Follow the old adage of “what goes together well in the kitchen, grows together well in the garden,” Vallin Kostovick says. For example, plants like lettuce and tomato grow well next to each other because as the tomatoes grow taller, they provide necessary shade for the lettuce.
Get the most out of every square foot and use more vertical or horizontal space to create a slender garden along a fence, wall, or other tighter area of your backyard. These types of gardens are suited for climbing plants like cucumbers, zucchini, and squash.
“Most veggies need full sun to grow happy,” Angelov says. If you’re new to the plant and vegetable world, know that some crops—tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, for instance—will grow easier than others.
According to Vallin Kostovick, some other beginner-friendly produce include beans, lettuce, peas, carrots, radish, herbs, summer squash, zucchini, and beets. Planting a garden with any of these vegetable plants can be a simple and stress-free way to start growing your own food.
Vallin Kostovick suggests growing a garden with a specific theme, and it’s one of our favorite gardening tips. To get you started on some potential options, consider these veggie garden ideas:
Plant things like lettuce, peas, carrots, radish, cucumbers, and bush cherry tomato.
Basil, oregano, thyme, sage, parsley, dill, and rosemary are all great choices for beginners, Vallin Kostovick says. Mint is another easy-to-grow herb, but it’s best to keep it in a separate container, like a window-sill box, since it can spread really easily.
Salsa fans can plant hot peppers, bush tomatoes, cilantro, and onions. You’ll be churning out jars of homegrown salsa in no time.
“Plant a sauce garden to take your pasta game to the next level,” Vallin Kostovick says. For a tasty sauce, grow a combination of bush tomatoes, basil, onions, and oregano.
Edible flowers like calendula, borage, violas, and nasturtium can be the perfect way to combine aesthetics with utility. Vallin Kostovick explains these plants can “add instant whimsy to anything from ice cubes to salads to baked goods.” Bonus: Flowering plants and herbs attract pollinators needed for a bountiful vegetable garden.
Companion planting is the idea that you grow garden plants next to each other that benefit one another in some way. Though there are plenty of combinations that could work, like non-competing radishes and carrots, consider picking your produce based on what will thrive together.
When you’re thinking about your garden design, don’t forget about alternative planting vessels. “I personally love using galvanized tubs,” Vallin Kostovick says. “Wooden crates and whiskey barrels are a great alternative as well.” She mentions you could even grow your vegetable crops in an old wheelbarrow or sink.
In general, look for larger pots or vessels since small ones will dry out quickly. You’ll want to make sure there is good drainage, and you have to consider the depth of the container depending on the type of veggie you’re growing. For example, root vegetables like carrots will need cavernous pots, usually 12 to 14 inches deep, but something like lettuce only needs 6 to 12 inches.
One of Vallin Kostovick’s favorite vessels, this farmhouse aesthetic backyard garden leans heavily on rustic roots.
If you don’t have a lot of space, but still want a home garden, consider a vertical design. This herb garden uses hanging planter bags to maximize space.