Growing Your Own Vegetable Garden

By Jan Brick
Grow Your Own Garden 

In “Garden to Table: A 5-Year Look at Food Gardening in America,” The National Gardening Association reports a significant shift toward more Americans growing their own food in home and community gardens, increasing 17% from 36 million households in 2008 to 42 million in 2013. These statistics represent the highest level of food gardening in more than a decade, with one in three households now growing food and 76% of those growing vegetables.

If you are you contemplating a spring vegetable garden, now is the time to organize, plan, and prepare your garden. The danger of frost has passed and the warm temperatures ideal for growing vegetables have arrived. Join the millions of families who have discovered the rewards, gratification, and pleasure of growing and consuming your very own harvest.

Some early preparations for the spring gardening season will bring benefits that will last all year. Before planting your garden, prepare your beds by digging and loosening the soil and adding organic material. This prep work can save you disappointment and assures a bountiful harvest.

Organic matter is the key to a healthy garden as it helps improve whatever soil to which it is added. Replenish the garden at the start of each growing season to maintain its viability.

Placeholder imageTo create an ideal combination of organic materials, include Nitrogen (N) using 2-parts blood meal -OR- 3 parts fish meal; Phosphorus (P) via 3-parts bone meal; and Potassium (K) by way of 1-part kelp meal -OR- 6 parts greensand. If using manure, it should be composted not fresh so as not to burn your plants and to prevent the spread of pathogens.

Even if there is not enough room in your yard for a conventional garden, the rewards of gardening can still be reaped. Plant vegetables among the flowers and ornamentals in your flowerbeds; many of them have attractive blooms and their foliage will complement the already existing vegetation in the beds.

A second option is the construction of a “square-foot” garden. In this garden, a raised bed is divided into squares. Each square is planted with your choice of vegetable, herb, flowers or ornamentals. Tall plants placed in the rear section of the garden and shorter plants in the front squares are recommended.

Because the garden is raised and divided into sections, maintenance and harvesting is nearly effortless for the gardener. With a square foot-garden, small children as well as older adults can enjoy the activity.

Container gardening is a third option for those with limited space. Many types of containers can be used in this approach, from tomato plants in 5-gallon buckets to nursery pots and old whiskey barrels - be creative.

Important hints for container gardening: Use commercial soils that are clean and free of diseases; add sufficient holes to the bottom of the container to allow good drainage; use water soluble fertilizers frequently to ensure healthy growth; and remember that container gardens require more frequent watering. 

“Vegetable gardening is an exciting and enjoyable hobby that provides the home gardener with a chance to get outdoors, to learn about and enjoy nature, and produce a harvest of delicious homegrown vegetables…we can actually see the results of our labors materialize into something of real value.”

And ideal planting schedules

Placeholder imageCarrot seeds, early January
Broccoli transplants, Feb-March
Cabbage transplants, Feb-March
Tomato transplants, March
Beans (snap pole and bush) March-May
Pepper transplants, March-May
Eggplant transplants, April-May
Okra, April-July


Planting the following combinations in proximity can increase plant productivity, help maximize space, and aid in pest control and pollination.



Basil- Full sun, varieties include Anise (smells like licorice), Cinnamon, Lemon
Chives- Part shade, garlic flavor, foliage is flat and strappy
Oregano- Full sun, varieties include Golden (mild flavor); French (sharp and pungent flavor) ; Winter (sweet and spicy taste)
Rosemary- Full sun, fragrant, can grow as a bushy shrub of five feet tall and wide
Sage/Salvia-Full sun to partial shade, varieties include Pineapple, Prostrate (balsamic flavor), Purple or Red (very strong flavor)


Basil is a great source of vitamin A, magnesium, potassium, and iron.
Bell peppers are a great source of vitamin C. They contain twice as much (by weight) as citrus fruits. Green sweet bell peppers have twice the vitamin C of oranges. Red and yellow bell peppers have four times as much.
Broccoli and cauliflower are the only vegetables that are also flowers. Ounce for ounce, broccoli has more vitamin C than an orange and as much calcium as a glass of milk.
The normal color of carrots is purple, but the orange carrot is the type that we all know and love and so it is the carrot that we grow.
Cilantro is a member of the carrot family.
Cucumbers have the highest water content of any vegetable.
Eggplants are members of the potato family.
Squash is technically a fruit (like a tomato, it has seeds) and is great source of beta carotene.

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