So, in the Show off Your Latest Purchase thread we got off on vegetable gardens for a bit and Pako mentioned that there are a lot more people growing them due to the economy. So, I decided that a thread on them might help anyone getting started on their first one. I won't pretend to be some expert, but half my family are farmers and I get advice from people who have been doing it their whole lives. This will be my third year growing a vegetable garden. The year before I started that I had a sunflower garden, and got second place at the State Fair for my sunflower entry. A few other members are from farming regions too, so there should be advice from all around. I'll start it off by showing my garden and explaining what I have done. I'm trying a few new things too, so it may be that this acts as more of a "don't do this" garden, but we'll see, I guess. So, a few weeks back I started my seeds in a seed starter kit that you can buy in practically any lawn and garden center. Basically the little peat pods come as small discs that expand when you add water. After they are expanded you add your seeds. This allows you to start your seeds before the last threat of frost passes. These are watermelon and cantaloupe. These are also the ones that didn't get planted in the garden and will likely be tossed once the ones I did plant show signs of getting properly established. No plants with a large tap root, like corn or sunflowers can be done this way. They must be sown into the ground. I have also never managed to get bush beans to successfully germinate in this way. Beans on a vine will, but bush beans always seem to die before they form any kind of leaves. But I try every single year. Now, here is my garden. It is small, about 10x40 feet. This shows one of my experiments, landscaping fabric/weed fabric - it has various names. Anyway, I grew tired of weeds getting in among my vine plants and causing problems where I have trouble actually getting in to weed without risking damage to the plants. I also hate that ground based plants get the dirty/dark spot where they grow. So, this is a double attempt at avoiding those things. I will be covering with a thin layer of dirt once everything gets well established. On the left, in the dirt, I have two rows of corn sown. It appears too close together, but it works every year. Now I just need to stop the raccoons. Then in the end row of dirt I have sown beans. In the shorter section of the fabric are bell peppers, squash, zucchini, and lettuce. On the right are watermelons and cantaloupes. Here is my yellow squash. I bought these, and everything but the melons, in a small pot at Lowe's. I would have started them from seeds but my wife switched what she wanted at the last minute. These are my zucchini. I cannot wait for some nice zucchini bread. Green bell peppers. Yellow bell peppers. Red bell peppers. FIESTA!!! This is my lettuce. It came in a pack of nine. This is my first year with lettuce. The problem I have found is that I have slugs on them within 24 hours. So, a quick check with my mother and grandmother resulted in a few organic tricks. Sharp rocks that they can't crawl over without cutting themselves. Broken egg shells, same as the rocks. A bowl of beer. I am starting with the beer. That was my grandmother's idea, and I trust her better than my mom's ideas, plus I have plenty of that around the house. What I am supposed to do is put a small plastic bowl in the ground to the rim and fill it with beer. The slugs are drawn to the beer (yeast? grains?) and then fall in and drown. That's how I wish to go one day. Seems a waste of beer though. I figure I'll get some Natty Ice or Fall's City beer that goes for $5 a 24 pack or something. I have also heard of a similar trick for chipmunks/ground squirrels involving sunflower sees floating in a bucket of water. Chipmunks are cuter than slugs though. Anyway, we will see how that goes. Here is some cantaloupe, fresh from the seed starter kit. It is just starting to get its first true leaves. And my watermelon. I am a big fan of fresh watermelons and cantaloupes. I also like honey dew, but I ran out room since my wife wanted squash, peppers and lettuce. Now, here is my second experiment: Topsy Turvys. The one on the right has a tomato plant and the one on the left has a cucumber plant. I intend to do two more of these with another tomato and cucumber when they come in, as well as one for strawberries and one for herbs. Basically, they grow upside down. Supposedly this makes nutrients and water flow easier into the plant and create bigger fruit. Personally, I think it is more likely that it allows better sun exposure to the leaves, which will definitely create bigger fruits. When the rest come in I will show them as well. Please ignore the odd lean of my hanging pole. It is an older one that already had a slight bend to it and any weight makes it lean to the left. I need new ones. Tonight I intend to put up a small fence around the garden. In the pictures you see a small bushy plant and a purple flower next to my Topsy Turvys. That is chives (purple flowers) and oregano. Once I get the herb planter in those will be coming out. They were just remnants from my very first garden, which had a row of herbs. I also had strawberries in the garden, but have moved them to pots until the Topsy Turvy for them comes in.