The first thing you must do is decide what type of vegetables you would like to grow. Obviously you prefer the taste of some vegetables over others, therefore you should devote your hard work to things you will enjoy. Make a list of all the different types of vegetables you want, and see if the space you have devoted to your garden will accommodate everything. Next make a small sketch on a piece of paper to map out where you will plant everything in your garden. Make sure you leave enough room for proper spacing between plants and the rows of plants. Overcrowding plants is one of the most common mistakes a beginning gardener will make.
Now you should determine which plants can be sown directly in the garden and which plants are best started indoors and later transplanted outdoors. Gardeners in warm environments may start everything from seed. However if you live in a colder environment it is best to start certain plants from seeds indoors weeks before transplanting them outdoors as your growing season is much shorter. Each vegetable has its own guidelines as to how many weeks it should be started indoors before being transplanted outdoors. We will look at specific vegetables in future lessons.
Once you have determined your local frost free date, and it has passed you can begin planting your garden. Make sure to get an early start on cold weather plants such as lettuce and spinach. They tend to get quite bitter as the temperatures climb. Follow the layout that you designed when you planned your garden. Hopefully everything you wrote down on paper will transfer nicely to the actual garden. If it doesn’t and you run out of space it is best not to overcrowd, as mentioned above.
Certain plants such as tomatoes should have some organic fertilizer mixed into the ground when the plants are transplanted. This will help for a better transition from the nice protected weather indoors to the temperature swings and light changed of the outdoors. Of course you must use the proper amount of water for the transplants, as well as any seeds that you have sown. Overwatering plants is just as bad as under watering plants.
Hopefully this has given you a good overview of how to get a vegetable garden started. In future articles we will look at specific techniques on how you can how the best garden in the neighborhood.