Teach Me To (series)

Teach Me To Grow An Idiot-Proof Vegetable Garden

idiot-proof vegetable garden

So you want to grow an idiot-proof vegetable garden? Smart girl! Nothing is healthier than pesticide-free produce. Nothing tastes better than flavor-filled home-grown veggies. And nothing saves money like growing it yourself.

But nothing is more frustrating than watching your efforts and investment get eaten up by inexperience. Trust me on that. Here’s what you need to know.

Grow an idiot-proof vegetable garden

1) Don’t mess with seeds. Unless you have the optimum set-up for growing plants from seed indoors and are still willing to endure the possible heartbreak of seeing them damp off and die, just buy baby plants from professionals.

Pick a good spot. For starters, a good spot is not in a pot even if the Pope tells you it is. Click To Tweet

2) Pick a good spot. For starters, a good spot is not in a pot even if the Pope tells you it is. Vegetables need lots of water, consistently. If you leave potted tomatoes on your patio while you take a summer vacation, you’ll come home to be greeted by blossom rot on once-promising fruits. And you’ll cry. Also, a good spot gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight and is not on located on a highway for deer. If it is, you need TALL fencing. Preferably electrified.

3) Speaking of critters, you know rabbits will see your garden as their Golden Corral buffet, right? You can choose to use organic sprays (ie. cayenne pepper and coyote urine), but you’ll be spraying every 2-3 days and ain’t nobody got time for that. A 2-foot tall chicken wire fence will keep them from jumping over it. And they can’t burrow under if there’s an extra 6” buried below ground level.

4) Know what to plant, when to plant, how much to plant, and where to plant it in relation to your other plants. And here’s the beauty part of this post and what will make your garden especially idiot-proof: There’s an app for that!

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a garden planner with amazing features.

  • It draws out the size and shape of your garden.
  • You choose from 250 vegetables, herbs, and fruits with detailed growing information for each plant.
  • As you add plants, color-coded areas indicate the space they require.
  • It calculates how many plants will fit in each area and shows which plants grow well together.
  • It adapts to your growing zone and creates a personalized planting/harvesting chart.
  • Its software includes familiar features like undo, copy, and paste.
  • And it has built-in tutorial videos.

The Garden Planner doesn’t cost anything for 7-days and you don’t have to give any credit card info up front. But it’s $29 if you want to keep it as an annual subscription after that. Now, seven days is long enough to plan this year’s garden. However, the benefit of keeping it is that it will save your plan, send you e-mail reminders of what you need to plant to keep your garden producing into Fall, and suggest crop rotation plans for next year. And there actually is a phone app available.

Once you’ve addressed items 1-3 above, this is the tool that flattens the learning curve of #4. I feel like I should say, because I’m positively gushing about this, that this is NOT a sponsored post. They’re not paying me to write a review. I just know if I had this tool when I was a beginner gardener, it would have saved me a lot of tears!

The only other thing you’ll need, should disaster strike, is a good reference for diagnosing and organically treating problems related to pests and disease.  And, if by the sovereign hand of God, a summer tornado or hail storm wipes out the whole kit and kaboodle, this will provide a bit of consolation.  ?

grow an idiot-proof vegetable garden

  • Awesome advice! I made sure to pin this so I can come back to it when I start my garden this spring! 🙂

    Sincerely Miss J

    • Wife Sense

      Jackline – I cannot WAIT to get my hands in the dirt!

  • Allison Lancaster

    This is great advice! We love growing a garden!

    • Wife Sense

      Me too. And I love EATING from my garden – especially the tomatoes. Nothing tastes so good!

  • I so needed this today! Last year’s garden didn’t turn out so well and I am getting ready to try again. I had no idea about the Almanac’s resources! Thanks for sharing!

    • Wife Sense

      I feel your pain over last year, Lecy. We just moved into a new house and I was limited to using pots – which is the worst! Can’t wait to have a real plot this year. Good luck with yours!

  • Robert Stukowski

    My family used to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and water melons. We couldn’t do much more than that in our small backyard. I stopped doing it when my parents died. Unfortunately, I no longer have the time to take care of a garden. Still would love to have one though. Either way, good luck on yours.

    • Wife Sense

      Thanks, Robert. Maybe you could try one tomato plant. You’d thank me when you’re eating your first BLT. 😉

  • I’m so glad I found this post today! My Mom just mentioned that she wanted to try planting a vegetable garden in her back yard where some neglected flower beds have long ago gone to weeds. She has no idea where to start, so I will be very happy to pass along this very informative post.

    • Wife Sense

      Timing is everything, isn’t it? Thanks, Cait, for passing along to your mom. What a good daughter!

  • Berniedette PetiteAndToned

    Hmm, I wonder if this Garden Planner can offer advice for the apartment “garden” in my balcony, which is nonexistent. I previously tried to plant flowers in a little wood planter box. No wonder it didn’t work. The box was essentially a pot! I noticed the weeds quickly outgrew the box. Gahhh! Perhaps this summer, I can try something new!


    Berniedette | PetiteAndToned.com

    • Wife Sense

      If I grow one thing, it’s a tomato plant. My taste buds are patting me on the back just for writing that.

  • Berniedette PetiteAndToned

    Oh and P.S.

    I’m glad I can make you laugh <3

  • I love this post! My husband and I just bought our first home and I truly want to start a garden, but have never had one, which makes me a little nervous. This is so helpful!

    • Wife Sense

      How exciting! Congrats on your first home – a big milestone for a couple. Best wishes for a happy life inside and a successful garden outside.

  • I hope this works! I live in an apartment, but I have a little yard and was thinking of growing something this year 🙂

    • Wife Sense

      It’ll work! Go for it.

  • I’ve been meaning to grow fresh veggies ever since I moved into my house last year – I think I’ll have to do it this year. I loved when my Nonna used to grow fresh tomatoes and they tasted so delicious!

    • Wife Sense

      Tomatos are the most delicious things you can grow. Your Nonna knew it, too! 😉

  • Neely

    We did a veggie garden last year and it was so fun! Cant wait to plant this year.

    • Wife Sense

      Me too, Neely. Can’t wait to get my hands dirty!

  • Crystal Marie

    I would love to have our own garden. How fun and useful!