So I stuck with it…a hobby that I started only last year – building and growing my own vegetable garden. I’ve expanded my veggie growing skills outside of the wonderful garden box Colin built for me last year by adding six garden pots throughout the backyard. These pots are where I’m growing my pepper plants and chives. The garden box is reserved for cherry tomatoes, the crop I had the most success with last summer.

I’ve already shared a few of my key learnings about growing my own vegetables last year, but now that it’s my second year exploring this hobby, I’ve learned a few more things.

More Tips to Creating the Best Vegetable Garden

1. Don’t start too early.

With the warm spring weather we’ve been having this year, I got overeager early on, and found myself trying to pound through the ‘still frozen’ ground with my gardening shovel back in late March. This was definitely too early to even contemplate veggie growing, or even hosta splitting! We often have at least one last snow or ice storm in Ontario, sometime in April and this year didn’t disappoint. Our last snow fall came on April 21, unfortunately, after many of the spring flowers had sprouted. Some of them didn’t last long past this day.

I’ve heard and learned now firsthand, that after the May long weekend is the best time to start your annual gardening. Not only the is this the time when the stores offer the best and freshest plants, it’s also the ideal growing conditions here in Southern Ontario.

2. Pay attention to what soil you use.

Plants draw their nutrients from the soil they’re in, so it makes sense that the better the soil, the better your vegetables will taste. I was happy last year, with the results I got from Miracle Grow soil. However, I decided not to use it again this year, given the high levels of nitrogen it contains, (this is what helps the plants grow so big). This year, I’ve opted for PC Organic Vegetable Soil. It’s not cheap, it cost close to $10 per bag and we needed 6 bags to top up our garden and pots. I know it’s healthier to go with organic soil; I’m interested in seeing if it’s worth it from a taste and growth perspective.

3. Set yourself up for success with the best growing conditions.

Most vegetables grow best when they’re located in an area where they’ll receive at least half a day of sun. Before we placed our planter box in it’s official home, I knew that it would get a good amount of sun. Pots are a nice alternative, since they’re easy to move around.

When it comes to watering them, I was surprised to learn last year, that it’s almost better to underwater your veggies versus overwater them. Too much water drowns the roots and spoils the fruit. I try to water my plants in the morning, before the strong sun comes out. This helps prevent me from burning the leaves and to give the plants water towards the start of the day, when they most need it.

I love our raised planter bed.

To Sum it Up…Building Your Own Vegetable Garden

There are a ton of benefits to growing your own vegetables. I thoroughly enjoyed this hobby I started last year, so I’m doing it again this year. To build on my success from last summer, I didn’t start gardening too early. Right around now is the perfect time to plant you veggie gardens. I’m trying a healthier, organic soil this year to drive the nutrient content of my fresh produce, up further. I will continue to pay attention to how I care for my plants with regards to the sun and water they get daily.

I think vegetable growing is a hobby you can always get better at with experience, experimenting, and continuing to learn from the experts. What’s your favourite gardening tip?