The Ultimate Vegetable Planting Guide: How To Create a Thriving Garden

Gardening can be a rewarding hobby, whether you stick with plants and flowers or branch out into vegetable gardening. And having a thriving garden is easier than you think. Read all about the benefits of growing your own food and more in this vegetable planting guide. You’ll learn what gives organic gardening the edge over conventional methods, find out how you can make vegetable gardening work indoors or out, and much more.

Why Grow Your Own Veggies?

From minimizing pesticides and chemicals to exploring new varieties of fruits, vegetables, and herbs you can’t find at your local supermarket, there are more than a few good reasons to grow your own food. While it takes time to establish your garden and see it thrive, it’s worth the effort — especially when you consider the ways you and your family can benefit. 

Here are just a few reasons to start a home garden:

  • Enjoy the Freshest Fruits and Veggies: Nothing can beat picking summer tomatoes from your backyard or snipping fresh herbs from your kitchen windowsill. After all, you never really know when something at the grocery store was picked or how long it took to get there. When you grow your own fruits and vegetables, you’ll always know.
  • Grow More Nutritious Food: Along with upping the freshness factor, fruits and veggies from your backyard garden are more nutritious. Soil isn’t as nutrient-rich as it used to be, but you can do a lot to change that in your own garden. Start by choosing the best organic potting soil you can find. When your plants get all the nutrients they need, so will you.
  • Stay on Track With Healthy Habits: If you’re focusing on your wellness, a home garden can go a long way in helping you stick to your goals. Not only is it more convenient to make a comforting bowl of parsnip soup or saute some greens right from your garden, it’ll also help you stay in shape. Gardening is a great way to spend time outdoors being active, and it can help decrease stress.
  • New Ways to Learn and Explore: Whether you opt for an indoor herb garden or an outdoor patio garden, gardening is a fantastic way to learn about the natural world. Kids and grown-ups alike can see photosynthesis in action, or learn about composting and watch kitchen scraps transform into nutrient-dense organic matter. New adventures await!
  • Connect With Nature: No matter where you live or how much space you have available, you can always use gardening as a way to engage with nature. It can be as simple as relaxing with a good book in your backyard garden or adding a plant to your desk. Try Back to the Root’s Self Watering Succulent to bring a bit of nature inside. This mini hydroponic system comes with everything you need to grow beautiful cacti and succulents. Another bonus? They’re super low maintenance. 

Choosing Better With Organic Gardening

vegetable planting guide: Hands planting seeds on soil

You’ve likely heard a lot about choosing organic lately. From big box stores to farmer’s markets, more people are interested in organic foods. Like growing your own food, there are plenty of good reasons why organic gardening is worth considering. Keep these ideas in mind while you decide if keeping an organic garden is right for you and your family.

Manage Soil Quality

Better soil quality is one of the most significant advantages organic gardening offers over conventional practices. When you keep your own garden, you’re in charge of maintaining the soil quality every step of the way.

Start with organic potting soil. Unlike conventional soil, an organic potting mix will have an abundance of organic material rich in vital nutrients that will nurture every inch of your plant’s roots. A high-quality blend will also allow your plants to get enough oxygen and maintain proper drainage.

There are other things you can do to maintain your soil quality too. Go for organic fertilizers such as bone meal, compost, and manure over conventional options. Over time, your organic fertilizer will work with microbes and fungi already present in your garden to improve your soil. 

Psst: Back to the Roots will be launching its own organic potting soil in Spring ‘21, so keep your eyes peeled!

Cut Back on Chemical and Pesticide Use

Reduced chemicals and other nasties is another reason people decide organic gardening is better for their families. 

Starting an organic garden is a terrific way of cutting back on the number of chemicals and pesticides that make their way into your home. Try using mulch as an alternative to chemical-laden weed killers to control weed growth. Pine straw, grass clippings, leaves, and wood chips will work to keep weeds at bay.

Instead of hazardous pest control sprays, get crafty and make your own insecticidal soap or find organic-safe versions at your local garden center

There are other natural pest control options too. Believe it or not, ladybugs are more than just friendly visitors in your garden. They love to chow down on aphids, mites, and other small insects that can wreak havoc on your vegetable crops. Diatomaceous earth is another easy and safe option to use around kids and pets, but be sure to reapply after rain showers or waterings.

Psst: If you have bunnies, deer, and other animals visiting your garden, think about putting up fencing or offering alternative food sources. Sometimes it can be as simple as planting things they don’t like. Plants that are strongly scented or have tough leaves that aren’t good for chewing may discourage them from coming back.

Care for the Environment

Keeping an organic garden is an earth-friendly activity. When you avoid chemicals and pesticides in your garden, you’re preventing contaminants from making their way into the water supply or damaging the soil. 

You’re also protecting important wildlife. Pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and moths are safe in chemical-free gardens, as are any birds that might help themselves to a taste of your fruits and veggies. 

By choosing produce from your garden over the grocery store, you’re helping to eliminate pollution too. Instead of being trucked across state and county lines, your produce never has to travel farther than your garden bed to your plate — which puts more money back in your wallet, too. 

Setting Your Garden Up for Success

vegetable planting guide: Family gardening in the backyard

Before you officially break ground and start planting, give some thought to where you’d like to have your garden. 

Do you have room in your backyard or on a balcony for a few pots? Maybe you’re short on space and only have a kitchen countertop or windowsill. Whether you’re hoping to spend early spring and summer in the yard or are curious about setting up a winter vegetable patch, you can still have a successful garden. The key is proper preparation.

Go Time

When you’re trying to narrow down planting dates and decide what you should put in your garden, start with a plant hardiness zone finder. Then check your frost dates. These are two critical factors that can make all the difference in your vegetable garden.

Unless you decide to start an indoor garden, where you live will determine your growing season. Generally, you’ll want to wait until the last frost before planting your seeds. Otherwise, cooler soil temperature could adversely affect germination. 

If you live in a region with a shorter growing season, you can always start your seeds indoors and then transplant them once it’s warm enough.

Psst: Look on the back of your seed packets for a wealth of gardening information. Everything from spacing to sunlight requirements is right on the packaging.

Indoor Gardening

Short on space but still want the pleasure of keeping a home garden? No problem. These options work in tight spaces and still help you enjoy growing vegetables indoors:

  • Hydroponic Gardening Systems: A hydroponic garden is entirely self-contained and allows you to grow various fruits and vegetables year-round, without worrying about pests, frost, or growing seasons. Depending on what you plant, a grow light may be all you need to see thriving plants shoot up in no time. Back to the Root’s Water Garden Duo gives you the option of sticking with a regular hydroponic system or adding a fish friend to create an aquaponic garden. Waste from your fish will help feed your plants while they work to keep the tank clean. Each kit also comes with a STEM curriculum so everyone in your home can learn about hydroponic gardening. (Home school is now in session!) 
  • Terrariums: If you aren’t familiar with them, a terrarium is a glass container (usually sealed) that contains soil and plants. While they can be decorative, some terrariums can be used to grow an edible garden. Back to the Root’s Organic Terrarium Grow Kit has everything you need to grow microgreens in as few as seven days. In no time at all, you can start adding these healthy greens to sandwiches and salads.
  • Herb Growing Kits: When you need to start small, look no further than a kitchen herb garden. Herb growing kits make having a home garden a breeze. And they’re a great way to build your confidence when you’re new to gardening. Before long, you’ll feel ready to expand your herb garden with chives, rosemary, sage, and more. With a quick snip, you can add herbs to soups, salads, and pasta.

Outdoor Gardening

Outdoor gardening gives you more flexibility than indoor gardening, but it’s still important to be mindful of where you plant. Your plants need to get enough sun while being protected from the elements. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Container Gardening: Container gardening lends itself well to balconies, patios, and other small outdoor garden spaces, but it works in larger outdoor areas too. Planting your garden in individual pots means you can move plants around when you need to so they can spend more time in the sunshine, in the shade, or indoors in harsh weather conditions. 
  • Garden Beds: When you think of an outdoor garden, a traditional garden bed may come to mind. There are several ways you can set up your garden bed, but if you’d like help sorting it out, look into garden planning apps. They can help you decide what to plant and when, how to arrange plants, how much spacing to leave in between, and which plants grow well next to each other.
  • Raised Garden Beds: Depending on the crops you’d like to plant and the soil quality in your garden, a raised bed might be the perfect fit. And they offer better drainage and protection from pests and other critters who might like to feast on your plants. Check out Back to the Root’s Fabric Raised Garden Bed. It’s portable and perfect for expanding your garden. Unlike wooden garden beds, this fabric bed folds down for easy storage, and it’s made from durable material, so you can use it for multiple gardening seasons. 

Picking Out Your Vegetables

Mother and son watering the plants

One of the best parts of having your own vegetable garden is growing what you want and experimenting with new varieties or favorites that aren’t easy to find at the store. If you’re looking for vegetable inspiration, check out this list of vegetables to get you started, from juicy summer crops to a savory fall harvest:

Warm Season Crops

While it will depend on your climate, warm-weather crops generally do best after the danger of frost has passed. Remember, if you have a shorter growing season, you can start your plants indoors before transplanting them outside. 

  • Watermelons
  • Cantaloupes
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Cucumbers
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Okra
  • Leeks 
  • Lima Beans
  • Peppers

Cool Season Crops

You don’t have to wait for winter to roll through your region before you start planting cool-weather crops. Summer’s warmer temperatures can support the germination process, especially if a plant takes longer to reach maturity. Be sure to cross-check the information on your seed packets with what grows best in your region.

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Radishes
  • Collard greens
  • Kohlrabi
  • Turnips
  • Rutabaga
  • Swiss chard 
  • Parsnips
  • Endive
  • Shallots 

Use Our Vegetable Planting Guide for a Flourishing Garden

Few hobbies are as rewarding as gardening. You can save money, stay on track with healthy habits, care for the environment, and connect with nature. No matter how much (or how little) space you have, there’s a way to make vegetable gardening work with your lifestyle.

With our vegetable planting guide, you can feel confident getting to work on your own veggie garden. These creative tips and tricks will help you and your family enjoy a bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. For more gardening guides and inspiration, be sure and check out more on the Back to the Roots blog!

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