Welcome to our guide to the world of home vegetable gardens!
Are you looking to become more self sufficient, or maybe searching for a project that will yield a little something extra for the dinner table? A vegetable garden is a great way to do both of these things.
A vegetable garden not only has a stunning visual appeal, but also a great deal of usefulness. For the casual gardener or the avid green thumb alike, a vegetable garden has a lot to offer. You can grow simple snacks for you and your family, or try to supplement entire meals with your produce.
Vegetable gardens are a real investment, and there is a bit of start up cost and elbow grease that goes into growing vegetables before you get any return.
There are many things to consider when deciding on whether or not you should invest in a vegetable garden.
What are the pros and cons of growing a vegetable garden?
- The environment – By growing your own produce, produce does not need to be grown far away, shipped to your local market, and picked up by you. This lessens the energy required to get the food to you, and is therefore better for the environment.
- For your health – This advantage is twofold. Not only are the veggies that you grow better for you than processed foods you may buy at the supermarket, but the physical labor you are putting in while tending to the garden is exercise.
- Saving money – In the long run, if your garden is successful you can save money. Seeds are cheaper than a trip to the supermarket, and if you harvest the seeds from your crops, you can keep a self sufficient cycle going which will only save more money over time.
- Reduce waste – If you make a compost heap, you will not only be helping your garden flourish, but also reducing the waste that you are producing.
- Pests and wildlife – If you are not prepared for the onslaught of nature, it can take you by surprise. There are a plethora of insects and pests that are ready to make your garden their all-you-can-eat buffet. There are ways to get rid of such pests, but this can be quite frustrating for the unprepared gardener.
- Time investment – A vegetable garden is not a set-it and forget it project. You need to actively tend to your vegetables on a regular basis to make sure things are going smoothly. This upkeep can be quite the time investment. This effort may be off-putting to many.
- It is a skill – Gardening isn’t always simple, and it is a skill that will need to be honed. Like any skill requiring practice, you will make missteps along the way. These stumbling blocks can be frustrating. Also, some crops are significantly more troublesome than others, so you may need to gain basic knowledge and skills before tackling the more difficult crops.
- You can’t grow everything – Depending on your location and the space you have, you may be limited in the things you can grow. You should look into what grows best in your area and which tools are required. There are sure to be vegetables that are just not suited for your climate.
- Loss and inconsistency – You should never count your chickens before they hatch, just as you should never count your rhubarb before they ripen. Home gardening can be inconsistent, and it is almost inevitable that you will lose crops at some point in your gardening career. This can be frustrating, but always remember that the best laid plans may go awry.
There are a number of costs that may be associated with building your own vegetable garden. You can build any number of accessory or structure to help with your vegetable garden. If you choose to build raised garden beds or greenhouses, your costs may increase a great deal.
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Without any additional features, a basic vegetable garden needs soil, fertilizer, and seeds.
If you do not have usable soil in your yard, you can find rich soil at around 40 lbs at garden stores for between $3 to $10. If you are unsure about your soil, you may want to get it tested. A soil test will run about $12.
Depending on your area, you may be able to find fertilizer easily. If you are close enough to a farm or someone who has more than they need you may be able to get fertilizer for free, or at minimum the cost to go pick it up yourself. If you are not fortunate enough to find fertilizer for free you may be looking at spending around $20 per truckload. (Source: Spark People)
It is also smart to start your own compost heap. With a bit of wire or fence, and a little of your time, you can reduce your garbage output and help your garden grow. This can supplement your need for manure.
As far as seeds are concerned, you can usually find a packet of seeds for only a few dollars. If you are able to harvest your seeds from the crops you grow to then replant, you can end up saving a great deal of money.
Find more gardens and backyard ideas in our definitive guide to backyards!
Here is a vegetable garden that uses a number of small raised garden beds to organize vegetables. Some vegetables need different care, so keeping them organized is always a good idea.
Here is a simple raised garden bed with an irrigation system in place. These kinds of accessories can be helpful with the labor involved in drawing vegetables, but can add to the cost of building your garden.
This carden consists of two square raised garden beds. These are great for yards with a bit of space. Source: Zillow Digs™
Here are some raised garden beds, with a rustic appeal and some irrigation systems. Raised garden beds are useful for keeping crops organized and can reduce bending over, which can make the work a bit easier.
Here is a lovely vegetable garden with a seat for resting after a long day tending to the crops. You can sit here and enjoy the fruits and vegetables of your labor.
Here is an elevated planter that is great for a small vegetable garden. If you have a number of small vegetable plants, and are growing for personal use, this is ideal, as it is mobile, simple and the height makes it easier to manage. Source: Zillow Digs™
Here is a nice vegetable garden with thin and manageable strips of planting area separated by wood chips. Wood chips make great footpaths between planting areas. They keep a rustic and national appeal to your garden.
Here is a pretty and well designed garden area. The white raised garden boxes match well with the rest of the yard’s design. A vegetable garden does not need to stand out from the rest of your yard. There are plenty of ways to make them blend with your designs.
This is an expansive vegetable garden, in a large yard. If you have the space, there is no need to get fancy with raised garden beds, greenhouses, or paths. If you can manage with a simple plot of dirt and the seeds, then that is all you really need for a successful and beneficial vegetable garden.
Here is a small plot off of the path that was converted into a fantastic small vegetable garden. There is no need to have a massive space to grow a few veggies. You can make do with even a small patch. With a bit of soil and proper planning it can be a stunning vegetable garden in no time.
This garden area is fenced in, and it even has its own little table and chairs. The seating and secluded nature of the area, this vegetable garden is transformed into a sanctuary for the lucky green thumb to escape to. Source: Zillow Digs™
Here is a single box with a variable mix of vegetables, organized by dividers. When you are growing vegetables for a small group, do may not need to have many plants to get the vegetables you need. One or two of each plant may be able to yield what you want.
This vegetable garden has raised garden beds at different levels. The multiple levels of this garden allows for a great deal of organization, as well as a fantastic visual appeal. Source: Zillow Digs™
Hanging planters from railings is a way to have a small personal garden in an urban area. In the picture above, there is a lovely small vegetable and flower garden hanging above the city. It is not impossible to grow your own produce, even if it seems like you have no space. There are always creative ways.
This vegetable garden is arranged into a number of long and rustic raised garden beds. By being longer and thinner, rather than wider, this garden bed allows access to more sides of the crops.
Here is a simple and clever solution for growing small vegetable plants. A hanging garden like this is perfect for those with less space in the yard for raised garden beds, and greenhouses. Source: Zillow Digs™
A greenhouse is a great tool in a vegetable garden if you have the room for one. These can extend your growing season, and keep your crops safe from pests and insects.