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Vegetable Gardening for Beginners: 16 Tips and Tricks

Even if you've never planted a vegetable garden before, follow our HGTV garden experts' tips and you'll be planting a bumper crop of tomatoes, peppers and lettuce before you know it.

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Photo: Debbie Wolfe

Why You Should Plant a Vegetable Garden

It's uniquely satisfying to grow your own food from scratch. There are lots of reasons to plant a vegetable garden. When you grow your own produce, you can ensure your vegetables are free from chemicals and that you will have a reliable supply of food on hand. Vegetable gardening is also a great way to involve children in the incredible process of watching plants or seeds sprout fruit or vegetables they can eat. And after you get going, planting and eating your own fruit and vegetables can be cheaper than buying produce at the grocery store (homegrown produce also tends to taste better). A small tomato plant, for instance, can yield up to 10 pounds of tomatoes throughout the growing season. Read on for our best tips for ensuring your vegetable garden is productive from the get-go.

grow these super healthy veggies

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Know Your Zone

Absolutely critical for any successful garden is knowing what zone you live in. Your gardening zone will determine what and when you can plant. You can easily determine your garden zone by heading to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

more about plant zones

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Planting Rules of Thumb

The techniques related to planting will differ for each crop, and whether the crop is sown directly into the garden or started indoors and transplanted to the garden. Planting depth, spacing and requirements for temperature, soil, sun, water and nutrients are all basic factors for the survival and success of the crop (read your seed packet or seedling tag info closely and follow to the letter). Most crops will have some margin for error, but too many stress factors can lead to crop failure. The best way to minimize problems here is to start small. Get comfortable with a few crops at first, and then expand as you learn more.

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Photo: Photo by Jane Coclasure courtesy of P. Allen Smith.

Small Is OK

Some beginning gardeners get intimidated about growing a home vegetable garden because they feel like they don't have the space to do it. But you don't need a big yard to grow edibles. You can create a productive vegetable garden in small pots on a deck, in a raised bed or even a windowbox. More and more plant companies are also focusing on edibles that work well in small spaces. A common recommendation for a beginner vegetable garden is 10' x 10' or 16' x 10' but you can go as small as 4' x 4'. You can always increase that size if you need to next season.

design ideas for a small garden

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