I think it's wonderful that there are a lot of new vegetable gardeners now. Growing food is part of a new way of living for some, it helps others keep to their budget, and some people see it as a healthy activity producing organic food for the table. Whatever the reason, producing some of your own food is a good thing. It gives us life skills, it's a great activity to enjoy with the kids and it takes us into the natural world outside our door everyday. But vegetable gardening is a complex simple activity. It requires an amount of expertise and skill to be good at it. That comes with time, by simply gardening every season. Each year you learn new things, it's an activity for the brain as much as it is those other wonderful things. If you're a new gardener, I encourage you to buy a very good organic vegetable gardening book that is suitable for your area. The one I use here most often is Lyn Bagnall's Easy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting, but I also like, and often read, Linda Woodrow's The Permaculture Home Garden. You don't want a book full of pretty pictures, you need one that has good practical information about gardening in your climate.
If you have no reference book yet, check out your local library to see what they have or ask your local gardening club which of the organic vegetable gardening books suits your area best. Once you have your book, read about soil types, worms, compost etc, but about what you're about to plant. If you're doing the 3x3 method, read as much as you can about those nine vegetables. A good book will give you information about soil conditions, seed or seedling spacing, fertilising, plant growth, plant maintenance and harvesting specific to each of your vegetables.
The thing that will help most with growing vegetables is to plant them in good soil. You don't have to start off with good soil, we didn't, our soil is clay, but over the years, because we added compost and organic matter each year, it's turned into the most beautiful loam. The range of soil goes from sandy, to loam, to clay. Sandy soil has very little organic matter and will therefore be unable to hold water, support worms and microbes or provide a suitable growing medium for your plants. Treat it with organic matter and compost - mulch your plants with straw or hay, it will break down and add organic matter to the soil. Loam is good for most vegetables. It has an amount of organic matter, good structure and will support the unseen life of microbes and worms. To keep it that way, add compost every year, and mulch your plants with straw or hay. Clay is full of nutrients but the structure is so dense, it doesn't allow air in or water to drain away. The solution? You guessed it - add compost and organic matter, with a bit of gypsum. That will break up the clay and give you excellent soil after a couple of years.
If you have deficient soil that you want to plant in this season, there is a way. Either build a no dig garden or dig compost and organic matter into your entire garden and plant into pockets of pure compost. The second option would be my preference. After a few seasons doing this, you'll eventually improve even the worst soil - either sandy or clay, and you'll get wonderful healthy vegetables. BTW, organic matter can be many things like old grass clippings, worm castings, shredded newspaper, vegetable peels, straw etc, or a combination of all of them - you need to dig it in well. The best kind of organic matter is compost which is all those things previously mentioned that have been wet and allowed to decompose. The structure of compost is very similar to that of loam so it gives the tiny seedling roots a good medium in which to grow. If you're serious about your gardening, I encourage you to build a compost heap. Not only will it give you valuable compost, it will help you reduce the amount of "rubbish" you put in the garbage bin.
Tomorrow, I'll write about fertilising leafy green vegetables and fruiting vegetables because some of you mentioned recently that you over fertilised. The following day I'll write about making compost in the backyard.
Don't expect to have perfection or success with every thing you grow. Gardening is a natural process that we can assist but not control. The best way to approach gardening in the first few years is to plant only what you can manage, plant what you eat, and learn as you go. I learn new things every year and I've been gardening for yonks. Being a gardener is like joining a secret club full of generous people who will help you whenever they can. Your part of the bargain is to help others in years to come. If you can do that, you'll be a true gardener and worthy of the title.