Green Thumb: How to Start a Vegetable Garden

You probably all know by now that I have taken up gardening as a hobby over these past few years. You may have even seen my Instagram adventures with bunnies, mini watermelons, butterflies, and gorgeous dahlias the size of my head. It can be quite a jungle out there, but it’s so much fun planting things and watching them grow and bloom. Lately I’ve been having fun planting my own vegetables like tomatoes, kale, and baby carrots. I love the idea of having a self-sustaining veggie garden in my own backyard. And my salads have honestly never tasted so good (that’s as organic as you can get!). Since I’ve been so inspired by gardening lately, I decided to put all of my tips down in writing. Here is my advice for how to start your very own veggie garden…

How to Start a Vegetable Garden

  1. Get a raised bed.
    The easiest way to get started when planting your vegetable garden is to either buy or make a raised bed. They sell them at hardware stores including Home Depot, Crate & Barrel and Williams Sonoma. You can also build your own raised beds by buying four boards from the hardware store and nailing them together to create a box. Just make sure you aren’t using pressure-treated wood board that will allow chemicals to seep into your soil. Starting with a raised bed is important because the soil in everyone’s yard is different and will have different amounts of nutrients. Filling a raised bed with nursery-bought soil will ensure that your veggies will get the vitamins and minerals they need. And for all of you flower lovers out there, raised beds can also be used to plant a floral picking garden as well. If you aren’t into growing veggies but love flowers, you can plant your favorite blooms and not feel guilty about cutting them from your garden. It’s fun and a great way to save money if you’re like me and get in the habit of buying a fresh bouquet from the market each week.
Green Thumb: How to Start a Vegetable Garden
Added some Sweet Williams to my garden…Even though I’ve already got one.
  1. Find the right place.
    Once you have your raised bed and your soil (if you want to grow an organic garden, buy organic soil), the next step is finding the right place to plant your garden. Where you live (your climate) and how many hours of sun the spot gets a day are both going to dictate what you plant in your garden and where you plant it. There are a million websites that will tell you what to plant, what time of year, what level of hardiness your plants have (what temperature they can take) and how often you should water them. Also, certain plants grow better next to each other, so it’s important to know when you should plant in pairs. Do some research and start by finding out what environment and time of year your veggies should be planted. Then, it’s time to plant…
Green Thumb: How to Start a Vegetable Garden
The first little watermelon growing in my garden…
  1. Plant the seeds.
    Instead of buying already mature vegetable plants, start with seeds. They take longer and are less expensive. Once you’ve decided what you’re going to plant depending on your climate and time of year, simply begin planting your vegetables. Tomatoes, lettuce, squash and peppers are generally easy to grow, but you can use a trial and error method. I had lettuce planted in my garden and I recently just pulled it out because it was overgrown. Once lettuce grows too big it gets bitter, so I learned this by just experimenting. I now have kale and romaine as well as tomatoes and strawberries in my garden. However, I sometimes get some not-so-welcome guests, which brings me to my next point…
Green Thumb: How to Start a Vegetable Garden
Excuse me little guy…can you please leave some kale for the rest of us?
  1. Show some TLC.
    Once your garden starts developing and maturing, you will notice snails, aphids, and even small birds grazing on your new plants. If you want to eventually eat the veggies you’re working so hard at growing, you’ll want to use a few methods to kindly dismiss these visitors. I find that putting netting over my strawberry plants keeps the birds away. For snails, I use Sluggo. It’s an organic, non-toxic slug repellent that will keep your garden snail-free. A lot of gardening stores also sell copper in a strip that you can use like copper tape to outline the edge of your bed. It’s clearly all-natural and snails (for some reason or another) can’t cross over it! Also, once you’ve figured out how often to water your plants, I highly recommend installing a drip system in your veggie garden. It’s easy to do and ensures your plants are regularly watered. Click here for an easy tutorial.

This little guy thought my garden was an all you can eat buffet!

The main pointer I would give any of you beginner gardeners is to simply try. When I first became interested in gardening, all I had were a few pointers from my mother, and not much else. I’ve learned so much just from experimenting, and it’s so fun to see how your plants grow!

Do you have a garden? If so, what do you grow in it?

Next, I think I’m going to start a picking garden, where I can plant flowers to pick and put in vases in my home.

XO Lauren

Photos: Steve Erle for Kohl’s, @LaurenConrad via Instagram