Successful Vegetable Garden

12 Tips for a Wildly Successful Vegetable Garden

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You’ve done your research on growing a garden.  And now you know there are many benefits of growing a garden of your own.  So, you are excited to start your own vegetable garden for your family!

Of course, you want to have a successful vegetable garden.  You are probably thinking of the fresh fruits and veggies for your family to enjoy this summer.  And maybe you want to save money too.  Whatever your reason, we’ve got you covered!  Here are some tips to help you have a successful vegetable garden.

Make a Plan for Your Successful Vegetable Garden

Your first step to having a successful vegetable garden is to make a plan.  Planning your garden sets you up for success from the start.  

You can’t prevent everything, but you can plan for problems ahead of time.  When you do your research and getting organized, you will be able to plan your successful vegetable garden.  You’ll also be more likely to have a plentiful harvest from your vegetable garden if you plan ahead. 

Do Your Research

Do your research.  This is one of the first things you should do to have a successful vegetable garden.  If you haven’t grown a garden before, this research will be super important.  Even an experienced gardener should do a little research each spring before they start planting.  

With the internet, there’s hardly an excuse to NOT do some research in order to have a successful vegetable garden.  There are tons of blogs out there that cover gardening, like this one!  A simple Google search will help you find the info you need.  Or, you can search for gardening tips on Pinterest.  Just this year I’ve looked up how far apart should I plant certain vegetables.  I’ve also looked up organic pest control methods for our garden.  

So, before you start your vegetable garden, you should do some research about it.  Look into the types of produce you want to grow.  Find out how they grow best.  Are they any new tips out there for each of them?  If so, then your research will help you to have your most successful vegetable garden.

Get Organized

After you’ve done your research, then your next step to growing a successful vegetable garden is to get organized.  Rarely is anyone successful by accident.  It takes a plan!  And getting organized is your first step in your garden plan.

Decide what fresh fruits and veggies you like to eat.  After you’ve decided, then plan to grow them in your garden.  You’ve done your research, so you already know which plants grow best from seeds, and which ones you want to buy as sprouted plants from a greenhouse.  Then you need to decide how much of each type of plant you want to grow.  

Draw Up a Plan

When planting your vegetable garden, you’ll want to plant in rows.  Each row should have the same type of plants in them.   Or you should at least plant the same type of plants together in sections. Use your research to decide how far apart to put your plants in the rows.  You want to have room between them, not only to let them grow but to also chop out the weeds when they come later.

When planting seeds, you may not have to put your plants as far apart as something like tomatoes.  Green beans grow well in rows with the plants right beside each other.  Corn needs a little bit of room, but not as much as tomatoes or cucumbers.  By doing your research, you’ll know exactly what to do in your awesome vegetable garden!

Start Small for a Successful Vegetable Garden

This section is for all those new to vegetable gardening.  It’s important to start small.  

I get it.  You’re excited about growing a garden.  You can’t wait to get started.  And you also can’t wait for all of those awesome fruits and vegetables to come out of your garden. 

But you don’t need to grow a bigger garden than you can handle.  Your first time, if you want to have a successful vegetable garden, you don’t need to go overboard. 

Try doing a short row of each type of plant.  Maybe a few tomato plants in one row, followed by some green beans in the next.  You could do a row of corn after that.  And then your last row could be full of cucumbers and squashes.  

A raised garden bed is usually small.  This might be a good way for you to start out.  You don’t have to bend over as much with a raised garden.  Plus, all of your plants are in one contained area.  This is a great way to begin your successful vegetable garden!

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Work the Ground Up

Another huge part of growing a successful vegetable garden is working the ground up before you plant.  Having the ground worked up beforehand will make it easier to plant your garden.  It will also help cut down on weeds growing in it.

If you’re new to gardening, you might no know what “working the ground up” means.  This means to chop up the ground as finely as you can.  The best way to do this is with a plow.  If you don’t have a plow, you could hire somebody who does to plow your land.  If you’re doing a small garden, you could use a shovel to overturn the dirt.  

Work it Up a Little More

The next step would be to use a rototiller to work the dirt up even more.  This took is great for getting your garden in the best shape for planting.  You want it to almost feel like sand when you run your hands through it.   

Places like Lowe’s and Home Depot both have rototillers to purchase. They vary in price depending on the size and quality you want.  Plus, Home Depot has an equipment rental program.  So, if you don’t want to purchase this equipment for a small garden, you can easily rent it for a day or longer!  (BTW- I’m not an affiliate for any of these companies.  I simply found some good links and decided to share them with you.)

If you don’t want to rent or buy the equipment, then you can use a hoe to chop up the dirt for your garden.  This will take a lot of time AND burn a lot of calories.  If you’re all about saving time, then a rototiller is the best way to work your ground up before planting.

Buy Quality Plants

The last bit of advice I have for planning your successful vegetable garden is to buy quality plants and seeds. You might not think that the quality plants you purchase make much of a difference.  After all, you’re going to be taking care of them for a few months.   So it shouldn’t matter, right?  

I hate to tell you this, but the quality of your plants and seeds do matter!  I’ve used high-quality plants and super cheap plants.  And let me tell you, I’ve seen a world of difference between the two types.  

Over the last 15 years of growing a garden, my more successful vegetable gardens were those where we bought high-quality plants and seeds.  I’ve bought plants from Walmart, Lowe’s, and local greenhouses.  I’ve bought the cheapest Walmart has, all the way up to the most expensive plants at a family-owned greenhouse.  And every time, there is a huge difference in growing quality between cheap and high-quality plants and seeds.

Trust Me, Good Plants Make a Difference!

A few years ago, the greenhouse I normally visited stopped selling vegetable plants.  So, I ran into Walmart and bought some plants and seeds there.  And that was probably the worst garden I’ve had in the last 15 years. Even with a ton of TLC, that garden just didn’t do as well as before.

The next year, I visited Lowe’s for my vegetable garden plants and seeds.  This garden did a little better, but it still wasn’t what I wanted.

Eventually, we found another awesome local greenhouse, and I’ve been extremely pleased with the quality of their plants and seeds for the last 5-6 years.  It may cost me a little more money in the beginning, but high-quality plants are worth the investment.

Tend Your Garden to Make it Successful

You can do your research, buy the best plants, and all that organizational stuff.  But, those things won’t work miracles in your garden.   If you’re going to grow a garden, you have to tend it (or take care of it) all the time it’s growing.  Tending it will help to make sure you have a successful vegetable garden.

Even though you can’t control the weather, like too much or too little rain (both are not good), you can help your plants along the way.  So spend some time taking care of your garden.  There are many ways to tend your garden and help it be successful.

Visit Your Garden Often

 One of the easiest, and most important, ways to tend your garden is to visit it often.  This will help you keep an eye on all of your plants.  In order to have a successful vegetable garden,  you must spend time in it.

If your garden is close, let’s say in your backyard, then I would suggest spending time in it every day.  A simple walkthrough is all it takes.  You can check to see how things are growing.  If some plants aren’t looking so good, then you will be able to do something about it.  Do they need water or something else?  You can decide what they need, and then decide how to fix it.

Our garden is in a field on our farm, so it’s not right by our house.  It isn’t too far away, so we usually visit it 4-5 times a week.  These regular visits help us to keep our garden healthy all season long!

At the very least, I would suggest visiting your garden 4 times a week.  That’s about every other day.  This gives you time to let the garden grow.  But it’s often enough to keep surprise problems out of your successful vegetable garden.

Keep the Weeds Out

Another great tip for tending your successful vegetable garden is keeping the weeds out.  Weeds are competing with YOUR plants for water, sunlight, and nutrients from the soil.  So, the fewer weeds in your garden, the better off it will be!

I would also suggest getting rid of weeds as early as possible.  A week after planting our garden, my husband went through it with a rototiller.  He plowed up the ground between the rows.  And since he did this early, he plowed between the plants too.  In a few weeks, he will rototiller the garden again.  We’re just waiting for the beans to come up!

Chopping Weeds is Boring But Beneficial

Another way to keep the weeds out is by chopping them down with a garden hoe.  We don’t use pesticides or weed killers in our vegetable garden.  Imagine eating those awful chemicals (yuck)!  So chopping the weeds out of there is the best way to get close to your plants!  

I’ll take a day or two and head out early to chop the weeds from the garden.  Summers are HOT in Kentucky, so getting an early start is much better than chopping weeds in the heat of the day!

Stake Tomatoes and Other Plants That Need It

When tending a successful vegetable garden, you’ll want to stake the plants that will struggle to stay upright.  These plants will need a little help growing their best.  Staking them is a great way to do this!

One plant we stake every year is tomatoes.  Tomatoes grow up and out quickly.  And when the tomato fruits start growing, they are heavy!  This weighs the plants down, and they won’t grow as well.  Not only will it affect the plant growth, but tomatoes on the ground will get a lot less sun than those growing higher.  Plus, if you have a super wet year, and you don’t stake the tomatoes, they will rot on the wet ground.  And nobody likes rotten tomatoes!!!

We usually grow bush beans, but some green beans are vining plants.  You’ll want to stake them as well.  There are many ways you can stake your plants.  Tomato cages are a great way to stake a few tomatoes.  You put the plant inside the circular cage, and it will grow on up the sides of it.  We usually grow between 40-50 tomatoes.  So using these cages can get expensive!  

Use What You Have

Since we live on an old tobacco farm, there are plenty of unused tobacco sticks lying around.  We also have extra baling twine from feeding our cows hay.   These work together perfectly to stake tomato plants.  Simply push a broken stick into the ground, grab the tomato branches, and tie them to the stick.  

I know most people don’t have old tobacco sticks or baling twine lying around.  But you probably have something similar you could use to stake your plants.  If not, you can find something similar and affordable to help you stake them.  And if you only have a few plants to stake, I would suggest investing in a few tomato cages.  

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Discourage Pests Naturally

If you’re trying to grow a successful vegetable garden, you’ll have to deal with unwanted pests.  There are unwanted bugs and hungry animals out there.  And they all want to eat your garden!

Pesticides are great at deterring bugs and small animals.  But, they are also bad for you to ingest!   If it will make the critters sick or dead, just think of what it can do to you and your family.

So, I’ve looked into several ways to get rid of pests naturally.  One method I’ve used successfully to get rid of bugs in my vegetable garden is sprinkling a cayenne pepper/flour mixture over your plants.  My mother in law taught me this method a few years ago, and it has made a HUGE difference in the success of our garden!  You simply mix a 4:1 ratio of flour to cayenne pepper and sprinkle it lightly over your plants.  I’ve used this on everything from broccoli to beans, and it’s worked amazingly well.

Essential oils are another natural solution to keeping pests out of your garden.  There are several oils that will deter bugs and animals from your garden.  The Paleo Mama has a great article on using essential oils to keep the bugs away from your garden.  And as a bonus, they will also keep these pests out of your house too!

Keeping animals from munching your garden can be a bigger job.  Putting a fence around your garden can help keep animals away.  You can also use bright balloons that move with the wind to scare them out of your garden.  Planet Natural has some great tips for keeping unwanted critters from munching on your yummy food.  Try some out and see what works for you!

Enjoy Your Successful Vegetable Garden

You’ve made a plan for your garden and carried it out.  You’ve tended it well, and now you’re ready to enjoy all the delicious treats from your successful vegetable garden!

This is the time when all of your hard work pays off.  Your produce is ready, so you can visit your garden and pick what you want to eat!  My oldest daughter would love to pick tomatoes and eat them straight from the garden.  I’m not going to lie, we had some delicious cherry tomatoes last year.  And I would do the same thing!

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your successful vegetable garden.

Learn When to Pick Your Garden

An important thing to learn about gardening is when you should pick the fruits and vegetables from it.  Your successful vegetable garden will have some great produce for you.  But if you pick it at the wrong time, your food will either be too ripe or not ripe enough.

Doing your research is a great way to know the best time to pick each plant you’ve grown.  You can look up articles or video tutorials to help you decide when certain items are ready.  It’s also good to note that different types of the same plant can mature at different times.

With our garden, the green beans are usually first to be ready.  We look at how long and full the beans are on the plants to decide when to pick them.  Most years we get an early and a late picking off the same plants.  I’ve tried to pick a third time, but the pods are usually getting tough by the third time.

Tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers usually come on a little later.  And you’ll probably get a few pickings from these plants as well.  One thing we’ve learned from the experience of losing tomatoes is to pick them a little early.  When our tomatoes start turning we go ahead and pick them.  Then we set them on an outside table and let the sun ripen them on up.  There have been times when we left the tomatoes too long.  They either rotted on us, or some visiting animals have taken a bite.  

Corn and squashes usually ripen later than the other plants in your garden.  But,by learning when to pick your garden, you’ll get the most out of your produce!

Find Some New Recipes

Another way to enjoy your successful vegetable garden is by cooking them!  Each year, we do a little research on new ways to enjoy the plants we grow in our garden.  The ones that sound delicious, we try them out!

Over the years, we’ve found some great ways to cook our green beans.  From adding bacon grease (it’s a southern thing but oh so good) to onion powder to add a little kick of spice, we’ve tried several different versions of green beans.  I once ate fried green beans, which were really good.  So, I might have to try my hand at making those in the air fryer this year.

Tomatoes are great on burgers and in salads.  But there are tons of other ways to enjoy them.  As said in my last post, we make a LOT of salsa every year.  I have also made spaghetti sauce that was really good too!  I’ve seen some dried tomato recipes that I am excited to try this year.  Any new way you can find to enjoy the food you’ve grown is great!  It’s just another way to get more use out of your vegetable garden.

Share Your Successful Vegetable Garden With Family and Friends

One of my favorite ways my family enjoys our successful vegetable garden is by sharing it!  If you’ve followed these gardening tips, then you will hopefully have a wonderful amount of produce from your garden.  Sharing your fresh produce is an awesome way to pass on the blessings from your garden.

I love bringing some fresh produce to my friends and family!  They are so excited to have it, which makes me even more excited to give it.  Knowing that you have enough to bless others is such a great gift.

In my last post, I talked about selling salsa.  We have made some profit on our salsa, but we’ve also given a lot of it away over the years.  It’s a wonderful feeling when somebody tells you they love something you made for them!  

God has blessed my family with a great garden for most of these past 15 years.  There have been some years that were better than others.  But He always provides for us.  Everything we have and are able to do comes from God.  So shouldn’t we be willing to share those blessings with those around us?

1 Chronicles 29:11

Learn to Preserve for Later

This post has shared with you 12 tips for a successful vegetable garden.  I hope that this post has given you some advice and inspiration for starting your own vegetable garden.

One of the greatest benefits of gardening is the opportunity to preserve it for later.  Over my years of gardening, I’ve learned how to can, freeze, and pickle the products of my garden.  This way our family can enjoy the garden all year long!

Have you learned about gardening from this post?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments!  And if you have any gardening tips that you’d swear by, it would be awesome to hear those too.  The next 3 blog posts will be all about canning and freezing the produce from your garden.  Be sure to subscribe so you can get the latest updates in your inbox.




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