Growing a successful garden this summer starts with a few simple tips: don't plant too much, make sure water is available, and get plenty of sunlight. Not sure how much to plant? Check out the Vegetable Garden Planting Guide.

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Planting a Garden

What you want to do is to make sure that you don’t have too much. That’s the mistake most people make. They try to put in too large of a garden. Normal back yard gardens for homeowners are usually somewhere between one hundred and one thousand square feet. So, if you’re just getting started, it would be better to be a lot closer to those hundred square feet than it is to one thousand. There are other things you need to keep in mind as well. One of those is – you’re probably going to need irrigation water. And therefore, if you’re close to water, it makes it a lot easier to take care of that vegetable garden. The other thing, if it’s close to the house, it makes it more convenient for you to go out and check those plants. And the more you check them, the more likely you are to catch problems when they’re little problems, rather than waiting until they’re big problems.

Sunlight is probably the most important. You need at least six to eight hours of sunlight if you’re raising fruiting crops – plants such as peppers and tomatoes. If you’re going to be raising leafy crops, you may not need quite as much. The other thing to keep in mind is the quality of the soil. Then, make sure you choose the best soil for your vegetable garden.

The main thing is to grow things that you like-- that you know you’re going to eat. Not just what looks good in a catalog. Be realistic on how may to put in. For example, if you’re putting in tomato plants for fresh use, and you’re not going to be doing any canning, then three plants per person is going to be plenty. If you’re not sure how much to plant, we do have a publication that gives you a good idea of how much to plant for each different species of vegetable. This will not only tell you how much to plant per person, but also the average expected yield per foot of row. So, it’s a good publication to get you started on what you need to put in.

This feature story prepared with Ward Upham, Kansas State University Research and Extension Research Assistant. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at

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