10 Tips for a Successful Vegetable Garden

Here are our 10 tips for a successful vegetable garden (en español). Growing your own food can be immensely satisfying. It’s also labor intensive and maddening if you don’t get it right.

Vegetable garden at AgriLife office - 10 Tips for a Successful Vegetable Garden

The vegetable garden at the Travis County AgriLife office

  1. Seek Local Advice
    • independently owned nurseries usually source locally too and are more in tune with what will grow well
    • AgriLife Extension is staffed with local experts and has access to research-based advice
  2. Find a Good Location
    • most vegetables require 6-8 hours of sunlight
    • select a location that is close and convenient to the kitchen
  3. Ensure Adequate Moisture and Drainage
    • locate garden near a source of water
    • build raised beds if soil quality is poor
    • use drip or soaker hoses, 1-1 ½ inches per week to deliver water where it’s needed
  4. Build Healthy Soil
    • ideal pH is 6.5 – 7.0
    • strive for 8-12” of loose, friable soil
    • perform a soil test, use fertilizer as indicated
    • incorporate compost or other organic matter
  5. Use Mulch
    • retains water, controls weeds, regulates soil temperature
    • use leaves, compost, dried grass clippings, alfalfa hay, finely shredded bark
  6. Plant the Right Plant at the Right Time
    • cool season/warm season (first frost=mid-November, last freeze=mid-March)
    • Swiss Chard - 10 successful vegetable gardening tips

      Swiss Chard at the Travis County AgriLife office demonstration garden

      use recommended varieties

  7. Monitor for Problems
    • inspect your plants regularly
  8. Control Pests and Disease
    • use resistant varieties – for tomatoes, look for the VPN designation (Verticillium wilt, Fusarium, and Nematode disease resistance)
    • practice proper sanitation and crop rotation
    • protect plants with floating row cover
    • get to know the beneficial insects
  9. Harvest at the Right Time
    • pick at proper maturity for peak flavor and quality
    • harvest frequently to encourage blooms
  10. Eat What You Grow!
    • fresh produce is packed with vitamins and antioxidants
    • learn how to preserve your harvest and enjoy home-grown food all year long
Veggie face made from Okra

Photo courtesy of Kerry Drake, Sunshine Community Gardens

More Vegetable Resources

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