How to Set up Your Vegetable Garden

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Set up your vegetable garden that is perfect for your backyard. I give you actionable steps to help you create your dream garden.

backyard in ground garden with raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, broccoli, onioin and garlic plants. it has woodchip isles

You want to set up your vegetable garden this year, but unsure on how to do that. I get it! starting a garden can seem a bit overwhelming, but I will take you through the whole process so you don’t have to over think it. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. Don’t get analysis paralysis, and just start! Growing your own food is so rewarding and you won’t regret it!

  • 1. Step one: Decide if you are gardening in pots, raised beds or in ground.
  • 2. Step two: Find the sunniest spot in your yard or patio for your garden.
  • 3. Step three: Decide how big your want your garden (What do you want to plant? What are your garden goals?)
  • 4. Step four: Plan for a trellis or large space for vining plants.
  • 5. Step five: Draw a map of your garden. Look at seed packets for space requirements and plan the spacing in your garden.
  • 6. Step six: Prepare the space for your garden.
  • 7. Step seven: Gather the supplies needed to set up your garden, including the trellis
  • 8. Step eight: Add compost to your garden beds or pots
  • 9. Step nine: Plant your garden (look at seed packet for when to plant)

Set up your vegetable garden- Step one:

Deciding if you are going to garden in pots, in ground, or in raised beds is the first step. What you decide here will greatly affect what you do in the next steps. How much space you have may help you decide if you are going to garden in pots, in ground, or in raised beds.

Are you limited to gardening on your back deck or balcony? Aren’t sure you want to fully commit to ripping up your back yard? Then gardening in pots is a great option for you.

grow an apartment container garden on your balcony

As for raised beds, some people choose these because they like how they look. There are tons of different ways to create beautiful raised beds. Raised beds are the most expensive option and you will need to replace boards of the raised beds occasionally.

Some people choose these because they have bad soil and want to garden in perfect soil from the get go. Again, this is the more expensive route, but it works great.

In ground gardens can work even if your soil isn’t the greatest quality. This is the most affordable option as long as you have the space in your backyard. These do well especially if you live in a dry climate. They require less watering than pots or raised garden beds. If you live somewhere with lots of moisture make sure you don’t place your garden in an area that floods.

Step 2: Observe the sunny areas of your yard or deck.

Your vegetable garden will need six to eight hours of sunlight a day for it to thrive. You may be able to get by with four hours if you plant vegetables that can handle the shade. Take note of when the sun hits the area you are thinking for your garden.Then take note of when the sun leaves and total the hours.

Step 3: How big do you make your garden?

What are your garden goals? Think about what you want to grow. This will hep you decide how to set up your vegetable garden. Be mindful of crop rotation, and where you will plant your annual crops in a different place each year.

For example, if you simply want an herb garden with a few of your favorite herbs then a smaller garden closer to your house would suffice. Maybe 5’x5′ or a long row along the side of your house. Lots of herbs come back each year and can be planted as ornamental as well as herb use.

If you want to grow a garden for salsa or to grow enough tomatoes to make pasta sauce, your garden will need to be a bit larger. If you aren’t sure, start smaller than you think. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with a massive garden that you can’t maintain. You can always go bigger later.

Step 4: Plan to make a trellis or space for vining plants

a garden in rows with cattle panel and t posts to create a trellis for the cucumbers.
Cattle panel with T posts. I used this to trellis my cucumbers and cherry tomatoes.

When you set up your vegetable garden you will want to plan for the vining plants. Plants like indeterminate tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, or squash will need lots of space in the garden.

Using a trellis will allow the plants to grow up instead of out so that you can utilize your vertical space instead of taking up all of your ground space.

Step 5: Set up your vegetable garden using a garden map

Make a list of vegetables that you want to grow in your garden. Find the best vegetables to plant for you and make sure to be selective of what plants can grow in your area and what vegetables you like to eat.

It is always great practice when you set up your vegetable garden to use a garden map. This can be as simple as grabbing lined paper and doing a rough sketch or creating a digital map then printing it out. When you create a map it allows you to plan out how many plants you can put in your garden.

You have time to think about what plant would go well with others. For example a tall vining cucumber on a trellis will allow for lots of short plants like radishes or carrots to be planted all around it. Fill your garden space.

Save your garden map so that you can use it to plan your garden next year. You think you will remember what you planted the year before, but it is amazing how quickly you can forget. This will help you when planning your crop rotation

Step 6: Prepare the space for your garden

two garden plots that are dug out by a mom and her kids in the

When preparing the space for your vegetable garden I strongly suggest removing the grass or weeds from the area that you will be planting in. Some people put cardboard or newspaper over the grass and dump dirt over it.

This may work a little bit and if you are under a time crunch then give it a try, but I have had far less weeds when I remove the grass or weeds completely.

Step 7: Gather the supplies needed to set up your vegetable garden

If you plan on building raised beds you will need to gather supplies for your garden. There are lots of tutorials for building cheap or expensive raised beds. You will also want to plan and pick up supplies for the trellis that you want to build.

This is a good time to buy compost soil or potting mix for your pots.

Step 8: Add compost to your garden beds or pots

You will want a layer of rich compost on our garden beds. I usually add a layer of compost each spring before planting.

When starting out you will mix it in your your native soil for in ground garden beds. In order to fill a raised garden bed on the cheap, you can fill with top soil, then the top six inches or so fill with rich compost.

Step 9: Plant your garden

Now that the set up and planning of your vegetable garden have all taken place, you are ready to plant your seeds or starts! Check your last frost date and plant your seeds accordingly. Some things like tomatoes will needed to be started from seed weeks before your last frost date.

Starting seeds can be your next adventure and if you haven’t done that you can pick up started plants from your local nursery or hardware store.

soil blocks filled with lettuce, pepper, tomato, kale, and zinnia plants.

Follow your planting plan. Remember to water daily when you have put seeds in the ground, you want the soil consistently moist when planting seeds. After that you can back off to watering every 3-4 days depending on how moist your soil is.

Like I said, getting started is the hardest part. I challenge you to take these steps and set up your vegetable garden today!

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