Home Vegetable Gardening
Welcome Vegetable and Fruit Gardeners!
Are you a new or experienced Virginia vegetable gardener? Virginia Cooperative Extension can help. See our resource guide below and reach out to your local Extension Master Gardeners for answers to all your gardening questions and inforomation on upcoming gardening seminars in your area.
Are you new to gardening for the 2021 season? Looking for some tips? Check out our "Get Gardening!" series and follow the Extension Master Gardener page on Facebook or Twitter for regular gardening updates.
For help with soil testing, recommendations for vegetables that do well in your area, and any other gardening questions, please contact your local Extension office!
Resources for Vegetable and Fruit Gardening in Virginia
Start by choosing a location for your new garden bed, for help see: Planning the home vegetable garden
The next major decision is whether to use raised beds, and if you will, how should you make them? See: Container and raised bed gardening
For help deciding how much and what to plant see: Virginia’s home garden vegetable guide
For help mulching your new vegetable garden: mulches for the home vegetable garden
For help planning to water your garden: Irrigating the Home Garden
For starting your garden very early in the spring and growing late into the fall, see: Season Extenders
- Don’t buy too much! Use our Home vegetable garden planting guide to calculate how much you need to grow
- Though this publication is intended for commercial growers, you may find some of these useful: 2020-2021 Mid-Atlantic Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations
When you have planned your garden and selected an appropriate site and you’re ready to dig in and prepare your garden beds, consider the nutrient content of your soil, what kind of mulch you will use on your garden bed (yes, vegetable gardens can get mulch too!), and if you will choose to make your own compost for future gardens.
For soil preparation:
- Soil Preparation
- Building Healthy Soil
- Fertilizing the Vegetable Garden
- Guide to nutrient management
Staring at an expanse of lawn and wondering how to convert it to beds of vegetables or flowers is intimidating. Here are some tips from our friends in Maryland on removing grass to make way for garden beds.
If you need help starting your garden, please reach out to your local Extension Master Gardeners!
When you’ve prepared your beds, it’s time to plant your vegetables outdoors!
You can use our vegetable garden planting guide to determine what date to begin your plants depending on your USDA plant hardiness zone:
For a full guide to starting vegetables from seed, see: Plant Propagation from Seed
Did you know not all vegetables need to be transplanted? Many garden crops can be grown from seeds you plant directly in your garden. For more information on which plants to start indoors and which to plant directly in your garden, look at the * denoting transplants in our Home vegetable garden planting guide.
Transplants should be hardened off--or gradually acclimated to outdoor weather--before they are planted directly in the garden. For more information on hardening, see “Hardening” in Plant Propagation from Seed.
Herbs: Most herbs can be grown successfully with a minimum of effort. Several are drought-tolerant, some are perennials, and many are resistant to insects and diseases.For information on growing your own herbs:
If you don’t have space for a vegetable garden or if your present site is too small, consider raising fresh, nutritious, homegrown vegetables in containers. A window sill, patio, balcony, or doorstep can provide sufficient space for a productive container garden.
Looking to get the most out of a small yard or garden plot? Learn about methods like vertical gardening and which crops to plant in Intensive Gardening Methods.
If you are unable to figure out the source of your plant’s problem, reach out to your local Extension Master Gardeners for help. Many EMG units provide “help desks” or call-in hotlines and can help you determine what might be causing your plant’s problem and what you should do.
Some insects you are likely to encounter in your garden include:
Did you know that some insects are actually beneficial? In addition to pollinating certain crops, many beneficial insects will eat bad insects. If you’re interested in learning more about beneficial insects and how you can attract them to your garden, read Improving Pest Management and Pollination with Farmscaping.
Some diseases you are likely to encounter in your garden include:
Late Blight of Tomato and Potato (VCE publication)
We know that, to many people, the idea of “spraying” anything on their landscape is intimidating; however, when used properly insecticides, fungicides, and other “sprays” can have an important place in the home gardener’s toolbox. Here is some more information on pesticides:
Small fruits offer certain advantages over fruit trees for home culture because small fruits require less space for the amount of fruit produced, and they bear fruit one or two years after planting. Success with small-fruit planting will depend on the attention given to all phases of production, including crop and variety selection, site selection, soil management, fertilization, pruning, and pest management.
For information on growing your own small fruit, read Small fruits in the home garden.
For information on growing fruit trees, read Tree fruit in the home garden
- Winemaking for the home gardener
- Boiling water bath canning
- Freezing fruits and vegetables
- Using dehydration to preserve fruits, vegetables and meats
- Can it safely (printable one page canning guide)
- Safe handling and storing of raw fruits and vegetables
- Pressure canning
- National Center for Home Food Preservation
- National Center for Home Food Preservation Videos
- So Easy to Preserve (can order the recipe book and DVD set for demonstrations)
- Fresh Preserving
- Interested in learning more about home food perservation? Want to help other's learn? Check out the Extension Master Food Volunteer Program!
- Sprouting seeds for food
- Feeding Wild Birds
- How to Plan for and Plant Streamside Conservation Buffers with Native Fruit and Nut Trees and Woody Floral Shrubs
- Home Landscape Practices to Protect Water Quality
- Landscaping for Less in the Landfill
- Reducing Erosion and Runoff
- Biochar in agricultural systems
Planting Guide Monthly Infographic
For exact planting dates and a complete calendar, please visit Virginia’s home garden vegetable guide, which provides the content in this graphic.
Onion, Bulbing (set or seed)
Onion, Bulbing (set or seed)
Get Gardening series
Get Gardening is a series of introductory videos that cover common gardening tasks like transplanting, building raised beds, or planning a fall garden. View the full playlist here.
Extension Master Gardener Video Series
From the Consumer Horticulture Specialist
Virginia Cooperative Extension has a lot to offer Virginia gardeners! The resources and publications offered on this page represent just a portion of our work. In counties throughout the commonwealth, teams of Extension agents and Master Gardeners are ready to support you by answering your questions and providing seminars, workshops, and classes. We are proud to extend horticultural and environmental research from Virginia's land-grant universities to the people of the commonwealth.
-Dave Close, Consumer Horticulture Extension Specialist and Extension Master Gardener Program Director