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Five Tips to Planting a Vegetable Garden

Happy Earth Day! I cannot believe we are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. Of course, every day should be earth day and today I am sharing five tips for planting a vegetable garden.

Raised Vegetable Beds

I live in Southern California and I was planting seeds and plants while most of you still had snow on the ground. Now that almost all of you are enjoying the spring weather, it’s not too late to plant a garden. Even if you just plant herbs and tomatoes you will enjoy your harvest all summer long!

how to grow lettuce in vegetable beds

Five Tips to Planting a Vegetable Garden

My Vegetable Garden

Get Plenty of Sun

The first step is finding the right location. Most vegetables need an average of six hours a day of sunlight. Most herbs need four hours of sunlight. You can plant vegetables in an existing garden bed, in pots, or in raised beds, which is what I have done. I love my raised beds as I can control the soil quality and they are a great addition to a very unsightly part of our yard!

I built these vegetable beds with my handyman. You can find all of the instructions to build raised beds in one of my earlier blog posts here.

Hot to Build Raised Vegetable Beds

Prepare Your Garden and Use Good Soil

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love the raised vegetable beds we built in our back yard. Each spring I remove the old plants, amend the soil, and plant a new variety of vegetables. I have four beds and at least one and a half of them are for tomatoes. I have read different options on whether or not you should rotate your vegetables in different areas year after year. I do know if there is any sign of tomato rot, then you should move your tomato plants from one bed to another each year. But tomatoes prefer to grow in the same place every year, so plant in the same spot unless you have had a disease problem.

how to build raised vegetable beds

When I first built our vegetable beds, I layered the beds with ground cloth, rocks, potting soil, and amendments. I had special vegetable garden soil delivered and it’s the smartest thing I ever did. Each spring I add a soil enhancement called Amend (that I purchased at Home Depot). I usually mix in about four new inches of the soil enhancement in each bed. It’s tempting, but don’t take the easy route and just plant new plants. Take the time to replenish the soil with some nutrients. It will make all the difference, I promise!

Tomato Cages

Support Your Plants

I also made my own tomato cages. They were so easy to make and they have lasted for three years. They still look as good as they did the first year I made them although the wood has now turned grey so I think they look better! If you plant tomatoes (which I highly suggest you should do) then be sure to surround them with wire or wood cages as soon as you plant them. You need to have cages for successful tomato growing.

I like starting my garden with small plants. Last year I bought everything at an organic nursery and my crop was so-so. This year I bought all of my starter plants at Home Depot and they look fabulous. Go figure. 

growing tomato plants

Grow What You Like

Just be sure to grow herbs and vegetables that you like and will use. My motto is, if you don’t like it, don’t grow it.

I have been growing tomato plants for many years. A homegrown tomato cannot be replicated and always tastes better than one you can buy at any grocery store. Nothing is better than growing your own tomatoes. I love heading out to the garden every day in the summer to pick tomatoes for my meal prep. A plentiful tomato crop is very easy to grow. 

Companion planting can help tomatoes grow. Tomatoes are compatible with basil, chives, onion, parsley, marigold, nasturtium, and carrots. I also suggest you put the tomato cages in the beds (or garden) before you plant your tomatoes. It is easier to space out the cages first and then plant your tomato plants. Then I place basil plants between the tomato plants.

Raised Vegetable Beds

Take Care and Nurture Your Plants as They Grow

Vegetable gardens need attention. I always add enhancements even before I plant my tomato plants.  You can add a small handful of Epsom salts, crushed eggshells, and potting soil into the hole before you plant the tomato.

Yes, I did say eggshells.  Using eggshells will add extra nutrients to your tomato plants and deter slugs. As the eggshells break down, calcium is released freely into the soil. The calcium helps your tomato plants grow and prevents blossom end rot.

You should use crushed eggshells, Epsom salts, and potting soil.  After I dig my deep hole, I dump in a handful of eggshells, a handful of Epsom salts, and a cupful (it’s not an exact measurement!) of potting soil.

I have also used Fish Emulsion to fertilize my plants. It doesn’t smell great but my plants sure to love it. Tomatoes also do well with a good deep watering followed by days of no water at all. This encourages the roots to work even more deeply into the soil, seeking out moisture. 

You also might want to prune the suckers on your tomato plants. Tomato suckers are the growths that appear in the junction between the stem and a branch of a tomato plant. When left to grow, tomato plant suckers will become another main stem with branches, flowers, fruit, and even more suckers of their own. Pruning tomato suckers is often recommended because the resulting new stem is competing for nutrients with the original plant. Your plant may have more fruit if you let the suckers grow, but the tomatoes will be smaller and the plant will be more cumbersome, requiring a lot of effort to stake as the summer progresses. Pruning tomato suckers helps your plants to be more manageable and more robust at the same time.

Here is everything you might need to plant a vegetable garden. Enjoy! This is such a fun hobby and you will get so much joy from your vegetables.

Pin the image below to your Gardening or Vegetable Garden boards on Pinterest (just click the Pin button in the top left corner). You can also follow along with me on Pinterest!

My Favorite Gardening Finds


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Welcome to My 100 Year Old Home. I started my blog so I could share my passion for entertaining, décor, cooking, and crafts. You will find all this and more right here. Read more…

9 Responses

  1. I love the look and feel of your new site Leslie! I have been following you for about a year now and I really enjoy all of your blogs and IG posts. You give me a lot of creative motivation! I have been thinking of starting a blog, but have been nervous about getting started. I read – and bookmarked – the article you did last year on this subject. It was full of so much information! Can I ask who you used to set up your new blog page? Is it user friendly for you to add the pictures and articles? I am thinking, in this time of staying home, it would be a good time to get motivated about this and take the plunge!

  2. We finally took the plunge and made redwood raised planter beds this year using all your advice!!! We are so excited to see what will happen. By any chance do you have plans for your tomato supports. Would love to copy them. Thank you for all your creative posts. Such an encouragement!!!

  3. My husband and I were talking about beginning to grow our own vegetables and herbs and reading this is so encouraging. I’m looking forward to it. Thank you so much for the info, Leslie, I love it!

  4. Thanks for all the information on gardening. I’m going to give it a try one day. I plant in small pots now but hope to build boxes like yours.

  5. How much Epsom salts do you put in each plant, please?! I always save our many eggshells to use after they’re rinsed, dried and crushed! We will need to use containers with new soil, so I also wonder what type of soil you used and what you recommend as a liner to protect the base (if it is elevated)? Thanks for such useful information, Leslie!

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I'm Leslie,
Welcome to My 100 Year Old Home

I started my blog so I could share my passion for entertaining, décor, cooking, and crafts. You will find all this and more right here.

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