Skip to main content

HappySprout may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

How to plant the ultimate fruit and vegetable garden

Having fresh fruits and vegetables for meals and snacks is a great way to inject your diet with extra nutrients and add a little flair of color to your meals. Grocery stores, however, don’t always have exactly what you want; or, if they do, it may be more expensive if it’s out of season or not grown locally. So, what are you to do? Grow it yourself! Gardening for food doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated, and practically anyone can do it. Here’s your simple guide to the ultimate fruit and vegetable garden!

A person in a blue shirt holding a brown basket full of assorted vegetables, including carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and lettuce

Choosing your fruits and vegetables

The exact fruits and vegetables you choose will depend on your climate and personal taste, but there are a few things to keep an eye out for. Try to choose a wide range of fruits and vegetables, and plant a few of each. Look for plants with similar, but not exactly the same, harvest times. If all your plants are ready for harvest at the same time, you may have difficulty getting it all in on time, resulting in some fruits or vegetables going to waste.

Look for plants with compatible needs. If all your plants have exactly the same needs, it can place a higher demand on resources. For example, if all your plants need a lot of calcium, the calcium in your soil will be depleted faster. Instead, your plants should have varied needs and benefits. For example, pairing a plant that needs extra nitrogen with a nitrogen fixing plant, or a tall, sun-loving plant with a smaller, shade-loving plant underneath.

Some of the easiest fruits and vegetables to grow are tomatoes, strawberries, zucchini, cucumbers, pumpkins, and leafy greens like lettuce, cabbage, and spinach. Starting with these makes for a great baseline, and you can add any other fruit or veggie that you find particularly delicious to the mix.

Vegetable garden consisting of two regular garden beds and several hanging baskets, suspended on chains.

Arranging and planting

There are a few things to consider when arranging your ultimate garden. Plant needs are one. Make sure the plants that need the most sun are in the sunniest areas of the gardens and the ones that prefer shade are provided some shelter. Consider planting sun-loving, vining plants — such as pumpkins, cucumbers, or squash — on an A-frame trellis with shade-loving plants underneath.

Another thing to consider is pest control. If you live in an area that’s frequented by rabbits or deer, plant deer-resistant vegetables at the edges of the garden with the plants they find tastiest in the center. Although this won’t stop every pest, and you may still need to put up a fence or deer scare, it can help dissuade them and reduce your problems.

Caring for your garden

Be sure to water your garden in the morning before it gets hot. Wet leaves often burn, and you want to give the water time to absorb into the soil before evaporating in the sunlight. Watering in the afternoon or evening may be OK during warmer seasons, although it isn’t ideal, but avoid it altogether during cooler stretches. Many types of bacteria and fungi thrive in wet, dark climates, so watering just before dark can encourage infections.

Keep a careful eye out for any signs of disease, and act quickly at the first signs of infection. Although some diseases only affect a limited range of plants, some diseases can spread throughout your garden. Treatments can range from applying fungicide, increasing a particular nutrient in the soil, or removing the infected plant or part of the plant.

A woman in a pink shirt and black and white checkered shorts squats while harvesting tomatoes. Next to her on the ground is a basket of harvested vegetables, including eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots.

What to do at harvest time

When it comes time to harvest, it’s best to do it as the fruits and vegetables ripen rather than wait for a lot of them to be ready for harvest. Harvesting a little at a time as they ripen reduces waste, as fewer fruits and vegetables are left to rot on the vine, and you can eat or preserve them as they come, rather than having to deal with many at once. It can also lead to an increased harvest, as some plants will produce additional fruits after the existing ones have been harvested.

It’s also best to harvest in the morning, around the same time you would be watering your garden, and for similar reasons. It protects you, the gardener, from heat stroke, but also keeps your nice, ripe fruits and veggies from drying or wilting in the sun before you can pick them.

There you have it, the simple guide to planting the ultimate fruit and vegetable garden. You now know the tips and tricks to planting, caring for, and harvesting your garden. Remember to choose compatible plants, plant them strategically, and water and harvest in the morning. What your ultimate garden looks like and what flavors it provides are up to you, so enjoy your fresh garden feast!

Editors' Recommendations

Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
Your complete guide to planting and growing beautiful irises this summer
Everything you need to know about selecting and maintaining irises
Purple iris flowers

Irises are vibrant summer flowers that gardeners love for their perennial nature and rich colors. In addition to brightening up borders from spring to midsummer, they're incredibly hardy and can thrive even when you inadvertently neglect them. That said, understanding how to grow them will ensure the most prolific blooms, so that's why we've compiled this handy iris care guide for your reference.
What are irises?
Typically hardy in climate zones 3 to 9, irises belong to a diverse flowering plant genus with 200 to 300 species. The sword-like leaves come in fanned arrangements, and the stems can grow up to anywhere from 1 to 4 feet tall. The showy, lightly fragrant flowers come in everything from solid to bicolor varieties in every hue imaginable, although most traditional colors are blues and purples.

If you're shopping around for irises, common options include bearded irises, Siberian irises, and crested irises.

Read more
How to plant garlic: A versatile vegetable with a ton of uses
A guide to planting garlic and using it in many different ways
Three garlic bulbs with some garlic cloves next to them

Garlic, with its distinctive flavor and aroma, is a versatile vegetable that adds depth and complexity to a wide range of delicious meals. But did you know that garlic is not only a culinary delight but also offers numerous health benefits and has various household uses? Let's explore how to plant garlic, the many culinary and health benefits it offers, as well as its household and medicinal uses.
How to plant garlic to ensure a plentiful harvest
Before you can use and enjoy those flavorful bulbs, you need to first understand how to properly plant them. Follow these steps to ensure a successful garlic harvest!
Selecting the right garlic variety
When it comes to choosing the right garlic variety, you have several options to consider:

For example, softneck garlic varieties, such as "Silverskin" and "Artichoke," are commonly found in grocery stores and have a milder flavor. Hardneck garlic varieties, on the other hand, including "Rocambole" and "Porcelain," offer a stronger taste and are better suited for colder climates.

Read more
Stargazer lilies are excellent warm-weather flowers – how to grow them for stunning blooms all summer long
Indoor and outdoor care for stargazer lilies
A cluster of stargazer lily flowers

Of the many popular flowers found in summer flower gardens, lilies are perhaps one of the most versatile. There is a range of colors, patterns, and even shapes available, so you're sure to find a lily that fits your garden. One popular lily variety is the stargazer lily, which has large, striking flowers. The petals of its blooms are pink with white edges and darker pink spots along the center of the petals. These stunning flowers are excellent centerpieces in summer gardens as well as indoor spaces. Here’s how to grow your own.
Indoor care
Stargazer lilies, like other lily varieties, can grow indoors with proper care. Indoor care for stargazer lilies begins with choosing the correct container. It needs to be deep and have sufficient drainage holes. Avoid shallow pots or those without drainage holes, such as ceramic pots. Likewise, you must use well-draining soil to avoid overwatering. Stargazer lilies enjoy moist soil, but they don’t tolerate standing water. Soil that is rich in organic matter is ideal.

Place your stargazer lily in your sunniest window, or where it can get light from a grow light if you don’t have access to a good window. Water your stargazer lily one to two times per week so the soil stays moist but not soggy. In the spring, freshen up the soil with a slow-release fertilizer to keep your lily healthy and blooming.

Read more