A Beginner’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening + A Giveaway

Starting any new project can bring on doubts and concerns.  When it comes to planting your first vegetable garden those thoughts can be double fold because at the end of the day your reward is tangible.  Fresh, juicy, sweet homegrown vegetables. Flavors not like any you tasted before.  So of course you want to succeed. And I’m going to give you some tips on how to be the most successful beginner vegetable gardener around.  I’m not going to get all detailed and scientific on you.  Just some realistic, common sense tips to help you on your way.  Only you know how much sun your location truly gets or what type of soil you have and even if you have stacked all the right cards in your hand Mother Nature will still be your ultimate judge.

So many varieties of lettuce can be planted for the best salad around.

So many varieties of lettuce can be planted for the best salad around.

1. Keep it Small

When you are first starting out don’t go digging an acreage of soil and picking 50 different varieties of plants to grow.  You may decide you don’t like gardening after all and an over ambitious idea will get you to that decision sooner.  A simple 8 x 8 is sufficient for a handful of plants.  You can always expand as you get the hang of it.  And don’t rule out using containers for vegetables.

2. Pick 3 or 4 vegetables that you actually eat.

Don’t start growing celeriac or kohlrabi if you have no intentions of actually eating it. Look at what you normally pick up at the grocery store. Try growing some of those. Lettuce, tomatoes, sweet peppers, beans and carrots are probably your safest bet the first time around.  And go to the garden center and buy already established plants.  I want you to get the hang of growing successfully before you venture into seeds.

Can't go wrong with carrots!

Can’t go wrong with carrots!

3. Know your location

Vegetables need three important things:


Compost rich and well draining is the standby.  If you have thick clay or loose sandy soil you will have to do some work to fix it.  This is also where you could consider using containers your first time around since bags of perfect vegetable growing soil can easily be purchased.


Don’t dig your garden way in the back forty of your property.  Vegetables need water to survive so make sure you can easily obtain it for your garden. And water will be very important because you need lots of hot, drying sun. They need about 1 inch of water per week but if you are in a heat wave and the plants look parched give them a drink.


Remember this equation: sun = sugar. What that means is the more sun your plants receive the sweeter and tastier they will be.  There are cooler, shadier vegetable varieties out there but the majority prefer bright sunny days.  Once again containers are movable and can help you get the amount of sun you need.


4. Accept that nothing works as planned.

Despite all our good intentions things may not go according to plan.  The summer may be abnormally dry or wet. You may go away on a last minute vacation and the garden can get forgotten. Things happens, plants die.  Yet by keeping your investment small and manageable the loss may not be so huge.  And if you end up with an abundance of delicious tasting vegetables after all bravo my friend you have done it!  Time to think about expansion.

Thanks to my friends over at Raincoast Books I want to help you have even more success in your garden.

Tomatomania is THE resource you need on growing tomatoes in your garden.  From practical growing advice to recipes and cooking tips you can’t learn enough about this perfect beginner plant. And I want to give one lucky winner there one copy to enjoy. Enter below and leave me a comment telling me what you have or want to plant in your garden this year.

Happy Gardening!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest Rules:

Open to legal Canadian (excluding Quebec) and US residents.
No purchase necessary to enter.
Canadian Winner is required to answer a skill testing question. Winner will be notified by email on July 2, 2015 and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected.
Contest runs from June 22, 2015 to June 29, 2015.

*I have generously received  Tomatomania free of charge however all opinions are entirely my own.

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  1. Tomatoes, there is nothing quite like the taste of tomatoes fresh from the garden!
  2. I usually only grow herbs but I really want to grow my own tomatoes, to go with my yummy basil :)
  3. Tomatoes, squash, potatoes, herbs, cucumber. Lots of yummy!
  4. I plant tomatoes and cucumbers.
  5. I am only growing herbs right now - but I would love to grow beans, lettuce and tomatoes!
  6. I just have a shady balcony, and I'd like to blame it for not growing much out there ;) This year, I planted 4 small strawberry plants in a box, along with some pots of marrocan mint, thai basil, cilantro. The cilantro is not doing well at all, but the mint and the thai basil look pretty healthy, and they've been on my balcony for over a month! I have high hopes for them. As for the strawberries, I think berries are growing from the blossoms. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I am hoping next year to grow a few more plants, and slowly build up to a real garden, maybe with a plot in the community garden. That would be AWESOME!

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