The Q&A Archives: Starting A Garden From Scratch

Question: My wife and three daughters wish to start a garden...the problem is I don't have a clue as to where to start. I have all the land I need but don't know if I should push back some dirt with a tractor and bring in topsoil, till the land that is there, or what. We don't want to make it to large...just start off large enough to plant a few tomato plants, cucumber plants, and maybe some beans, peppers, etc. Can you guide me in the right direction.

Answer: For the small home vegetable plot, it is wise not to make the area too large. It is often easier for beginners to begin with a small area and add to it from year to year. If you use the square foot method of gardening and plant in patches rather than rows, you will need far less space than you might expect. You might want to take a look at the classic "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew for guidance on soil preparation, garden planning, vegetable garden care, seed starting, a calendar of when to start seeds and set out plants, and so on. I would suggest you look at another valuable reference, full of straightforward practical information, "Vegetable Gardening for Dummies" to help with your preliminary planning and ongoing care of the garden. You might also want to consult with your county extension (776-9631) for help with soil testing and interpreting the results, as well as suggested vegetable varieties for your area. Have fun with your new garden!

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