Guide: How to grow a fruit and vegetable garden

Posted by admin on Jul 5, 2019 under Gardening

If you are contemplating growing your own vegetable garden, you are not alone. As the price of imported fruits and vegetables are expected to rise by 8% after Brexit, according to The Guardian, homegrown produce is becoming even more appealing. 

Of course, many are also jumping on the garden-therapy trend and committing to boycott genetically modified produce. So how do you grow a fruit and vegetable garden? This guide will cover the ten-step process to help you grow a fruit and vegetable garden from scratch.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

1. Carefully choose your fruit and veg

2. Decide where to plant vegetables in your garden

3. Schedule when to plant fruit and veg

4. Purchase the necessary gardening supplies

5. Choose whether your veg will be contained

6. Pick seeds or plants

7. Choose, buy and prepare your soil

8. Plant your seeds or veggie starts

9. Maintain your vegetable garden

10. Collect the harvest from your garden

Don’t miss the useful growing vegetables calendar and beginners gardening tools checklist!

How to start a vegetable garden from scratch

1. Carefully choose your fruit and veg

Photo Credit: sirtravelalot / Shutterstock


Create a list of your favourite fruits and vegetables

When planning a vegetable garden, you should consider what you and your family like to eat. There is no point in growing veggies that you do not enjoy. Creating a list with all your favourite produce is a great place to start. If your recipes frequently use one or two vegetables, then add those to your list as well.

Fact: tomatoes are a great choice as they are a staple food item for many recipes, making them one of the best things to plant in a garden.

Match your motive with your produce choices

Do you want to grow veg to save money, as a hobby or for organic produce? Your reason will likely impact the choice of fruit and veg you choose to grow. For instance, some plants are very expensive to plant and maintain. 

So when planning a vegetable garden, you should research questions that relate to your motive. If you want to save money, you need to research what are the most cost-effective vegetables to grow. Assess what you need to buy from the offset and how much it will cost to care for your produce. For example, the soil, plant food and water.

Get realistic with your garden’s climate

While growing avocados may be a broke millennial’s dream, when planning a vegetable garden it is important to consider the practicalities. The best climate for growing avocados is a warm and tropical one. 

Do a little research to check the weather requirements for your favourite vegetables and fruits. After all, you could choose all of the best things to plant in a garden and end up with no harvest if the climate is not suitable.

Tips for gardening in your climate: 

  • If your favourite plant does not tolerate your natural climate, storing them inside may do the trick.
  • Pay a visit to your local garden centre or farm to hear about their first-hand experiences growing veggies. They can tell you what has worked in your climate!


Decide what size vegetable garden suites you

Choosing the right size vegetable garden will depend on a number of factors. For starters, how big is your outdoor space? Retaining a spacious garden is important to many people. Yet, with careful planning, you can have the best of both worlds.

The next thing to consider when growing your own vegetable garden is your level of expertise. While it is exciting to jump into gardening as a hobby, there is plenty to learn and many mistakes to be made. We suggest starting with a 100 square foot vegetable garden and slowly add more produce over time. 

If you are an experienced gardener, then choose your garden’s size based on the number of mouths you intend to feed. You can determine the garden’s size by adding an additional 100 square feet per person.

Calculate the time commitments involved

How much work are you willing to put into your garden? This is an important question to ask from the offset as gardening can be time-consuming. Obviously, the bigger the gardening the more time is required. However, it will also be based on the individual veggies you pick.

Consider these time commitments when planning a vegetable garden:

  • Watering by hand or through using a drip irrigation system
  • Inspecting produce for bugs and pests
  • Feeding the soil
  • Weeding
  • Harvesting the produce as and when it ripens

Time scale: how long are you willing to wait until harvest?

Vegetables, plants and fruit grow at various rates. Some produce, such as kale and lettuce, can be homegrown within 30 days – making them some of the fastest vegetables to grow. Whereas, Asparagus can take up to 4 years! So do a bit of research to ensure you pick produce that fits into your time scale.

Growing asparagus tip: plant 2 – 3-year-old root clumps there will be less of a wait for your crops. As asparagus is perennial, there is little care involved on your part.

Choose your veggies based on home growing expertise

If you are a beginner or novice gardener, it is best to start growing fruits and vegetables that are known to be straightforward to plant with a high success rate. We have compiled a list of the best garden vegetables to grow based on your level of gardening expertise.

Best things to plant in a garden for beginners vs advanced gardeners:
Easy things to grow in a garden Difficult veg and fruit to grow
CucumbersArtichoke
PotatoesSweet potatoes
SpinachOnion 
CourgetteMuskmelon
Bell peppersCarrots
Lettuce leafIceberg lettuce
KaleAubergine
Runner beansSweet corn
GarlicCelery
RadishesCauliflower
Peas
Tomatoes

2.Decide where to plant vegetables in your garden

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Consider sunlight

Certain plants, vegetables and fruits will need more sunlight to grow. With that in mind, you should strategically grow these edibles in the part of your garden that attracts the most sunlight. However, other produce may wither with too much sun. Read the seed packages and refer to their care specifications before choosing a location in your garden.

Garden’s current design

When planning a vegetable garden you should consider whether you are happy to sacrifice the sun hot-spots for your produce. If so, it may mean moving your garden furniture elsewhere. We do recommend keeping a garden bench near your vegetable patch, as it creates the perfect tea break.

Pollination

Some vegetables need pollinators (bees, butterflies etc.) to spread their pollen from the male to the female part of the vegetable in order to grow. For instance, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and peppers. These vegetables are best placed near flowers or teak furniture to attract bees.

Accessibility

What produce will you be collecting from the garden on a daily basis? We have found that herbs and salad are most conveniently kept close to the house for easy access. 

Vertical plants and vegetables

Vertical produce is great space savers. However, they can create shade which prevents your other vegetables from growing. Placing these plants up against the house is a good way to avoid creating new shadows.

Flooding

Avoid areas of your garden that are prone to flooding. For instance, check whether your land is on an incline.

3. Schedule when to plant fruit and veg

Photo Credit: lovelyday12 / Shutterstock

There is a strategy at play for gardening. For instance, strategically planting your produce in select seasons can have a massive impact on the outcome. For that reason, you should identify whether your vegetables are warm-season or cool-season.

Warm season vegetables & fruitsCool season vegetables & fruits
PeppersKale
BeansBrussel sprouts
CucumbersSpinach 
Snap beansRadish
CornStrawberries
CantaloupesBeets
TomatoesCarrots
Peas 
Broccoli
Onions

Use this growing vegetable calendar as a guide:

4. Purchase the necessary gardening supplies

The essential gardening tools will depend on the size and type of garden you create. However, we have gathered a collection of things gardeners claim to make their lives easier and a more successful harvest.

What to buy when building a vegetable garden from scratch?

Garden toolsSeeds, soil and fertilisersGarden accessories
SpadeGood quality seedsWatering system
Garden forkSoilGreenhouse
HoseManureGardening gloves
Watering canCompostGarden kneeler/ seat
HoeInsecticidesSoil thermometer
Scuffle hoePlant foodRaised bed (optional)
Weeder
Rake or golden gark
Wheelbarrow
Pruning shears
Loopers
Dibber
Hand Trowel

Do you need a greenhouse to grow vegetables?

You do not need a greenhouse to start growing veggies and fruits. Often, it is advised that you start outdoors in a small garden. You can always invest in a greenhouse down the line. Yet, plenty of gardeners who say their greenhouse was the best money they spent in the first year. Should you decide to get one, keep an eye out for local sales.

5. Choose whether your veg will be contained

Photo Credit: WindAwake / Shutterstock

You can choose to plant your vegetables directly into the ground (direct sow vegetables), within pots or raised beds. There are advantages and disadvantages for each option. If you live in the city with little space to spare, you may wish to use pots or a long trough on your balcony.

Pros and cons of growing vegetables in raised beds

Pros: raised beds
  • Fewer weeds
  • Detracts grasshoppers and pests
  • Easier crop rotation
  • A tidy and organised presentation
  • Great for wheelchair users and the elderly
Cons: raised beds
  • Wood can rot
  • More expensive
  • Roots will dry out faster – particularly in a hotter climate
  • Raised beds need to be replaced systematically

Pest prevention tip: if you choose raised beds, adding wiring to the base will help deter unwanted critters

6. Pick seeds or plants

You will also need to decide whether to start your vegetable garden using seeds or through veggie starts. As previously mentioned, some seeds can take a long time to grow. In these cases, you may be better off going to the garden centre and purchasing veggie starts.

7. Choose, buy and prepare your soil

At this point you are in good shape to choose, buy and prepare your soil. As every gardener will tell you, the type of soil you buy matters. Pair your vegetables and fruits with the appropriate soil using our guide. It may also be valuable to check the packages and ask the retailers for their advice on specific produce.

The best type of produce to grow for different types of soil

  1. Loam is known for even-handedly balancing clay, sand and slit to create a fertile soil that is appropriate for most produce. This type of soil also comprises of humus. Loam is well suited to most produce but particularly fantastic for corn, cauliflower, apples and beans.
  1. Slits is soil with fine particles forming a dense and slippery substance that is often found within river banks. This type of soil suppresses drainage and air circulation. Celery, watercress and taro are great for waterlogged soils, such as slits.
  1. Clay (heavy) is another type of soil that retains vast quantities of water due to it’s small and dense particles. The clay soil drains slowly, becoming hard and compact when dry, producing a reputation for being difficult to manage and may lead to back problems. Yet, clay soil withholds so many nutrients that can benefit your produce. Choose broccoli, cabbage, wheat and brussels sprouts for clay-based soil.
  1. Sand-based soils encompass large particles which allow the water to easily pass through the soil, taking with it the vital nutrients. Carrots, onions and potatoes tend to thrive in sandy soil.

How to improve your soil for better results?

Add organic matter to enhance the form and nutrients of your soil – no matter which type of soil you are using. Ensure the organic matter (dung, compost etc.) is fully fermented before incorporating it into your soil. This is an essential step for creating a rich and high-performing vegetable garden. You can purchase soil test kits to determine how your soil is performing.

8. Plant your seeds or veggie starts

The process of planting vegetable and fruit seeds varies from one to another. However, you can follow our guideline. First, identify whether your produce requires direct seeding or start seeding so you can follow the appropriate instructions. You should always prioritise instructions on the packaging for best results.

How to sow seedlings:

  1. Harden off all vegetable seedlings that were grown indoors (including those purchased from a local greenhouse). This is an introduction to ‘the real world’ so to speak. Slowly let your plants adjust to real sunlight over one week by daily increasing their sun exposure. Don’t overdo this step!
  2. Prepare your soil, sculpted beds and garden.
  3. Use biodegradable peat pots (optional) with slim tears down the edges for the roots to poke through. Tear off any of the pot that is showing above the ground.

Transferring seedlings tip: plant on a cloudy but calm day to avoid the midday sun and ease your veggies into their new surroundings.

Steps for direct-seeding:

  1. Dry out your soil adequately before working it.
  2. Use a soil thermometer to ensure soil is warm enough for the seeds to germinate.
  3. Choose a planting method depending on your preferences, tools and climate. There are four primary options: row planting, wide row planting, bed planting and hill planting.

9. Maintain your vegetable garden

Photo Credit: Natalia Kirichenko / Shutterstock

Congratulations, the planting is done and dusted! Now, it’s time to focus your energy on maintaining your fruit and vegetable garden. Untended plant, vegetable and fruit gardens will not be as efficient. If you want to get your money’s worth and enjoy a delicious high-quality harvest, maintaining your garden is a must.

How to maintain a vegetable garden

  • Routinely water your produce in accordance with the packaging. If your vegetable or fruit seeds do not come with instructions, do the research yourself to find out each of the produce’s watering requirements.
  • Control those sneaky weeds to ensure they don’t steal any of your soil’s nutrients as well as your vegetable’s sunlight or water. Weeds spread and grow quickly, so be sure to tackle them promptly. 
  • Remove rotting produce and greenery to reduce the number of pests entering your precious fruit and vegetable garden.
  • Prune any unhealthy parts of a vegetable, fruit or plant to protect the remaining produce.
  • Harvest your produce promptly once they are ripe. Not only will harvesting keep your produce from wilting but it sends a signal to the mother plant that the fruit or veg has reached fruition. It will actually stop reproducing.
  • Care for your gardening tools should be habitual to prevent diseases within your garden. Yet, this is especially crucial when your gardening tools come into contact with infected vegetables or fruits.
  • Crop rotation should occur periodically, usually after several years depending on the plant. Moving your vegetables or fruits to a different location will help prevent disease.

Do not overwater your fruit and vegetable seedlings. Adequate moisture is vital to dodge drought stress. Yet, overwatering encourages disease and purges nutrients. For that reason, overwatering is a waste of your time and money.

10. Collect the harvest from your gardens

Don’t forget to collect your harvest as soon as it has ripened for the best taste! If there is too much to eat, package it up in the freezer or share the treats by hosting a social event. After all, there are few things more satisfying than setting up a feast of homegrown produce on your extending garden table, surrounded by friends and family. 

Share your success stories in the comments below with Faraway Furniture’s online community. After all, we can all learn from one another!

Feature image: Kazakova Maryia / Shutterstock

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