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Home Vegetable Gardening

A Complete & Practical Guide To The Planting & Care Of Vegetables, Fruits & Berries

Chapter 4: The Planting Plan

Having selected the garden spot, the next consideration, naturally, is what will be planted.

The old way was to pick out some seeds from your local supermarket or garden center, pick out a list of the vegetables most enthusiastically recommended by the garden center clerk, and then, when the time came, to put them in at one or two plantings, sowing each kind as far as the seed would go.

There is a better way a way to make the garden produce more, to yield things when you want them, and in the proper proportions.

All these advantages, you may suppose, must mean more work. On the contrary, however, the new way makes very much less work and makes results a hundred per cent more certain. It is not necessary even that more thought be put upon the garden, but forethought there must be. Forethought, however, is much more satisfactory than hind-thought.

In the new way of gardening there are four great helps, four things that will be of great assistance to the experienced gardener, and that are indispensable to the success of the beginner. They are the Planting Plan, the Planting Table, the Check List and the Garden Record.

Don't become discouraged at the formidable sound of that paragraph and decide that after all you do not want to fuss so much over your garden; that you are doing it for the fun of the thing anyway, and such intricate systems will not be worth bothering with. The purpose of those four garden helps is simply to make your work less and your returns more. You might just as well refuse to use a rototiller because the trowel was good enough for your grandmother's garden, as to refuse to take advantage of the modern garden methods described in this chapter.

Without using them to some extent, or in some modified form, you can never know just what you are doing with your garden or what improvements to make next year. Of course, each of the plans or lists suggested here is only one of many possible combinations. You should be able to find, or better still to construct, similar ones better suited to your individual taste, need and opportunity. That, however, does not lessen the necessity of using some such system. It is just as necessary an aid to the maximum efficiency in gardening as are modern tools.

Don't fear that you will waste time on the planting plan. Master it and use it, for only then can you make your garden time count the most in producing results. In the average small garden there is a very large percentage of waste for two weeks, more string beans than can be eaten or given away; and then, for a month, none at all, for instance. You should determine ahead as nearly as possible how much of each vegetable your table will require and then try to grow enough of each for a continuous supply, and no more. This is what the planting plan enables you to do. I'll describe, as briefly as possible, forms of the planting plan, planting table, check list and record, which I've found convenient to use.

To make the Planting Plan, take a sheet of white paper and a ruler and mark off a space the shape of your garden which should be rectangular if possible using a scale of one-quarter or one-eighth inch to the foot. Rows fifty feet long will be found, a convenient length for the average home garden. In a garden where many varieties of things are grown it will be best to run the rows the short way of the piece.

We'll take a fifty-foot row for the purpose of illustration, though of course it can readily be changed in proportion where rows of that length cannot conveniently be made. In a very small garden it will be better to make the row, say, twenty-five feet long, the aim being always to keep the row a unit and have as few broken ones as possible, and still not to have to plant more of any one thing than will be needed.

In assigning space for the various vegetables several things should be kept in mind in order to facilitate planting, replanting and cultivating the garden. These can most quickly be realized by a glance at the plan illustrated herein.

You'll notice that crops that remain several years rhubarb and asparagus are kept at one end. Next come those that will remain a whole season parsnips, carrots, onions and the like. Finally, those that will be used for a succession of crops peas, lettuce, spinach; moreover, tall-growing crops, like pole beans, are kept to the north of lower ones. In the plan illustrated, the space given to each variety is allotted according to the proportion in which they are ordinarily used. If it happens that you have a special weakness for peas, or your mother-in-law an aversion to peppers, keep these tastes and similar ones in mind when laying out your planting plan.

Don't leave the planning of your garden until you're ready to put the seeds in the ground and then do it all in a rush. Do it in January, as soon as you've received the New Year's catalogs and when you have time to study over them and look up your record of the previous year. Every hour spent on the plan will mean several hours saved in the garden.

The Planting Table is the next important system in the business of gardening, especially for the beginner. In it one can see at a glance all the details of the particular treatment each vegetable requires when to sow, how deep, how far apart the rows should be, etc.  I remember how many trips from garden to house to hunt through catalogs for just such information I made in my first two seasons' gardening. How much time, just at the very busiest season of the whole year, such a table would have saved!

The Planting Table prepared for one's own use should show, besides the information given, the varieties of each vegetable which experience has proved best adapted to one's own needs. The table shown herein gives such a list; varieties which are for the most part standard favorites and all of which, with me, have proven reliable, productive and of good quality. Other good sorts will be found described in Part Two. Such a table should be mounted on cardboard and kept where it may readily be referred to at planting time.

The Check List is the counterpart of the planting table, so arranged that its use will prevent anything from being overlooked or left until too late. Prepare it ahead, some time in January, when you have time to think of everything. Make it up from your planting table and from the previous year's record. From this list it will be well to put down on a sheet of paper the things to be done each month (or week) and cross them off as they are attended to. Without some such system it's almost a certainty that you'll overlook some important things.

The Garden Record is no less important. It may be kept in the simplest sort of way, but be sure to keep it. A large piece of paper ruled as follows, for instance, will require only a few minutes' attention each week and yet will prove to be of the greatest assistance in planning.

Vegetable Garden Record


Beans, dwarf Red Valentine May 10 July 6 Not best quality. Try other earlies
Golden Wax May 15 July 22 Rusted. Spray next year
Bean, pole Old Homestead May 16 July 26 Too many. 6 poles next year
Early Leviathan May 25 Aug. 19 Good. Dry.
Bean, lima Fordhook May 15 Rotted. Try May 25
Beet Egyptian Apr. 10 June 12 Roots sprangled
Eclipse Apr. 10 June 14 Better quality
Cabbage Wakefield Apr. 9 June 20 Injured by worms. Hellebore next year.
Etc., etc. 

Click Here To Go To In-Depth Planting Tables

The above shows how such a record should be kept. Of course, only the first column is written in ahead of time. I want to emphasize in passing, however, the importance of putting down your data on the day you plant, or harvest, or notice anything worth recording. If you let it go until tomorrow it's very apt to be lacking next year.

Try these four short-cuts to success, even if you've had a garden before. They will make a big difference in your garden; less work and greater results.

Check List

Jan. 1st: Send for catalogs. Make planting plan and table. Order seeds.

Feb. 1st: Inside: cabbage, cauliflower, first sowing. Onions for plants.

Feb. 15th: Inside: lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, beets.

March 1st: Inside: lettuce, celery, tomato (early).

March 15th: Inside: lettuce, tomato (main), eggplant, pepper, lima beans, cucumber, squash; sprout potatoes in sand.

April 1st: Inside: cauliflower (on sods), muskmelon, watermelon, corn.
Outside: (seed-bed) celery, cabbage, lettuce. Onions, carrots, smooth peas, spinach, beets, chard, parsnip, turnip, radish. Lettuce, cabbage (plants).

May 1st: Beans, corn, spinach, lettuce, radish.

May 15th: Beans, limas, muskmelon, watermelon, summer squash, peas, potatoes, lettuce, radish, tomato (early), corn, limas, melon, cucumber and squash (plants).

Pole-lima, beets, corn, kale, winter squash, pumpkin, lettuce, radish.

June 1st: Beans, carrots, corn, cucumber, peas, summer spinach, summer lettuce, radish, egg-plant, pepper, tomato (main plants).

June 15th: Beans, corn, peas, turnip, summer lettuce, radish, late cabbage, and tomato plants.

July 1st: Beans, endive, kale, lettuce, radish, winter cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and celery plants.

July 15th: Beans, early corn, early peas, lettuce, radish.

Aug. 1st: Early peas, lettuce, radish.

Aug. 15th: Early peas, lettuce, radish in seed-bed, forcing lettuce for fall in frames.

Sept. 1st: Lettuce, radish, spinach and onions for wintering over. NOTE.--This list is for planting only (the dates are approximate: see note I at the end of the chapter).

Spraying and other garden operations may also be included in such a list.

See Calendar of Operations.

Planting Table

Click Here To Go To In-Depth Planting Tables

Table of Contents

Part One

1) Introduction

2) Why You Should Garden

3) Requisites Of The Home Vegetable Garden

4) The Planting Plan

5) Implements And Their Uses

6) Manures, Fertilizers And Mulching

7) The Soil And Its Preparation


Part  Two  Vegetables

8) Starting The Plants

9) Sowing And Planting

10) The Cultivation Of Vegetables

11) The Vegetables And Their Special Needs

12) Best Varieties Of The Garden Vegetables

13) Insects And Disease, And Methods Of Fighting Them

14) Harvesting And Storing


Part  Three  Fruits

15) The Varieties Of Pome And Stone Fruits

16) Planting; Cultivation; Filler Crops

17) Pruning, Spraying, Harvesting

18) Berries And Small Fruits

19) A Calendar Of Operations

20) Conclusion

Go To Part 1-5: Implements And Their Uses

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