It would surprise you how little space is needed to reap great salads and vegetables from a home garden. You can dedicate one small corner with a shade cloth covering for your compost pile, adding leftovers, coffee grinds, chopped up banana peels, manure, raked up leaves, and such to the soil to decompose and add richness. As you water down the compost every few days and turn it regularly, you will see a rich dark soil develop before your eyes. It is rewarding to create your own enriched soil to add to the garden area.
To begin a garden that you can grow without pesticides, first you need to till the soil either with a shovel and hoe by the old fashioned or with a power rototiller. Taking reasonable sections to till each day for a week will get the job done with not too many sore muscles. Then work in the enriched compost with perhaps some purchased fertilizer as well and work the soil with finer tools until the big clumps and rocks are removed. To plant the seeds you need a finer texture of soil, so work it for a while.
When you are ready to get your garden set up with the plants you want to grow, with your packets of seeds and starter plants in flats or small pots, then define your areas. Typically, gardens are in squares and rows. But you can be inventive. Once I used a circular child’s wading pool to trace circular areas in the soil, and planted what I called crop circles, with spinach filling one circle, chard the next, hot peppers the next, and then lettuce and other things. They were pretty green circles when the plants grew, with the red brown soil around them.
It looked like giant green polka dots of vegetables. Vegetables that grow easily in most climate zones include those already mentioned, as well as green onions, green and purple cabbages, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, corn, garlic, carrots, herbs, tomatoes, and green beans of course. At times you might want to try an exotic vegetable, such as yard long asian beans, bok choy (which is incredibly easy to grow and is delicious in stir fry dishes), armenian cucumbers, spaghetti or acorn squash and various melons. The fruitfulness of a home garden is pure pleasure. When you can walk right out in the back yard and pick onions and lettuce, you are truly going green.