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Tips for Growing Your Own Food with Gardening

Updated on July 8, 2010

I have been gardening for eleven years.  I grew up around family that grew almost all their own food, but yet they didn't pass on their knowledge to me.  They did it, but they didn't teach me anything about it and didn't require me to do much in the garden.  Oh, how I wish someone had taught me some of the things I know now.  So I thought I would give some tips to the beginning gardener who wants to start growing their own food. 

The first thing you want to do is pick a site that will get adequate sunlight.  Watch various parts of your yard throughout the year and throughout the day.  An area that gets full sun in the winter might be shaded in the summer.  Typically a garden needs 6-8 hours of sunlight each day in order to grow vegetables.  Some plants require more than that and some like it cool so will accept a little less.  My garden barely gets the six hours each day, so I don't grow sun loving veggies like corn, melons, or okra.  Lettuce and peas, however, thrive in the cool afternoons. 

The second most important thing is the soil.  Vegetables will not grow in bad soil.  Our soil is clay and filled with tree roots, so we opted for a raised bed garden.  This meant we had to buy all new soil when we filled our beds.  If you do an in ground garden you need to amend the soil with lots of compost for nutrients and peat moss to help the soil retain moisture.  You can get the soil ph tested to help you determine what you need to add in order to grow the veggies you choose.

Third, choosing where to plant the vegetables will make a difference.  I messed up my garden this year by putting stuff in bad places.  I had a whole bed of cucumbers, but not all the plants survived.  I filled in with pepper plants, forgetting how big cucumber plants can get.  The cucumbers have completely taken over my pepper plants, not only attaching themselves to the pepper plants, but also making the peppers more shaded than they should be.  Make sure you think about how big plants will get by the end of the summer when considering where to plant.   Also, some plants don't like other plants.  There is a whole book that will help you figure out what should and shouldn't be next to each other or follow each other from year to year called Carrots Love Tomatoes.  I highly recommend it.

Four, make sure you water regularly.  I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday who said it was too hot here to go outside and water her garden and she hadn't watered it in a week.  It has been in the 90's here all week.  Needless to say her garden isn't looking too good.  Water it consistently.  If it doesn't rain it should get water every day.  Stick your finger in the soil next to a plant.  If the top couple of inches of soil are moist, then you are fine.  If the dirt is dry and crumbly your garden definitely needs water. 

Five, keep the weeds down.  Weeds will sap the nutrients right out of the soil and also prevent the plants from getting the water it needs.  The roots of the weeds are competing with the roots of your vegetable plants, so pull them as soon as you see them.  The smaller they are the easier they are to pull. 

Six, mulch your garden.  Mulching your garden with grass clippings, wood shavings, or newspaper will not only provide added nutrients to the soil, but will also keep moisture in and prevent weeds from growing.  This makes growing vegetables so much easier.

If only I had known all this when I started gardening, I would have been much more successful in the early years.  I hope these tips help you have a great garden this year.


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    • katrinasui profile image


      8 years ago

      Jenifer, Great hub! I love gardening. I will try to follow your suggestions.

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 

      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Very, very helpful to me, Jennifer. Thank you very much.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      8 years ago

      I love the tips.My aunt had a garden on old farm land.So she use to have so many tomatoes she would let them rot on the vine.It drove me crazy.I told her to let us know,she hardly ever did.My mom use to grow a garden every year.Just a few plants.Not a lot of space.The neighbor started growing a flower bed that was so close it would climb the fence they shared and the plants can't get any sunlight.So I really appreciate the garden so much.Last year we had too too much rain.Without the sunlight the plants started to rot on the plant from under the leaves.I found out like you little at a time.My parents never explained what they did.

    • Louis Taylor profile image

      Louis Taylor 

      8 years ago from UK

      Yeah, sometimes you have to help a little for the plants to grow up on the trellis. Carrots love tomatoes never heard of that. Any chance you can share where to get that book please, the link is not working!? Thanks.

    • Provident Mommy profile image

      Provident Mommy 

      8 years ago

      Great hub! The last few years we have been "trying" to garden. Lots of lessons learned. Hopefully next year our garden will actually grow! Thanks for the info.

    • Jennifer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Teddletonmr - I have a trellis rigged up, but it isn't a great one and the cukes are not all wanting to go up the trellis. I need a more stable trellis for such a huge plant. Thanks!

    • Woody Marx profile image

      Woody Marx 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I would do this for sure if I had a back yard or, like those people in NYC who have roof-top gardens. I may try some indoor plants...tomatoes on the vine could be possible I suppose in the kitchen. Thanks for info.

    • urs_dipak profile image


      8 years ago from Kolkata, West Bengal, India

      Nice hub

    • Teddletonmr profile image

      Mike Teddleton 

      8 years ago from Midwest USA

      Jennifer, I enjoyed reading your hub, thanks for sharing. Have you considered growing your cucumbers on a trellis? I have use one for years, it works better than you would think. Happy gardening and make it a great day to be frugal.

    • How to - Answers profile image

      L M Reid 

      8 years ago from Ireland

      Great advice here thanks. I love to grow my own vegetables they always taste so much better that when bought in the shops. And watching and taking care of a seed that grows into a healty plant that can then be eaten is a wonderful pastime and activity.

    • lilfaerie profile image


      8 years ago from Hemet, CA

      What a wonderful garden and great advice! Thanks for this hub. :)

    • GojiJuiceGoodness profile image


      8 years ago from Roanoke, Virginia

      Good info you've got here. We've got a garden this year, but it just takes hours to water. Thus, we haven't been watering it enough & it's been suffering. Although it rained last night so I'm excited! :)

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Wonderful tips and advice. Makes me want to go out and start a garden.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      8 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Jennifer, You brought back memories of my grandparents. They had gardens to provide food. It is becoming a "buggy whip." Our lifestyles have crowded out the enjoyment of the process of using our "green thumbs."

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Thsnk you for your wonderful hub. I love gardening.

    • bayoulady profile image


      8 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      Ahhhh,you are making me want a big ole garden! Great hub!

      I used to love to garden. Strangely, I now live a stone's throw from a bayou, but the soil is poor. We think it may have something to do with the crop dusters spraying poison.(LA has more incidences of cancer than any state..hummm.)

      The only plants that thrive in my yard are cucumbers,squash,bell peppers, and green onions.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi, I was born in the country side and had always loved planting. I started gardening and planting vegetables at a very young age of 8. Now that I am getting old, I miss the life that I have left for many years. Hope to get back to planting when I reach senior age.

      Very refreshing article. Good work.

    • LivingFood profile image


      8 years ago

      Sunlight is very important...I know someone who's yard is surrounded by trees, and the garden never does very well. Great tips, and nice garden!


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