1. Weed the planting area thoroughly.
2. Loosen up the soil with a garden rake, hoe, or a hand tool (this aerates the soil and makes it easier for the roots to spread out).
3. Spread 4-5 inches of compost on the area where you will be planting and rake it into the soil.
4. For planting seeds, apply the depth and spacing of holes as instructed on the seed or plant packaging. (For at-a-glance spacing and depth information for several popular and easy-to-grow vegetables, you can also refer to the GEF Vegetable Planting Chart. With younger children, it can be helpful to make the holes first and then let the kids drop in the seeds. For planting seedlings or young plants, make a hole approximately the same depth as the containers that they came in. Gently loosen the roots with your fingers, being careful not to tear them. Place seedling in the hole.
5. Fill the hole with soil. For seedlings, tamp down firmly with your hands around the plant.
6. Water the seeds or plants thoroughly.
7. Label the area with a plant ID or water-sealed sign. This is especially important when planting seeds, so you are sure not to re-plant in the same area.
8. Section off the area inside the bed – again to be sure that all gardeners and onlookers are aware that something is growing beneath the ground! Use fencing with any materials you have on hand. Or, tie one end of twine or yarn to a twig and stick it in the ground; unravel twine and cut it to the length of the bed. Tie the other end to a twig and stick it into the ground on the other end to mark off the area.
9. It is very important to keep new plants moist, so be sure to check on them daily at the start!
10. Continue to weed around your plants as they grow - weeds compete for the soil’s vital nutrients which feed and sustain your crops.