Beginners Guide to Starting a Vegetable Garden

Growing your own vegetables is one of the most rewarding parts of gardening. Yet planning and creating a garden can be a daunting prospect for beginners. Here on A Life in the Forest of Dean we have discussed our vegetable garden in June. In this post we look at some top tips to help you start your own vegetable garden.

Start Small

When planning your first vegetable garden it is best to start small. Depending on how much free space you have will depend on what size your vegetable garden will be. Even if you have ample space, it is best to not be over ambitions. A 16×10 foot area is a good size for a beginner’s vegetable garden.

Choose the Ideal Spot

Choosing the right spot for your vegetable garden is very important. The first thing you should consider is the sun. Most vegetables require a ‘full sun’ to grow. This means that the plant needs a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight exposure. Don’t worry if part of the garden is in the shade, as some vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, do not need much direct sunlight.

The Right Soil

Soil for vegetable gardens must be well draining and loose. Martha Steward has a good tip to test how good at draining your current soil is. They recommend digging a hole about a foot deep and a foot across then filling it with water and timing how long it takes for the water to drain away. Two to three hours after the first drain you should repeat the process. When the water has drained a second time, calculate the rate of drainage by dividing the total depth (24 inches) by the number of hours it took for the hole to empty both times. The perfect soil is an average rate of one inch of water lost per hour.


Ensuring that your vegetable garden gets the right amount of water is very important. Overwatering can increase the chances of diseases while under watering will affect the growing potential of the vegetables. In the wetter autumn and winter months there should be enough rain most weeks to keep the vegetables watered. During the summer more attention has to be given to watering. To guarantee that your vegetable is getting enough water a timer can be attached to your hose. Screwfix in their list of garden hoses note that modern timers now come with settings that will help you save water and keep your plants healthy. For instance a rain delay setting will stop the sprinklers watering your plants on the same day it has rained.

The Vegetables

The best part of designing a vegetable garden is choosing which vegetables you will grow. Root vegetables are robust and can be planted in early spring to be harvested in autumn. The most popular vegetable to grow is the humble tomato. As long as they have plenty of sunlight and vines to support them they will grow without much aid. Some gardeners believe that tomatoes that have been watered less, taste better. One good tip to repel pests is to plant basil next to your tomatoes.