Start small. If you're beginning your first garden, help yourself avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed with weeding and general maintenance. You can grow a surprising amount of food in a bed that's 10 to 12 square feet. This beautiful raised bed of lettuces was posted by RMSer sunangel106.
Find the sun. Most vegetables want six hours of direct sun a day and more if they can get it. Exceptions include lettuce and radishes, which can get by with less.DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Build up your soil. The foundation of a healthy, productive garden is a rich, well-draining, crumbly soil that has good tilth. Liberally add organic matter such as finished compost, bagged humus and straw.
Time your crops. Soil temperature matters as much as air temperature when you're planting. Even peas, which are spring crops that are resistant to light frost once they're growing, won't germinate when the soil is below 39 degrees.DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Be ready to supply cover if a late frost hits. You can provide protection to tender plants with a purchased cloche ...DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited
... or with something as simple and homemade as sheets of plastic fastened together with clothespins. Whichever method you use, be sure to remove the cover in the morning so the plant doesn't overheat.
Mulch, mulch, mulch. You wouldn't think twice about mulching your ornamental beds, so do the same with your veggie and fruit plantings. Keeping a layer of organic mulch over this radicchio's shallow roots helps conserve moisture and suppress weeds.
Anticipate animals and other pests. To a raccoon these young corn plants mean dinner in the making, once the ears are fully developed. Talk to your neighbors and try to learn what pests to expect in your area. With the right kind of fencing, you can deter raccoons, rabbits, deer, dogs and other unwelcome visitors.DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited, Photolibrary: Gary K Smith
Mingle your plants. Too much of the same kind of plant in a grouping sends \"eat here\" messages to bad bugs. Here, a variety of plants shares the space, and marigolds serve as companion plants to help ward off bugs.
Stay on top of the harvest. Pick produce when it's ready. Removing beans as they mature allows more of the plant's energy to go into supporting the later fruit that forms.DK - Garden Design © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Keep your vegetable garden close. Where you can, find a way to integrate your fruit and veggie garden with an area of your outdoor space where you tend to hang out. When the crops are close at hand, you're much more likely to pluck off a bad bug, give a thirsty plant a drink or pick your vegetables as they become ready.DK - Garden Design © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Bonus Tip: Give the garden a little structure. Edible gardens tend to look a little ragged by midsummer. Help them look neat by creating a bit of hardscaping to \"contain\" things.