Starting a Home Vegetable Garden

Originally published on April 13, 2020

With Spring in full swing, and the need to stay at home to keep everyone safe, we have been receiving numerous questions about starting a home vegetable garden. Growing your own vegetables is a great activity for the entire family. It gets everyone outside staying active, and it comes with added edible bonuses throughout the growing season.

As with any new adventure, you need to plant for your garden. Below are some steps and planning tips you need to consider before you start your garden.

Step 1: Think about the types of vegetables you would like to grow both in the fall and spring.

Step 2: Once you have decided on which vegetables you want to grow, take a look at our Vegetable Planting Guide to determine the spacing between your plants. These spacing recommendations will help you determine the overall size of your garden.

Step 3: Now that you know the approximate size of your garden, you need to begin to think about the materials you will use to create your garden. Vegetable gardens are being made from some unique things these days. The materials you choose will depend on a couple of things, the size of the garden, size of your lawn, or even the size of your budget. Gardening, like most things, can be as expensive or inexpensive as you make it.

Here are a few ideas of possible garden materials to spark your imagination. The traditional garden is one that is installed in the ground by tilling or cultivating the soil to create rows to grow your vegetables. This is a very successful option but does require the use of some machines that most homeowners may not have access to use.

Raised garden beds are extremely popular these days. These can be made of treated or recycled wood, and it can be made into any shape you would like to fit your needs. I typically recommend that most raised garden beds be at a minimum of 10” tall. This gives you enough room to grow most vegetables. I also recommend either killing or removing all grass in the area of your raised garden beds. This will reduce the amount of grass growing up through your raised bed during the growing seasons. I’ve also seen people use a variety of recycled materials to make their raised beds. Just as a caution, watch out for any materials that may have been treated with pesticides in the past as we do not want this to be a reason our vegetables do not grow.

One recycled material source that we have used in our school gardens are molasses tubs that are used by most cattle producers. These tubs are great, but just be sure to clean them well and drill drainage holes in the bottom prior to putting in your soil. These also allow you to move them around based on your needs.

Catholic Elementary School Garden

Photo 1. Catholic Elementary of Pointe Coupee School Garden with both raised beds made of 2”x10” treated boards and recycled molasses tubs.