By Sarah Davis

Have you ever wanted to have your very own vegetable garden right in your backyard? The thought of having fresh, organic, homegrown vegetables readily available is probably a wish for many homeowners. There are so many advantages to growing your own produce. You can save tons of money, not to mention time saved from grocery store trips! You will be the envy of all your friends and neighbors.

So you want your own vegetable garden, but where do you start? If you’re like me, you love the idea, however actually implementing it is a whole other thing. It can’t be that hard, right? New Homes & Ideas has done some of the research for you and has outlined a plan for you below.

beginners guide to planting a vegetable gardenFirst and most importantly, it is necessary to decide where your garden will be located in your yard. You will need to pay close attention to what areas of your yard receive full sun, partial sun or shade and what time of the day and year these areas receive the most sun. For most gardens to thrive, they require full sun for at least a majority of the day. Don’t forget about water! Will your hose reach the area you have selected when it comes time to water the plants?

Soil. You probably haven’t given the soil in your yard much thought, have you? Well, it can be crucial to the success of your garden, especially here in North Carolina, where we have red clay in many areas. You can purchase soil testing kits at most local home improvement stores or nurseries. The testing can tell you if you need to add particular fertilizers or organic material such as compost to balance the pH and makeup of your soil.

Next, you need to determine what types of vegetables you would like to grow. There is an abundance of information online regarding what vegetables grow in which seasons and also for the climate in your area. Another item to consider is the tolerance of the plants to wildlife. Some plants are vulnerable to being nibbled on by deer, rabbits and other critters.

Once you have your wish list of what you will plant, you can purchase seeds or seedlings.vegetable garden You will probably want to create a raised bed for your garden if you are new at this. This can be built fairly simply with some lumber from your local hardware store and a large amount of soil and fertilizer. With a raised bed, you may be able to avoid having to till the soil. If you do need to till and don’t have your own tiller, they can be rented.

The layout of the vegetables in your garden is also important since some may grow much taller and fuller than others and you want to leave enough space in between for the expansion of the plants as they grow. You don’t want the little ones to be crowded out by the big ones! Each seed packet should tell you how deep to plant the seeds and how far apart. Keep in mind that climbing plants such as cucumbers and tomatoes need a fence, cage, or trellis to grow up.

Timing is another important factor in planting your garden. You will need to research when the last frost in your area typically occurs. For most of the Triangle area of N.C., that would be mid April. The proper time to plant varies depending on the types of vegetables you are planting and whether you are planting seeds or seedlings.

Now the hard part is done. As long as you remember to water your garden appropriately given the amount of rain your area receives, weed out unwanted material and keep the critters away, you should have a lush garden growing in no time! Enjoy!