How to Start a Veggie and Herb Garden

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, MS, DO on August 17, 2021
3 min read

Cultivating your own food can be fulfilling. A veggie and herb garden gives you the chance to pluck fresh produce from your home.

You don't need a multi-acre farm to grow herbs and veggies. There are plenty of crops you can grow indoors and in small spaces. But, where do you begin?

A vegetable garden has parameters for ideal veggie growth. Identifying the spaces you have available will be the first step in planning your gardens.

Veggies. It would be best to grow veggies outdoors. They have sunlight needs that being indoors can't meet. Certain vegetables can grow indoors, but you'll have to compensate for the lack of light and warmth they'd get outside.

Veggies need around 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day in an area that faces north or south. Depending on the veggie type, they can grow outdoors during the summer or winter. You can cultivate your veggies in a yard, a planter, or a simple plant pot.

Herbs. While many herbs thrive outdoors, you can also grow some herbs inside. Areas with all-day sunlight are ideal, but most herbs do well with a minimum of 6 hours of sun. 

Many herbs don't care for the winter months. So, when the weather gets chilly, you'll need to bring them indoors until the final frost.

Once you've evaluated your environment and the spaces you have available, you can start researching the veggies and herbs you can grow.

Cold-weather veggies. You can grow the following vegetables during the cold seasons:

  • Lettuce
  • Greens
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Onions

Each of these veggies has special needs concerning space, light, and water. Your local garden center can provide extra guidance on the suitable crops for your veggie garden.

Warm-weather veggies. Many vegetables thrive during warm seasons. These veggies include:

  • Beans
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Summer and winter squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Pumpkins

Herbs. Some of the easy and popular herbs to grow are:

  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Mint

You've chosen your space. You've chosen your crops. Now what?

Starting from seeds. If you're starting your garden from seeds, you should do this indoors. First, plant your seeds in containers or peat pots with a starting soil mixture.

Once your seeds have sprouted up and grown into seedlings, you can transplant them into their permanent home (such as outdoors, a planter, or plant pot). However, certain crops have sensitive roots, so exercise caution when transplanting your seedlings.

Starting from transplants or clippings. You can also purchase crops from local garden centers or take clippings from existing crops. Starting with transplants and clippings removes the uncertainty of cultivating seedlings.

Planting your veggies and herbs. Each veggie and herb will require a certain amount of space to grow. Once you've chosen your garden space, map out where each crop will go to ensure each one has an appropriate amount of space.

Soil. If you're planting your crops outside in your yard, you need to prepare your soil:

  • Till the dry soil until it's crumbly and breaks apart.
  • Remove debris such as rocks from your garden bed.
  • Mix in homemade compost, ground leaves, and other organic fertilizer to create sustainable soil.

Your seeds are sprouting. The veggies and herbs are well on their way. So what can you do to ensure a plentiful harvest in a few months?

Mulch your garden. Mulch can be straw, compost, or leaves placed around your crops (but not crowding the plants themselves). Mulch helps the soil hold in moisture and maintain its temperature in your garden.

Weed your garden. Mulch will help prevent weed growth. Getting rid of any weeds in your garden will ensure your crops get all the nutrients from the soil.

Water as needed. Depending on your area, your watering habits will change. The key is to maintain moist soil.

Rainy locations will provide your garden soil with plenty of moisture. Dry areas will get rid of the soil's moisture and require more intervention.

Maintain a calendar. Veggies and herbs are susceptible to weather. Be mindful of when you plant your garden so that they grow before the weather changes. You can even rotate seasonal crops, so you have a garden sprouting all year long.