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How to Grow A Vegetable Garden For Healthy Recipes

Rising grocery prices, tainted food, and pesticides can make a trip to your supermarket's produce department unsettling.

The solution? Learn how to grow your own vegetable garden. For the price of a few seeds or seedlings and some time and effort on your part, you can grow vegetables that are tasty, safe, economical, nutritious, and fresher than you'll ever get at a grocery store. After all, there's nothing like a home-grown tomato.

Whether you have the room and time for a large garden landscape or simply a corner of your yard or patio for a few planters for container gardening, you can reduce your grocery bill and increase your family's nutrition by growing your own fruits and vegetables.

How to Start Growing a Garden

Decide where your garden will go and then get a soil test through your local extension office. You're going to invest time, work, and money in your garden, so you might as well make sure that your soil is fertile. This simple, inexpensive test can determine that.

What Types of Vegetables Should I Grow?

Simply put, plant the vegetables that your family likes.

If your family eats a lot of salad, then plant lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, and, of course, tomatoes. Or research salad recipes to get ideas about what types of lettuce or other greens you want to experiment with.

Think about meals. Do you stir-fry or use many Asian recipes? Grow bell peppers, onions, peas, and broccoli. Do you enjoy Mexican recipes? Consider various hot peppers. Do you create main dishes from vegetables? Potatoes, squash, eggplant, and spinach might be options.

In planning your garden vegetables, consider adding a variety or two that your household considers tolerable, but not great.

You may find that homegrown freshness increases the taste, and that vegetable just may turn out to be a family favorite.

Plant an unfamiliar vegetable or two, just for kicks. If it's not to your taste, give the harvest to neighbors or your local food bank.

How Large Should my Garden Be?

If you are new to gardening, your garden should only measure about 10x18 feet, which easily will feed a family of four to six. This is just a guideline, however. Adjust your garden spot to fit your family size, available space, amount of time you can spend in it, and the amount of gardening work you're willing to do.

Keep in mind that if your garden is too large, gardening chores can easily overwhelm you and become discouraging. Keep your garden size manageable. You'll be amazed at your success — and the good food you put on your table.

By Out Here editor Carol Davis. She is a master gardener who is still learning.