Contrary to popular belief anyone can plan a vegetable garden. Start with a rough sketch of the garden area.
After you have decided what vegetables you shall grow you may save yourself work and also assure far greater yields if you will make a planting plan which shows the approximate sowing date for each kind, the time each normally needs to reach edible maturity, what ones to sow (as seeds) or plant (as plants), where others are to go first, second, and so on. If you apply market gardeners’ methods to your garden you may make parts of it produce two, three or even four crops in a single season.
To apply these methods you need only sort the vegetables into one or other of five groups according to the times their seeds must be sown or their plants set in the garden and the amount of time each needs to mature.
1. Group number one includes those hardy vegetables whose seeds must be sown in earliest spring and which are to occupy the ground until late fall: Leek, chard, parsnip, salsify, parsley, celeriac and chicory.
2. Those sown or planted in earliest spring but which reach maturity between early summer and early fall: Early cabbage, long rooted radish, beet, onion, carrot, pea, early turnip, kohlrabi and early celery.
3. Vegetables which are killed by frost in late spring or early fall and which must not be sown or planted until this danger has passed in spring: Corn, bean, okra, tomato, pepper, eggplant, cucumber, squash, pumpkin and melon.
4. Hardy vegetables sown or planted in midsummer and gathered in fall: Late turnip, rutabaga, carrot, cauliflower, beet, broccoli, kale, late cabbage, Brussels sprouts, late celery, endive and kohlrabi.
5. Early-maturing crops sown in early spring or sown in late summer for fall use: Onion sets, lettuce, radish, spinach, mustard, and pea.
It will save considerable annoyance when working up a plan and a great deal of time and work in the garden if you will decide upon a uniform distance between rows — say 15 inches — and allow twice or three times this distance between rows of vegetables that require extra space. By so doing you can avoid fussy measuring both on the plan and in the garden.
When working on the plan the best way is to place the longest season, earliest sown or planted crops first and at double the unit distance between rows. That leaves room for planting other vegetables later between the rows. After placing these add those to grow as “second sowings” — usually sown two weeks after the first. All of them belong in group two. You may even make a third sowing of these a month later than the first. Next place the crops sown or planted in late spring, then those of midsummer and finally those of late summer. Many vegetables in these three groups may occupy the ground after early ones have been gathered. In such cases they should be shown on the plan where they belong — the earliest sown being placed first at say the left margin with date of sowing and approximate time needed to mature, the second with similar data next and so on till each row on the plan shows what will occupy each strip of ground from early spring till late fall.
In laying out the garden two points must be considered as to the direction the rows should be run.
1. When they run north and south the plants get the best advantage of the sunlight without unduly shading other plants nearby. If necessary to make the rows run east and west, the tall growing kinds should be placed on the north side of the garden to prevent their shading lower growing plants.
2. Whenever possible have the rows run the long way of the garden so as to reduce the turning of the tiller at the ends of the rows. As to which of these considerations is the more desirable you must decide for yourself, being governed mainly by the shape of your garden, the lay of the land and so on.
M.G. Kains and Almanac Staff

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