How to Grow a Vegetable Garden

Better Homes and Gardens offers Top 5 tips for first-time gardeners.

In the Garden

How to Grow a Vegetable Garden

Obamas and others embracing their green thumbs

Better Homes and Gardens

planting carrotsThe Presidential family has broken ground on the first White House vegetable garden since World War II, and American families nationwide are expected to follow suit this spring.

According to a new Better Homes and Garden study “The Food Factor: How America Cooks, Eats and Shops,” about half (49%) of all households are planning to grow their own fruit/vegetable garden this year. Additionally, 78% of households are eating more fresh fruits and/or vegetables to be healthy and 71% of households will likely use fresh herbs if a recipe calls for them.

“This is the year to grow your own,” says Gayle Butler, Editor-in-Chief of Better Homes and Gardens. “In the face of these tough economic times, consumers are recognizing that growing their own fruit and vegetables – whether in their backyard or as part of a community – is an affordable and accessible way to eat fresher and healthier every day.”

Better Homes and Gardens offers Top 5 tips for first-time gardeners:

various shades peppers

Decide what to grow. Grow what you love to eat. Also, keep in mind how much your family will eat throughout the season. Varieties such as tomatoes, peppers, and squash keep providing all summer and fall, whereas you may need to plant more of other vegetables, such as carrots, radishes, and corn, that produce only once. It’s best to start small with your first garden.

Determine how much space you need. Keep in mind that you don’t need a large space to begin a vegetable garden. If you choose to grow in containers, you don’t even need a yard — a deck or balcony may provide plenty of space. In fact, a well-tended 10-x-10-foot garden will usually produce more than a weed-filled or disease-ridden 25-x-50-foot bed.

Pick the perfect spot. Many gardeners like to have their vegetable gardens close to the house. This makes it easier to harvest fresh produce while you’re cooking. It can also be handy to keep a few favorite potted vegetables next to your grill.


Remember the three basic requirements for success. 1) Full sun: Most vegetables need at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun. If they don’t get enough light, they won’t bear as much and they’ll be more susceptible to attack from insects or diseases; 2) Plenty of water: Because most vegetables aren’t very drought tolerant, you’ll need to give them a drink during dry spells. The closer your garden is to a source of water, the easier it will be for you; and 3) Good soil: As with any kind of garden, success usually starts with the soil. Most vegetables do best in moist, well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter (such as compost or peat moss).

Start now with the best varieties for your region. For colder northern regions, go with lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, radish and peas. In warmer regions, now is the time to plant tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucumbers.

For more gardening questions ask the Garden Doctor.

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