A woman kneels in her backyard garden, tending to lush and healthy plants.

Growing Your Own Backyard Vegetable Garden: The Basics

Written by Morgan Shaw

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There’s nothing quite so tasty as fresh, homegrown vegetables. Not only are fresh greens and other veggies delicious, but they’re also great for your family’s health. But the grocery store isn’t the only place to find them; in fact, with a little planning, you can start your own backyard vegetable garden in no time.

Of course, starting a garden and succeeding are two different things. Whether you’ve got a green thumb or not, read on – we’ll explain how to start a backyard garden and what to consider before you get to growing!

Pick your planting spot wisely

The first thing to consider is the garden location. Depending on your backyard’s size, you might have several suitable spots for a plot of homegrown vegetables. Even people with small yards can find room to grow a few plants, too! In general, the best backyard garden spots have a few important attributes:

Take a walk around your backyard and think about good spots. Once you have one, it’s time to think about just how big you want your backyard garden to be.

A person wearing outdoor gloves drives a spade into the soil of their backyard garden to create room for a new plant.

Start small with your plot size

Our advice? Go with a small plot, especially in the beginning, or if you don’t have a lot of gardening experience. With a small garden plot, you’ll need to invest only a bit of cash, and it’s easier to restart if you make some early mistakes! Plus, it’s easier to maintain when it’s time for spring yard work. On top of that, people with small backyards will find it easier to fit a tiny garden onto their property.

For the best beginner results, plant a backyard garden in a 10’ x 10’ plot (if it’s directly on the ground/in the soil). If you’re planting in a raised garden bed, 4’ x 4’ or 4’ x 8’ plots are excellent alternatives. Raised bed gardens take a bit more effort to get set up, but they allow you to plant almost anywhere, provided your chosen location gets enough sunlight and protection from the wind.

Larger gardens are possible, but you might need to spend more to get everything you need: soil, garden beds, and more. A small personal loan can help you grab all the important supplies without having to wait – a crucial factor since you’ll need all your equipment and garden stuff ready at the same time.

What to grow?

Here comes the fun part: deciding what veggies you’ll grow! There are very few wrong answers here, although some vegetables are certainly easier to grow than others. In addition, you might want to plant specific veggies you know that you and your family love or that you’ll mix into your recipes.

Here are some vegetables that are fairly easy to grow in most temperate climates, especially in early spring through fall:

You can also create a diverse garden that includes flowers and herbs, like rosemary or thyme. Planting a diverse garden could be good for long-term soil health, and it might impart other benefits – for instance, your garden will look beautiful with some colorful flowers blooming here and there amidst the vegetables. And some flowers, like marigolds, can discourage pests while attracting pollinators at the same time.

Young, green tomatoes grow on a vine in a healthy-looking backyard vegetable garden.

Think about growing seasons

Your region will have different ideal growing seasons for different vegetables and other plants. You can easily find planting dates and growing seasons online, then download customized calendars that are accurate for your region and “frost dates” (dates where the temperature is likely to be below freezing).

Before planting, make sure that the vegetables you want to grow have enough time to fully mature and produce crops before the first frost. Otherwise, you could waste weeks or months on veggies that freeze or fail before they’re ready!

Guidelines from planting pros

The more you experiment with your backyard garden, the faster you’ll learn exactly what works and what doesn’t. But to get a head start and avoid some easy beginner’s mistakes, check out these guidelines:

Leafy greens grow in a backyard vegetable garden. A small bird rests on one of the plants in the foreground.

Need inspiration? Try these backyard garden ideas

Now you know how to start a backyard garden. But what if you still don’t know what shape your garden should take? We’ve got some inspirational ideas for you – just pick the one that seems best suited for your backyard or your preferences!

With these tips and backyard garden ideas, you’ve got everything you need to become a homesteading horticulturist! In no time at all, you’ll have delicious veggies and herbs for your culinary creations.

 

Sources:

https://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-calendar

https://cals.cornell.edu/school-integrative-plant-science/school-sections/horticulture-section/outreach-and-extension/pandemic-vegetable-gardening/pandemic-vegetable-gardening-2020-archive/sunlight-key-great-vegetables

https://www.soils4teachers.org/fertility/#:~:text=A%20fertile%20soil%20will%20contain,boron%2C%20molybdenum%2C%20nickel)

 

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