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How to Start a Vegetable Garden

  • Gardening Tools

    Prepare soil for seedlings and seeds with a trowel. Harvest lettuce, basil, and chives with scissors.

  • Scott Little

    Growing Lettuce and Radishes

    Plant these veggies by patting seeds into the ground in the spring about 6 to 8 weeks before your region's average last frost. Seed websites and packets describe lettuce types by season, telling you what to grow when, depending on where you live. Seeds are fast-growing, so you'll need to wait only a few days before they sprout. You can pull up radishes once they're mature and cut or pick greens frequently to encourage new growth. When the weather gets hotter, the lettuce plants mature and bloom, or "bolt," making them taste bitter. For a crop that will thrive later in the season, try a more heat-tolerant variety such as Lettuce Looseleaf Heatwave, $3.75,

  • Andy Lyons

    Growing Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, and Chives

    Get a jump on your patch by planting already-started seedlings. You can order these plants online but common varieties are easily found at nurseries and garden centers. Tomatoes and basil are heat lovers and are damaged by frost or prolonged cool weather so put them in the soil when it warms up (nighttime temperatures should steadily remain above 45 degrees).

  • Mike Dieter

    What Seed Packets to Buy

    Try these picks from our pro, Rosalind Creasy, but don't be afraid to play around with other types.

    Simpson, red salad bowl, oakleaf, kale

    Try: Mild Mesclun Mix Greens available at

    Baby lettuces, mild chicory, endive, and arugula

    Try: Paris Market Mix available at

    Sweet, crisp, ruffled red leaves

    Try: Rubane Romaine available at

    White, pink, and red round radishes

    Try: Easter Egg II available at

    White radishes ready to harvest in 30 days

    Try: Icicle available at

  • Hopkins Photography

    What Seedlings to Buy

    Try these picks, also from Rosalind Creasy.

    Quarter-size, golden orange tomatoes

    Try: Sun Gold available at

    Thumb-size red tomatoes

    Try: Juliet available at

    Basil with big fragrant leaves

    Try: Summerlong available at

    Try: Genovese available at garden centers

    Chives with mild onion taste and purple flowers

    Try: Common chives available at garden centers

    Originally published in the May 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine.