How to Start a Vegetable Garden

How to Start a Vegetable Garden
By Katie Stagliano, age 11

Starting a vegetable garden can be great fun and full of surprise such as the 40 pound cabbage that I grew that changed my life! I am 11 years old and I have several vegetable gardens that I started after I grew my forty pound cabbage. What makes my vegetable gardens a little bit different is that I donate everything I harvest from my gardens to soup kitchens to help feed people in need.
If you want to start a vegetable garden for your family to enjoy or if you too want to plant a garden to feed families who need help putting food on their table, getting started is easier than you think. First, decide what type of garden you would like. You can choose from a few plants in pots, a raise bed garden or a garden planted directly in the ground. Selecting which one can depend on how much space you have. If you live in an apartment or have a small yard, plants in a pot maybe your best choice. If you have a large yard, a raised bed garden or in the ground garden is a great choice, you can even reuse an old sandbox and turn it into a raised bed garden. Keep in mind plants need sunlight to grow, so plan your garden in a sunny spot.
Your next step after selecting where you will have your garden is making sure you have good soil. When planting in pots, purchasing potting soil in bags is a good choice. For a raised bed garden made in an old sandbox (make sure it doesn’t have a bottom) you can also fill it in with bags of potting mix. If you want to plant your garden in the ground remove all of the grass and rocks before you start. Tilling or breaking up the soil will help when you are putting the plants in the ground.
What is the next step? Planning what you would like to grow! There are so many choices. You can pick your favorite vegetable to grow or try something new like okra. I prefer to plant with seedlings, a young plant.   You can buy seedlings at Wal-Mart, Home Depot or Lowes and if you are in the 3rd grade you can get a free cabbage seedling through the Bonnie Plants 3rd Grade Cabbage Program by asking your teacher to sign up at http://www.bonnieplants.com/CabbageProgram/tabid/81/Default.aspx.   Bonnie plants use peat pot that make planting fun and easy with less waste. The tag that comes with the plants is very helpful. It teaches you how to plant and when to harvest. Dig a hole for your plant be sure to make it larger than the plant. Gently place your plant in the hole, fill in dirt around it and be sure to water it often enough, but don’t flood it. Also, if your plants don’t look quite right, try fertilizing them. Fertilizer is a great way to help your plants thrive.
It's important to plant your garden at the right time, and the key is knowing when your area will see its last spring frost. You may lose your warm weather crops if you put them in the ground too soon. You can check the Old Farmer’s Almanac freeze chart by clicking here- http://www.almanac.com/content/frost-chart-united-states#chart.
The next part is amazing! Water, fertilize, keep the weeds away and watch your plant grow. Before you know it you will have vegetables to pick. You will be amazed at how delicious the vegetables you grow are. It’s that simple! And fun!
To learn more about what I do, go to www.katieskrops.com.