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 2020 season? Looking for some tips? Check out our "Get Gardening!" series every Thursday through the spring and summer on Facebook Live.

Resources for Vegetable and Fruit Gardening in Virginia

Introduction

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

Buying seeds:

 

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:

Mulching:

Compost

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.

For an introduction to becoming a plant-problem sleuth, read Diagnosing Plant Problems. You may also find Integrated Pest Management for Vegetable Gardens helpful.

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:

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

You can extend your growing season earlier in the spring and later into the fall by sheltering plants from very cold weather. 

Planting Guide Monthly Infographic

chart showing list of vegetables to plant by usda zone

For exact planting dates and a complete calendar, please visit Virginia’s home garden vegetable guide, which provides the content in this graphic. 

Graphic text:

Vegetables to plant in May (* denotes transplant)

ZONE 6A

Beans, Brush

Beans, pole

Beets

Carrots

Chard,Swiss

Cucumbers

Kohlrabi

Lettuce, Baby Salad

Muskmelons

Onion, Bulbing

Potatoes

Squash, Summer

Squash, Winter

Sweet Corn

Sweet Potato

Turnips

Watermelon

 

tomatoes*

broccoli*

cabbage*

eggplant*

leeks*

lettuce, head*

peppers*

Beans, Brush

Beans, pole

Beans, Lima

Beets

Carrots

Chard,Swiss

Collards, Kale

Cucumbers

Kohlrabi

Lettuce, Baby Salad

Muskmelons

Onion, Bulbing

Potatoes

Pumpkins

Squash, Summer

Squash, Winter

Sweet Corn

Sweet Potato

Turnips

Watermelon

 

tomatoes*

peppers*

lettuce, head*

leeks*

broccoli*

cabbage*

eggplant*

Zone 7A

Beans, Brush

Beans, pole

Beans, Lima

Beets

Chard,Swiss

Collards, Kale

Cucumbers

Lettuce, Baby Salad

Muskmelons

Onion, Bulbing

Potatoes

Pumpkins

Squash, Summer

Squash, Winter

Sweet Corn

Sweet Potato

Turnips

Watermelon

 

broccoli*

cabbage*

eggplant*

lettuce, head*

peppers*

tomatoes*

ZONE 7B

Beans, Brush

Beans, pole

Beans, Lima

Cucumbers

Lettuce, Baby Salad

Muskmelons

Okra

Mustard

Onion, bulbing

Potatoes

Southern pea

Squash, Summer

Squash winter

Sweet Corn

Sweet potato

Pumpkins

Watermelon

 

tomatoes*

eggplant*

leeks*

lettuce, head*

peppers*

Zone 8a

Beans, Brush

Beans, pole

Beans, Lima

Cucumbers

Lettuce, Baby Salad

Muskmelons

Okra

Mustard

Onion, bulbing

Potatoes

Southern pea

Squash, Summer

Squash winter

Sweet Corn

Sweet potato

Pumpkins

Watermelon

 

tomatoes*

eggplant*

leeks*

lettuce, head*

peppers*

Get Gardening series

Getting Started in the Veggie Garden with Gaylynn Johnson of Hampton VCE

Extension Master Gardener Video Series

dave close headshot

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