How to start an abundant vegetable garden in 8 easy steps! Lots of organic vegetable gardening tips for beginners such as design, planning, layout, soil, composting, natural pest control, and more!
We have been growing our own vegetables for over 10 years, and I can honestly say that vegetable gardening is so deeply rewarding! If you are looking for tips on how to start a vegetable garden from scratch, let’s first look at one of the most inspiring examples –
What is possible on 1/10 of an acre? The Dervaes family of four produces about 6,000 pounds of produce a year on their tenth-of-an-acre property in Pasadena CA.
With over 400 varieties of fruit, vegetable and herbs, this tiny urban farm is 60 to 150 times as efficient as industrial farms, without relying on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Doesn’t this inspire you to start a veggie garden today? 🙂
Step 1: start with soil building
( Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here. )
Good soil with lots of organic matter, loamy structure and healthy soil life is the foundation for all successful gardening. If your existing soil is good, all you need to do is top dress the soil with compost before each growing season. ( Above images source lost, please let me know if you find them!)
For example, we spread a 1″ to 2″ layer of mushrooms compost (from a local farm) each spring and fall, before we plant our spring-summer or fall-winter garden.
If you have poor soil, you can either dig in lots of compost or manure during the first season, or build raised beds (see Step 3 for more) and fill them with a good mix of soil and compost or manure.
We used to keep a compost bin. Now we just dig our kitchen scraps directly into our garden soil each week and let the earth worms do the work. Earthworms eat organic matter, and worm castings are some of the best natural fertilizers.
You can often find low cost or fee compost and manure on craigslist, or contact your local farms that raise animals. We have gotten great quality mushroom compost, horse manure, etc from local farms.
Here’s another great idea for a super easy compost bin great for small gardens: fabric compost bins and pots 2-in-1! You can fill them with leaves and scraps, and plant directly in them when the compost is ready! Check out this video tutorial.
Step 2: vegetable garden planning and layout
A well designed vegetable garden is easily accessible, has good sun orientation, and a good mix of mutually beneficial elements .
Make your kitchen garden a beautiful place to enjoy nature and gather with friends. Pergolas, benches, and outdoor kitchens are all great additions to a veggie garden. ( Source: Staabolmsted | Urban Homestead )
How about incorporating a DIY outdoor pizza oven and use your fresh home grown food right in the garden?
Step 3: raised beds are short cuts to a successful vegetable garden
There are so many benefits of raised beds. It is easier to maintain good soil structure, to plant and weed, and to keep a garden looking organized and attractive with raised beds.
Video tutorial by VermiBag on YouTube.
Step 4: start a vegetable garden from scratch: seeds, transplants, spacing
You can plant vegetables either by direct seed or by transplants. Here’s our detailed tutorial on how to start seeds in 1/3 of the time with 3X more success!
You can direct seed any vegetables in the garden, however, we like to grow some vegetable from seeds in pots first. When the seedlings get bigger we plant them into the garden. These include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, tomato , pepper, summer and winter squash, and cucumber.
Step 5: watering and fertilizing your vegetable garden
Regular watering is super important for your garden to be healthy and productive. Here in southern California, we water our garden 2-3 times a week during hot months, and once a week during colder winter months.
Because we add compost to the garden twice a year (see Step 1), and dig in organic matter regularly, our soil is really good, and we don’t use much fertilizer in the garden.
We love Kellogg and Dr. Earth organic fertilizers for growing seedlings in containers, and it works great in the garden too if your soil needs a boost.
Step 6: use trellis and vertical structures to increase growing space
Vertical growing structure such as garden trellises can also be very attractive while offering supports for vines such as beans and cucumbers. Here are 24 easy DIY garden trellis ideas for you to make!
Step 7: control vegetable garden pests and weeds naturally
A garden with healthy plants, good soil and regular watering is very resilient to pests. It is also easy to control common garden pests organically.
Sluggo is a great product for controlling slugs and snails, yet it’s safe for wildlife and pets.
This simple and attractive raised bed with fencing by Homefront Farmers. is way to screen out deer and rabbits. You can also use fencing and netting attached to wood posts to protect your garden.
You can spray aphids with water or a diluted dish soap with a ratio of 1 tablespoon of dish soap and 1 quart of water, or 5 tablespoons of soap per 1 gallon of water. Caterpillars and white flies can be controlled with organic garden sprays like this.
Step 8: use greenhouses to extend the growing season
A greenhouse or a simple cold frame can extend the growing season for weeks, and give you year round harvest even in cold climates like Vermont. Here are 42 best DIY greenhouses from simple cold frames to large hoop tunnels!
Happy growing friends! See you soon!