Vegetables are fantastic when they come from your backyard! Not only do you control how they grow, save gas money, and get in a work out doing it, but you also get to decide when the vegetables are harvested, maximizing absolute freshness every time.
Start now for a wonderful variety of vegetables all season long.
1. Pick the best spot in your backyard that a) gets 8-10 hours of sun, b) can get 2"-4" inches of water every other day, c) has adequate drainage of soil.
2. Raise the bed...if possible. By using logs to raise the height of the garden bed, you can better control the soil content and drainage. Mix your soil with compost, manure, mulch, grass clippings, and a bit of sand (for clay soils only). You can also buy planting soil at your local garden center, but it can get pricey.
3. Use natural weed prevention: lay down a thick amount of newspaper over entire bed before you plant, (you can also use wet paper shavings). Cut a large enough hole in the newspaper to plant your seeds or seedlings. Cover the newspaper with 1"-2" of mulch, straw, or bark, avoiding the holes for the seeds or seedlings. To find free mulch, look for a mulch recycling center near you, or on recycling websites such as freecycle.org; locate one by going to recyclinggroupfinder.com.
4. Use natural insect repellant: plant marigold, chrysanthemums, and calendula around your vegetable bed. You can also use 42 oz of water with 1/2 dram of essential oil (found online at places like www.dustyroseperfumery.com or www.spiritways.net), such as lemon, melissa, mint, peppermint, citronella, eucalyptus, or tea tree to spray the mulch surrounding the plants once a week. I personally use 1 cap full of Melaleuca's Sol-U-Mel in a garden sprayer every 3-4 days to ward off bugs and fertilize the plants.
5. Plant a good mixture of vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, asparagus, carrots, radishes, beans, peas, lettuce, and cabbage. Look up specific growing instructions for each vegetable you grow, and make sure the plant variety's growing time gives you plenty of vegetables before the first frost.