Looking for ways to grow your own food? Learn how to start growing a vegetable garden with these simple tips.

Are you tired of buying expensive vegetables at the grocery store? Have you ever considered growing your own vegetable garden?

Not only is it a rewarding and enjoyable activity, but it also offers numerous benefits for your health, wallet, and the environment.

Today, I’m sharing why everyone should grow their own vegetables, the benefits, providing tips on planting and maintaining a vegetable garden, and highlighting some easy-care vegetables to get you started.

We’ll also dive into the distinction between annual and perennial vegetables. Plus when to plant warm and cool season varieties.

And if you are new to gardening or have limited growing space, we are also chatting about how to grow vegetables in containers too

Are you ready? Let’s get growing!

(Posts on stacyling.com may contain affiliate links. Click HERE for full disclosure.)

close up of creme caramel coreopsis

Why Everyone Should Grow Their Own Vegetable Garden

If you’ve not started a vegetable garden of your own yet, you are missing out! There is nothing quite like growing your own vegetables, herbs, and fruits.

And the best part?

The produce is amazing and it’s not hard to do!

So even if you are a gardening newbie, you’ve got to give growing vegetables a shot. Here are some benefits of growing a vegetable garden.

Fresh and Nutritious Produce

When you grow your own vegetables, you have the opportunity to enjoy fresh and nutritious produce right from your backyard.

Store-bought vegetables often travel long distances and may lose some of their freshness and nutritional value over time.

By growing your own, you can harvest vegetables at their peak ripeness, ensuring maximum flavor and nutrient content.

holding fresh tomatoes from the vegetable garden -freezing tomatoes

Cost Savings

Growing your own vegetables can lead to significant cost savings in the long run.

Sure the initial cost of starting a garden will be an investment. But once you get it going, there are savings to be had. Especially if you learn how to grow things from seed.

Because once the garden is set up, the cost of seeds or seedlings is often much lower than continually buying vegetables from the store.

Additionally, you can grow a variety of vegetables, including expensive or hard-to-find ones, without breaking the bank.

If starting plants from seed sounds intimidating, you don’t have to do it that way. Because you can easily find young plants available at local nurseries during the growing season too.

Anchor wood sculpture outside green garden fence that surrounds the potager garden in new jersey
The potager garden

Environmental Benefits

By cultivating your own vegetable garden, you contribute to a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle.

Commercial agriculture often relies on pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and long-distance transportation, which can have adverse effects on the environment.

By opting for organic gardening methods, you can reduce your carbon footprint and minimize the use of harmful chemicals.

Simply put, you have so much more control over how your food is grown and what you ingest.

two different sage plants in the potager garden
Sage plants in the potager garden

Boosts Mental Wellness

But that’s not all! Growing your own vegetable garden not only nourishes your body but also provides significant mental and emotional benefits.

Tending to plants, watching them grow, and eventually harvesting the fruits of your labor can be incredibly therapeutic.

Engaging in gardening activities has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and increase overall well-being.

The simple act of nurturing plants and witnessing their growth fosters a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. It allows you to connect with nature, experience the calming effects of being outdoors, and provide a creative outlet.

Whether it’s the simple act of sowing seeds or the joy of harvesting fresh vegetables, a vegetable garden offers a fulfilling and gratifying experience that can positively impact your mental well-being.

home tour with raised garden beds

How to Plant and Maintain a Vegetable Garden

Now that you know the benefits of growing your own vegetable garden, how do you do it?

Follow these simple tips for planting and maintaining a bountiful garden.

Choose the Right Location

Select a location for your vegetable garden that receives at least six hours of sunlight each day.

Ensure the area has well-drained soil with easy access to water.

If the ground is rocky or the soil is poor quality, consider building or purchasing raised garden beds. You’ll lift the beds up making it easier to work and have a lot more control over the soil.

And if you have limited space, consider vertical gardening or growing vegetables in containers.

pepper plant in the potager garden
Jalapeno and Pepper Plants

Prepare the Soil

Speaking of poor soil quality, before planting, test the soil to help you determine how healthy the it is and what amendments, if any, are necessary.

Then prepare the soil by removing weeds, rocks, and debris. Depending on your plot, you may or may not need to till it to loosen up the soil so it’s easier to plant.

Incorporate organic matter, such as compost, leaf mold, or well-rotted manure, to improve soil fertility and drainage.

jalapenos ready for harvesting in the vegetable garden
Jalapenos ready for harvesting in the potager garden

Carefully Select Your Vegetables

Choose vegetables that are suited to your climate and growing conditions. Opt for easy-care varieties that are resistant to common pests and diseases so you find greater success with growing them.

Some beginner-friendly options include tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, and herbs like basil or mint.

Sure there are lots of beautiful heirloom varieties to grow, but they tend to be more prone to pests and diseases. Such varieties will make more work for you and cause you to feel less successful if they don’t do well.

So, particularly if you are new to gardening or have a busy lifestyle, read the plant tag and see if they are specifically noted as disease-resistant varieties. Because those are the ones you want to grow.

cucumbers growing in the garden to make salad with dill

Cool-Season vs. Warm-Season Vegetables

To successfully grow vegetables, it’s important to learn the difference between cool and warm-season vegetables.

Cool-season and warm-season vegetables are categorized based on their preferred growing conditions and temperature requirements.

Understanding the difference between these two types can help you plan your vegetable garden more effectively.

Cool-Season Vegetables

Cool-season vegetables thrive in cooler temperatures, typically in spring and fall when the weather is more mild. These vegetables are often frost-tolerant and can withstand cooler soil temperatures.

Examples of cool-season vegetables include:

  • Leafy Greens: Lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, and Swiss chard are popular cool-season leafy greens.
  • Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale fall into this category.
  • Root Vegetables: Carrots, radishes, beets, turnips, and parsnips are cool-season root vegetables.
  • Peas: Both shelling peas and snap peas are cool-season vegetables that thrive in cooler temperatures.
  • Alliums: Onions, leeks, and garlic are considered cool-season vegetables.
holding a home grown cucumber from the vegatable garden

Warm-Season Vegetables

Warm-season vegetables, on the other hand, require higher temperatures and are best grown during the summer months. They generally require more sunlight and warmer soil to germinate and grow properly.

Some examples of warm-season vegetables include:

  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes are heat-loving vegetables that require ample sunlight and warm temperatures.
  • Peppers: Bell peppers, chili peppers, and other varieties prefer warm conditions for optimal growth.
  • Cucurbits: Cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, melons, and pumpkins are warm-season cucurbit vegetables.
  • Beans: Green beans, pole beans, and lima beans are warm-season legume vegetables.
  • Corn: Sweet corn is a classic warm-season vegetable that thrives in warm climates.
  • Eggplant: Eggplants prefer hot temperatures and thrive during the summer months.

It’s important to note that these are general guidelines, and specific varieties within each vegetable type may have slightly different temperature preferences based on your locality.

Always refer to the specific planting instructions on the plant tag and recommended growing seasons for the particular varieties you choose to grow.

And if you are unsure about something, contact your local cooperative extension because they are the BEST reference for where you garden.

First flowers in the potager garden with raised garden beds filled with vegetables flowers and herbs with fountain and green garden fence
Potager garden with flowers, vegetables, and herbs

Plant and Water Properly

Follow the instructions on seed packets or nursery tags for planting depth and spacing. Planting too closely together can prevent airflow and reduce the light needed for optimal growth.

Water your vegetable garden regularly, providing enough moisture without overwatering. It’s a good idea to check the soil to see how saturated the soil actually is before watering.

A good rule of thumb is to stick your finger into the soil about an inch. If the soil is dry, it’s time to water. Or you can use a moisture meter like this.

In the heat of summer, you’ll likely be watering each day. But in a very rainy spring or fall? You will be watering less often.

Avoid watering from above and instead, water the base of plants or use a drip irrigation system.

pruned tomatoes in raised beds in the potager garden
Recently pruned tomatoes in the potager garden

Mulching

Mulching around plants can help conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

While wood chips are a common mulching material for flower gardens, they may not be the best choice for ones that grow vegetables. Here’s why.

  • Nitrogen Depletion: Wood chips are high in carbon and can deplete the soil of nitrogen as they break down which can lead to deficiencies in your vegetable plants.
  • Slow Decomposition: Wood chips break down more slowly compared to other organic mulch materials that can enrich the soil.
  • Acidification of Soil: As wood chips decompose, they release organic acids that can gradually acidify the soil. Many vegetable plants prefer a slightly acidic to neutral pH, so using wood chips as mulch can potentially alter the soil pH unfavorably for your crops.
  • Potential Pest Habitat: Wood chips can create a favorable environment for insects and rodents that can cause damage to your vegetable plants compared to other types of mulch.
  • Potentially Hazardous to Ingest: There is a possibility that wood mulch, particularly if it has been treated or contains certain types of wood, may contain chemicals that can leech into your soil and be taken up by your plants.
oregano with at last roses in the potager garden
Oregano with At Last Roses

Instead of wood chips, consider using the following types of mulch that are more suitable for vegetable gardens.

  • Straw: Straw breaks down relatively quickly, provides good moisture retention, and helps suppress weeds. Make sure to use straw and not hay, as hay often contains seeds that can lead to weed problems.
  • Grass Clippings: Fresh grass clippings can be spread in a thin layer around your vegetable plants to conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Avoid using clippings from lawns that have been treated with herbicides or pesticides.
  • Compost: Applying a layer of compost as mulch is beneficial for vegetable gardens. It improves soil fertility, enhances moisture retention, and provides a slow release of nutrients as it breaks down. Use well-aged compost to prevent weed growth.
  • Organic Straw or Bark Mulch: Organic straw or bark mulch specifically designed for vegetable gardens can provide weed suppression, moisture retention, and gradually enrich the soil as they decompose.

When mulching, apply a 2-4″ layer around your vegetable plants, leaving a small gap around the stem to prevent moisture-related issues.

I use compost in my own vegetable gardens and that seems to work best for me.

close up of basil
Basil

Maintain and Harvest

Regularly monitor your vegetable garden for pests or diseases. Practice proper weed control by removing them promptly.

Harvest vegetables when they reach maturity to ensure the best flavor and quality. If you are traveling, harvest before you leave and ask your caretaker to enjoy it while you are away.

Annual vs. Perennial Vegetables

Vegetables can be categorized as either annual or perennial plants. Annual vegetables complete their life cycle within one year, from seed to harvest. Examples include tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, and lettuce.

Perennial vegetables, on the other hand, have a longer lifespan and can produce for several years. Asparagus, rhubarb, artichokes, and some herbs like rosemary and thyme are common perennial vegetables. (Although some are tender so check with your local cooperative extension if you aren’t sure.)

Understanding the distinction between annual and perennial vegetables will help you plan well and make informed decisions.

fresh green tomatoes in potager garden

The Benefits of Annual vs Perennial Vegetables

Annual vegetables offer the advantage of providing a quick harvest and allowing for more flexibility in crop rotation. Since they complete their life cycle in a single year, you can experiment with different varieties and try new vegetables each season.

Annuals also tend to produce a higher yield in a shorter period, making them ideal for those who want to maximize their harvest.

Perennial vegetables, on the other hand, require less effort in terms of replanting each year. Once established, they can provide a continuous harvest for multiple seasons, saving you time and energy in the long run.

Perennials often have deep root systems, making them more drought-tolerant and better equipped to withstand changing weather conditions.

Incorporating both annual and perennial vegetables in your garden can create a well-rounded and sustainable food production system. You can enjoy the immediate benefits of annuals while investing in the long-term productivity of perennials.

lettuce in the raised garden beds
Lettuce growing in my former garden’s raised garden beds

Vegetable Gardening in Containers for Limited Space

If you want to start small or lack garden space, container gardening offers a practical and accessible solution, allowing you to cultivate vegetables even in small areas like balconies, patios, or windowsills.

Here are a few tips for successful vegetable gardening in containers:

  1. Choose the Right Containers: Select containers with good drainage holes and adequate depth to accommodate the root systems of the vegetables you choose to grow.
  2. Soil and Fertilizer: Use a high-quality organic potting mix specifically formulated for container gardening. Supplement the soil with organic fertilizers or compost to ensure proper nutrition for your plants.
  3. Select Suitable Vegetables: Choose vegetables that are well-suited for container gardening. Some excellent options include cherry or patio tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, herbs, peppers, and compact varieties of cucumbers or zucchini.
  4. Proper Watering: Containers tend to dry out faster than traditional garden beds, so monitor moisture closely. Water your containers regularly, ensuring that the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  5. Sunlight: Place your containers in an area that receives 6-8 hours of direct sunlight.
  6. Regular Maintenance: Remove any dead leaves or spent plants to promote healthy growth. Consider pruning or pinching back certain vegetables to maintain compact growth and encourage bushier foliage.
  7. Harvesting: Harvest your vegetables when they reach maturity, following the recommended guidelines for each specific plant. Regular harvesting not only provides fresh produce but also encourages continuous growth and productivity.

By embracing container gardening, you can experience the joy of growing your own vegetables, regardless of the space limitations you may face.

marigolds and tomatoes in the potager garden in raised beds
Marigolds with tomatoes

10 Easy-Care Vegetables to Grow

When it comes to easy-care vegetables, there are several options that are well-suited for beginner gardeners or those with limited time to devote to maintenance.

Here are some of the best easy-care vegetables to grow.

  1. Tomatoes: Tomatoes can be grown in containers or garden beds. Choose disease-resistant varieties for easier vegetable gardening.
  2. Lettuce and Salad Greens: Lettuce and salad greens, such as spinach and arugula, are quick-growing vegetables that can be harvested as young leaves for salads. They prefer cool weather making them ideal for spring and fall gardening.
  3. Radishes: Radishes are known for their fast growth and can be ready to harvest in as little as a month. Radishes thrive in cool weather and prefer well-drained soil.
  4. Cucumbers: Cucumbers are relatively easy to grow and can produce an abundant harvest. They require ample sunlight, regular watering, and support for climbing vines.
  5. Zucchini and Summer Squash: Zucchini and summer squash are prolific producers and can provide a bountiful harvest throughout the growing season. They prefer full sun and fertile, well-drained soil. Regular harvesting promotes continued fruit production.
  6. Peppers: Peppers are generally low-maintenance and can thrive in containers or garden beds. They require ample sunlight, regular watering, and occasional fertilization. Peppers are typically harvested when they reach their desired size and color.
  7. Herbs: While not technically vegetables, herbs are incredibly easy to grow and offer a wealth of culinary possibilities. They require sunlight, regular watering, and occasional pruning if you haven’t been harvesting.
  8. Potatoes: Potatoes can be grown with relative ease in containers, directly in the ground, or in grow bags. Plant seed potatoes in the early spring and harvest when the foliage dies back.
  9. Snap Peas: Snap peas are a cool-season crop that prefers moderate sunlight and well-drained soil. They can climb, so provide them with good support. Harvest the peas when the pods are plump and crisp.
  10. Beans: Bush beans or pole beans are excellent choices for low-maintenance gardening. Bush beans are compact and don’t require additional support, while pole beans climb and need trellises or poles. Harvest when the pods are mature but before the seeds fully develop.

Remember to consider your local climate and growing conditions when selecting vegetables for your garden. Some vegetables may perform better in specific regions or seasons.

By choosing easy-care vegetables, you can enjoy a successful and rewarding gardening experience while savoring the taste of your homegrown produce.

first flowers in the potager garden with borage zinnias dahlias larkspur strawflowers and snapdragons in raised garden beds with a fountain in front of an 1850 farmhouse

10 Ways to Minimize Pest and Disease Problems in Your Vegetable Garden

Minimizing pest and disease problems in your vegetable garden is crucial to ensuring healthy plant growth and maximizing your harvest.

By employing preventive measures and implementing good gardening practices, you can reduce the risk of pests and diseases damaging your plants.

Here are some quick tips to help you minimize these issues.

  • Choose Resistant Varieties
  • Crop Rotation
  • Provide Proper Spacing
  • Implement Good Sanitation Practices
  • Practice Water Management
  • Mulch and Weed Control
  • Attract Beneficial Insects
  • Monitor and Identify Problems Early
  • Organic Pest Control Methods
  • Consult Local Resources

By incorporating these practices into your vegetable gardening routine, you can minimize the impact of pests and diseases on your plants, leading to a healthier and more productive garden.

Remember that prevention is key, and a proactive approach is often the most effective way to maintain a thriving vegetable garden.

raised garden bed with marigolds, celery, onions and lettuce in potager garden

Vertical Support Options for Climbing Plants

While you can purchase different types of plant supports for climbing plants, you can also get pretty creative on a dime.

Here are a few different options of vertical support to try.

  • Teepee
  • Obelisk
  • Trellis
  • Wire
  • A-Frame
  • Arbor
  • Fence
  • Pole and twine
potager outdoor dining space with fountain and flowers vegetables and herbs

Conclusion

Growing your own vegetable garden is a fulfilling and rewarding endeavor with numerous benefits.

From enjoying fresh and nutritious produce to saving money and contributing to a sustainable lifestyle, the advantages are plentiful.

Whether you have a spacious backyard or just a small container, there’s always a way to nurture your green thumb and reap the rewards of a thriving vegetable garden.

Happy Gardening!

first flowers in the potager garden with larkspur, dahlias and snapdragons with fountain

More Vegetable Garden Ideas

Do you already have your own vegetable garden? What types of vegetables do you grow? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it to the blog. Would love to see you there too!

If you prefer to binge-watch Bricks ’n Blooms on TV, we go more in-depth with tours and posts on my YouTube channel. Would love to hang out with you there!

And… If you’re catching up on blog posts you may have missed, be sure to sign-up to get my newest posts via email to stay up to date with everything that’s happening here on the blog and more.

close up of creme caramel coreopsis

Garden Supplies I Use

I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites in no particular order.

Click here to shop my vintage farmhouse with close up of the front porch with flowers
hellebores and daffodils

Bricks ‘n Blooms Weekly 180

Hi there! I hope you had a great week! Random Things Happening Behind the Scenes at Bricks ‘n Blooms What a week it was! I’ve been keeping a secret and it is MAJOR news that I’m sharing today. I’m not even going to drop it down at the end of sharing my gardens with you…
Read More Bricks ‘n Blooms Weekly 180

Sign Me Up!

Sign up for my free newsletter to get blog posts, seasonal tips, recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox!

Plus, get free VIP access to my Resource Library where you’ll find insider freebies not readily available to the public.

growing vegetables with gardener holding tomatoes

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

Want to learn more about me? I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging here.

stacy ling cutting dahlias in her garden
Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling cutting zinnia flowers in her cottage garden with wood picket fence in front of garden shed

If you like this post, please follow me @bricksnblooms on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel. Or join my Facebook Group.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 Comments

  1. Great tips. Pretty much the only garden produce that I grow is corn, pumpkins, squash, berries and herbs.