I’m going to show you how to plant a vegetable garden of your own and share my tips & tricks for beginner gardeners.
So I just finished planting everything in my vegetable garden today. It’s so nice to look out my bedroom window and watch it grow all summer long. Once you know the basics of gardening you will be able to grow a garden every year and have delicious fresh vegetables of your own.
What you need to know about vegetable gardening
Grow With Me Gardening Series
This is part of the Grow With Me Gardening Series here at Cottage On Bunker Hill. I want to teach you ways of starting, maintaining, and enjoying gardening. I will share all the tips & tricks that I have learned over the years growing both vegetable and flower gardens here in the Northeast.
What zone do you live in?
Before you dig into my gardening information you need to figure out one super important thing..what hardiness zone you live in. What growing zone you live in determines what and when you can plant that will thrive where you live. It’s not difficult to figure out so don’t worry!! Here is the link to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
I live in New Hampshire on the Zone 5b/6a line so my garden choices reflect that growing season.
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How to plan your garden
Before I started planting my vegetable garden this season I diagrammed a quick plan on where to plant my veggies. You can do this on a piece of graph paper too. Just make a drawing of your garden space to scale and then figure out what you want to plant
Planning my garden is one thing that helps me get through February in New Hampshire…it’s the worst month of the year around here!! I start buying seeds and any supplies I think I will need for the planting season.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac has free garden layout ideas to help you get started planning out your garden.
If you are starting from scratch then make a list of garden tools and products like plant supports or raised beds that you want to use and try and get them before the garden season if you can. The past couple of years has seen an immense increase in home gardening and some products have sold out quickly.
I’ll get a rough idea but I’m someone that just needs to get out there and move my plant supports around and stare at the garden to figure out how I want to do that year’s garden space.
Plant Supports I Use
It’s important to rotate your crops from year to year to fend off diseases that can overwinter in the soil. One extremely important gardening tip I can share with you is to rotate your garden crops from year to year. There are certain plant diseases and pests that will overwinter in your soil and cause trouble the following year. This is especially true for tomatoes.
This year I am only planting veggies my family likes to eat; last year I planted things that also looked attractive but my garden was overcrowded. (I solved my garden space problems by expanding my garden even more!!)
A vegetable garden needs at least 6 hours of sunlight (but 8 is better) every day to thrive.
Finding the best spot is going to be different for everyone. You need to factor in things like if your house will cast a shadow during the day on your garden and also take a look around to see if you have big trees that are going to block the sun during the day.
Another really important thing to think about is are you close enough to your outdoor water source. My garden is about 75 feet away so I need a couple of long hoses to reach everywhere in my garden.
Once you clear out the grass from your new garden area…ugh this is a job!!! The next step is to clear out any big rocks you see. I would highly suggest you borrow a rototiller and go over a new garden area a couple of times. This will really loosen up the dirt and turn up any other rocks you need to get out of there.
Your garden soil will make all the difference in your garden. You want nice loamy soil that is full of nutrients.
Since most of us aren’t lucky enough to live in places with amazing soil we have to add what we need to the soil..or what gardeners call “amending” the soil.
At the beginning of the season, I rototill my garden to loosen the earth. After it is tilled I add a few inches of fresh compost and work it into the garden, I like to use a pitchfork and garden rake to do this.
Garden centers sell bagged compost mixes you can add to your garden beds.
Planting a vegetable garden
The first thing that I plant is my early vegetables- snow peas, sugar snaps, broccoli, & cauliflower. I have a guide on growing early Spring vegetables for more information.
Early Spring vegetables can be planted here as soon as the ground is thawed and workable. These plants thrive in the cooler months and die off when the Summer heat comes.
We had an extremely cold Spring here in New Hampshire and I swear my vegetables have barely grown!!
My snow peas are only a few inches tall at this point and I only had a couple of sugar snaps even breakthrough…a disappointing start to my garden season this year.
When you are just beginning to garden it’s normal to want to “plant it all” but for your first year stick to just a few things to get the hang of it all so you don’t get overwhelmed. I suggest tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, and green beans.
We don’t plant our warm-weather vegetables until the end of May here to be safe from the possible whacky frost…New England has strange weather!!
My garden was rototilled earlier this Spring and I have already added compost into the soil so I am ready to plant!
I work some organic vegetable fertilizer into each hole before I pop the plants in. The hole is deeper and twice as wide as the plant I am going to put here.
I’ve had these vegetable ladders for over a decade to support my tomato and pepper plants and they were worth every cent! They’ve held up so well. You can check them out on Gardener’s Supply Co., they are a great New England company and always have the best products for your garden.
I’ve had problems with cutworms destroying my young tomato plants in the past. It only had to happen once that now I always take the time to protect my plants when they first go in.
Gardeners sometimes use a cut-up toilet paper or paper towel roll to place around the base of the tomato plant. I just cut the bottom off the plastic pots and when the plant gets bigger and stronger I can clip it off.
My cucumber seeds get sown directly into my garden. I’m growing 3 different varieties this year on 3 cucumber trellises ( the trellises are also from Gardener’s Supply Co.). I overseed then thin out the plants once they start growing.
Growing vegetables vertically takes up less space but also keeps them off the ground. You will never go back to letting your cukes crawl across your garden after you try a trellis! It’s so easy to find the ripe ones because they are hanging down.
I put in 5 pepper plants this season; 3 different bell peppers and 2 jalapeno
Honestly, I’ve never had great luck with bell pepper plants here in New Hampshire. I usually only get a couple on each plant. Last year I had one big pepper that was almost as large as the plant, but I keep trying!
Jalapenos do really well here and I always get a good crop. I cut up and freeze most of my bounty to use in chili over the winter.
I have everything planted! I’m growing sweet peas and green beans on the garden obelisk that I built..
Last summer I had the worst weed problem in my garden; it was so discouraging! This year I decided to put down Scotts’ ultimate landscape fabric that I grabbed at Walmart last weekend when I was buying out their garden center (LOL, but you should have seen my husband’s face when I rolled my carriage full of flowers out!!) I bought this one because it said it lets all the water and nutrients get down to the plants but will keep the weeds out.
I’ll let you know how it works out after this season.
We covered the fabric with fresh grass clippings. I need to mention that my husband helped me lay down the fabric and put down the clippings…because he said “don’t forget to tell everyone on your blog that I helped”
Fingers crossed that this keeps the weeds at bay this year!!
for your garden
Now, I just need some warm weather and sunshine to take over and get this garden growing! I will update its progress through the summer.