Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was that beautiful raised bed kitchen garden you saw on Pinterest. Starting a productive and durable veggie garden takes some careful planning before you can even think about planting your first seed. We've got 5 steps to help you get started.
Step 1: Set a Budget for How Much You'd Like to Spend on Your Veggie Garden
We're all susceptible to impulse buying, so having a budget will prevent you from tossing that extra gardening tool, starter plant, or seed packet into your cart.
Your budget might not be as high as you'd like, but just get started now with what you can spend.
You can always add another raised bed or buy better tools in the future.
Step 2: Set Your Intentions for Growing in the Garden
Here are some questions to help you prioritize what's really important when it comes to creating your garden space:
Why do you want to start a garden?
If your intention is to create a beautiful edible garden, you might go about planning it differently than if your intention is to never buy another herb from the grocery store again. Will this be a beautiful space to entertain and relax? Or will this be a highly productive space where function trumps form?
How Much Would you like to grow in your veggie garden?
This will also influence how much space you want to turn over for your garden. Alternatively, the space you have available to use for your garden could limit how much you'll be able to grow.
What Would you most like to grow in your garden?
Prioritize your favorite fruits and veggies. If there's a veggie your toddler will reliably eat, you definitely want to see if it's possible to grow that veggie here in Central Texas.
Once you have your plant list, there are two important follow-up questions to consider:
When do those plants grow best here in Central Texas?
Is it best to start these plants by starter plants purchased from the store or by seeds?
How much time would you like to spend in the garden?
A veggie garden that's set up properly does not require a ton of daily maintenance. That being said, the amount of time you're able or willing to devote to your garden space each week will be a determining factor in what and how much you can grow.
Step 3: Observe Your Outdoor Space
Before picking a location for your garden, it's important to take note of these five important factors:
Observe where the sun rises and sets in your outdoor space and consider how that will change over the seasons. Also, what type of structures block sunlight? Do you have mature trees that shade a corner of your yard? A garage? A tall shed? Ideally, you want your garden to be on the south side of any tall structures.
Pro Tip: Veggies need sun to grow to their fullest potential. A general guideline is at least 2 - 4 hours for herbs and leafy greens; 6+ hours for root crops, beans, and peas; and 8+ hours for fruiting crops.
Locate all water sources in your outdoor space. How far is your sunniest area from a spigot?
Ideally, you'll want to place your garden close to a water source, or even better, have your garden set up for drip irrigation.
Think about what types of wildlife you might have to contend with in your space. Do you have what we like to call a "squirrel highway" along your fence that would give squirrels easy access to your tomatoes? Do you have an open yard that deer could wander into? Part of your garden design might need to take limiting easy access to your plants into consideration.
The final thing to note is where you have easy access to your home. You don't want your garden to be in a forgotten corner of your backyard or tucked away in a side yard. Out of sight really does mean out of mind, so place your garden in an area visible from a window or the back door. That way, you'll remember to regularly tend it and will be able to enjoy its beauty.
You also need to be able to get to your garden easily so that you can zip outside to cut some herbs or greens for dinner.
We want the garden to be an enjoyable part of your daily life, not something you slog out to perform maintenance on once a month.
Step 4: Select Your Garden Style
Your garden should feel like an extension of your home. Match your garden style (farmhouse, modern, traditional, eclectic) to the architectural style of your home as close as possible.
Note color tones and materials used on the outside of your house and try to select materials for your garden that match or mirror those elements.
Step 5: Lettuce Help You Grow
We know that starting a garden can be overwhelming (we've been there). We created Lettuce Grow Something to be a place where beginner and intermediate gardeners can learn to grow veggies in their own outdoor spaces.
A Lettuce Grow Something garden consultant can help you select the ideal location for your garden and plan what to plant for each growing season based on your unique goals and preferences. We can even design and/or install your raised beds for you.
Helping people start their gardens is what we love most, so if you're ready, schedule an onsite or virtual consultation, and we can get growing!