Benefits of Vegetable Gardening

— Written By Bryan Hartman
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Garden volunteers

Faculty and staff volunteers weed around crops at the Agroecology Education Farm during a volunteer workday.

Gardening has benefits that are greater than the amount of food produced. Many gardeners grow vegetables for the outstanding flavor and freshness of homegrown produce or to reduce the family’s food budget. Still, others view vegetable gardening as a relaxing escape from everyday stresses. The food they produce may be secondary to the sense of joy and accomplishment they get from caring for the garden and sharing produce with neighbors and friends.

Successful vegetable gardening begins with selecting a site, planning what to grow, and preparing the soil. Once the garden area is ready, vegetables are selected, planted, and nurtured until the produce is ready to harvest. Vegetable gardening can be accessible to anyone with a sunny space, seeds, water, fertilizer, and patience.

Before putting on your garden gloves and planting seeds in the soil, give careful thought to the weather and types of vegetables that work best for your lifestyle. Consider the size of your family, the vegetables you wish to grow, the health of the soil, and how much time and money you have to invest in a vegetable garden.

The most common vegetable plant grown in a home garden in Stokes County is tomatoes. They are one of the few vegetables that have the ability to produce roots along their stem. Using this knowledge, you can plant the root ball two or three inches deeper than the soil level at planting time, resulting in plants with larger, more substantial root systems. Tomato plants should be spaced at least three feet apart and place a support system around plants to assist them as they grow. Also, mulching the soil underneath and around tomatoes will help regulate soil moisture and keep soil temperatures cooler during the summer.

If you have questions about growing a garden, or need help getting started, contact Bryan Hartman, Agriculture & Natural Resources agent, at 336-593-8179 or

Learn more from Extension fact sheets: “Vegetable Gardening: A Beginner’s Guide.”