There is nothing more rewarding to a gardener than to have a beautiful vegetable garden bearing an abundance of delicious fresh produce all summer long. Most of us know that the reality of the situation is not so idyllic but by taking some time to plan ahead and follow some time honored steps most of us can have a very satisfactory vegetable garden with lots of good food for the whole family, and even some friends.
If there is one word to describe the first step to successful vegetable gardening it is “plan”. Start early; in the winter when you can’t go out and work in the garden begin the process. Start by deciding what vegetables you want to grow to meet the needs and wants of you and your family.
See: Eight Factors to Consider when Selecting Vegetables for the Home Garden
You may find that you can have what you want in containers.
See: Six Tips for Growing Vegetables in Containers
With your list of vegetables that you want to grow make a plan for the garden.
See: How to make a Plan for your Vegetable Garden
If you are using a site that has been used for growing vegetables before, consider crop rotation.
See: How to Rotate Crops in the Home Vegetable Garden
Once you have a plan you will need to find a suitable site. You may find that you have to edit the plan you made, adding or subtracting some of the vegetables you chose, but that is par for the course and will make for a better garden in the long run. Don’t try to crowd the plants as this will only create disease problems and a loss in productivity. It is better to grow fewer plants and grow them well.
See: How to Select a Site for a Vegetable Garden
Soil is one of the most important factors in establishing a successful vegetable garden so take some time and do it right. You may have to put considerable time and money into soil improvement the first time you do it, but good soil is well worth it. In future years, you will spend considerable less.
See: How to Prepare the Soil for a Vegetable Garden
Selecting and buying the plants is one of the most fun tasks. With the huge number of varieties in the nurseries it is difficult to decide what to buy. In general, your local nursery will carry the varieties which are successful and popular in your area. If you buy on-line, you will have more varieties to choose from but will have no idea which ones are best for your growing conditions.
You might be interested in heirloom vegetables.
See: What is an Heirloom Vegetable?
If you are planning to grow vegetables in the cool weather of spring or fall,
See: Top Picks for Cool Weather Vegetables
Here are some guidelines for selecting various popular vegetables:
How to Choose Snap Beans for the Vegetable Garden
How to Choose Corn for the Home Garden
How to Select Cucumbers for the Vegetable Garden
How to Select Eggplants for the Home Vegetable Garden
How to Select Onions for the Home Vegetable Garden
How to Select Sweet Bell Peppers for the Home Vegetable Garden
The Best Pumpkins for Pumpkin Pies
How to Select Seed for Spring Radishes
Six Superb Squash for your Vegetable Garden
Seven Points to Ponder When Selecting Tomato Plants
Five Favorite Heirloom Tomatoes
After you have purchased your plants (or seeds), you will want to plant them in the garden as soon as possible. Here are some posts that give you information on planting and growing individual vegetables.
How to Grow Beets (Beta vulgaris)
How to Plant, Grow and Harvest Bush and Pole Beans
Pollination of Cucumbers, Squash, and Melons
Ten Tips for Successful Tomatoes
Taking care of the vegetable garden throughout the growing season involves many tasks.
For suggestions on watering see:
How to Water the Vegetable Garden
For suggestions on fertilizing see:
Six Guidelines for Fertilizing Vegetables
For more information on the cultivars and varieties of vegetables check out these posts:
Beet ‘Ruby Queen’ (Beta vulgaris ‘Ruby Queen’)
Bush Bean ‘Derby’ (Phaseolus vulgaris ‘Derby’)
Cabbage ‘Savoy Express’ hybrid (Brassica oleracea var. capitata ‘Savoy Express’ hybrid)
Leaf Celery (Apium graveolens var. secalinum )
Cucumber ‘Fanfare’ (Cucumis sativus ‘Fanfare’)
Cucumber ‘Salad Bush Hybrid” (Cucumis sativus ‘Salad Bush’ Hybrid [F1])
Eggplant ‘Gretel’ (Solanum melongena ‘Gretel’)
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana, syn. Cochlearia armoraci)
Lettuce ‘Red Sails’ (Lactuca sativa ‘Red Sails’)
Okra ‘Cajun Delight’ Hybrid (Abelmoschus esculentus ‘Cajun Delight’ Hybrid)
Bell Pepper ‘California Wonder’ (Capsicum annum)
‘Bell Boy’ Hybrid Sweet Pepper (Capsicum annuum ‘Bell Boy’ hybrid)
Acorn Bush Squash ‘Table King’ (Cucurbita pepo ‘Table King’)
Radish (Raphanus sativus) ‘Cherry Belle’
Radish ‘French Breakfast’ (Raphanus sativus ‘French Breakfast’)
Tomato ‘Big Beef’ F1 (Solanum lycopersicum ‘Big Beef’)
Tomato ‘ Celebrity’ (Solanum lycopersicum ‘Celebrity’)
Tomato ‘Cherokee Purple’ (Solanum lycopersicum ‘Cherokee Purple’)
Cherry Tomato ‘Lizzano’ (Solanum lycopersicum ‘Lizzano’)
Watermelon ‘Sweet Beauty’ (Citrullus lanatus ‘Sweet Beauty’ Hybrid)
Zucchini ‘ Cocozelle (Cucurbita pepo ‘Cocozelle’)
As spring turns into summer, and summer into fall, you can experience the joy of harvesting your produce and turning it into food for the table. Many vegetables can be eaten simply with no additions but some may become so abundant that you will want to try some new ways to serve them. Here are some easy recipes for fresh produce, arranged by principal vegetable ingredient.
Green Peppers Stuffed with Meat and Rice
Pumpkin Pie with Rum and Brandy