Home Vegetable Garden: A Simple Plan

Home gardening provides pleasure and recreation as well as food — if the home gardener does not try to cultivate more land than he can take care of. 

Vegetable GardenPin

Ideal Conditions For Family Gardens

Family gardens may range from “two by four” window boxes up to a quarter acre in size, but a garden measuring 50 by 100 feet is ideal. 

If well planned, this plot will produce sufficient vegetables for a family of five, and there will be plenty of surpluses that may be canned or frozen.

Such a plot will require an average of one hour’s labor a day throughout the growing season.

If your time budget is less, then the plot size should be cut down right at the start because a small garden well cared for gives greater returns than a large garden allowed to run to weeds.

Types Of Soils 

The gardener is fortunate, indeed, if he has mellow and loamy soil, 6” inches deep, free from stones and rubbish, fairly level and well-drained, for this is ideal.

Other types of soil will grow good vegetables, but heavy clay or coarse sandy and gravelly soils should be avoided, for they generally do not produce well.

The garden should be located where it will not be shaded or where plants must compete with trees or shrubs for food and moisture.

Growth Of Weeds 

The growth of weeds is a fair index of fertility. If soil supports a good weed crop, it can, with proper management, grow a good crop of vegetables with no difficulty.

Many soils are too acidic for the best growth of vegetables. Most crops will benefit from an application of 30 to 40 pounds of hydrated lime to 1,000 square feet. 

The need for lime, however, should be ascertained from a soil test made by your nearest state college or experiment station. Home tests can be made, too, with kits now available.

Preparation Of The Soil

Thorough preparation of the soil is essential. Smaller plots may be turned over by hand, but much spading soon dampens the interest in gardening. 

Usually, it is much more satisfactory to have the plot plowed. Plowing until the soil has dried off fairly well is not desirable. 

In many localities, renting a rotary tiller by the day is possible, or doing the job at an hourly rate. 

In any case, if a handful of soil is clenched tightly in one hand and crumbles when patted with the other hand, it is in ideal condition.

Stable or poultry manure are ideal soil amendments applied broadcast and plowed under in the spring. 

Placing a forkful of fresh manure directly under seeds or plants is to be discouraged. 

Fresh Manure

Fresh manure gives off ammonia gas that may injure or kill seedlings and freshly transplanted plants. 

After the soil is turned over, an application of complete commercial fertilizer raked or harrowed into the soil will assure better returns. 

About 40 pounds of 5-8-7, 5-10-5, or 4-12-4 fertilizer to 1,000 square feet will provide ample plant food. 

This is particularly effective when combined with garden humus or even peat when animal manures are unavailable. An inch or 2” inches of such humus well worked in will pay for itself in results. 

Commercial Fertilizers

Commercial fertilizers are concentrated, and the gardener should not place too much under plants or too close to the seed rows. 

In any event, fertilizer should be used whether or not manure has been applied and regardless of whether fertilizer was used last year.

Many home gardeners make the mistake of not planning the garden before planting. Without careful planning, the home garden becomes a “feast and famine” garden. Too much of one vegetable is planted at a time. 

As a result, the family gets “fed up” with beans, for example, and then there are no beans for the rest of the summer. Plant a smaller quantity of each vegetable but do it several times during the season.

Then the plan should be kept near at hand; if a label marks each row in the garden before planting, it will avoid confusion. 

Perennials And Other Crops

Perennials such as rhubarb and asparagus are planted along one side of the garden. 

  • Tall-growing crops such as pole beans, sweet corn, and staked tomatoes should not shade the shorter-growing plants except lettuce when warm weather approaches. 
  • Short-season crops such as radishes, onions, spinach, and peas mature quickly, and if grouped in the garden, they’ll provide considerable space for late-planted crops.

At least 12 or more varieties of the root, leafy, and fruit or pod vegetables. A succession of crops should be planned, and every part of the garden should have a crop growing on it all through the season.

Single Crops 

As soon as one crop is harvested, another should be planted. The only single plantings are such crops as:

  • Tomatoes
  • Swiss chard 
  • Lima beans
  • Peppers 

These produce well until frost. Which crops to grow is an individual problem that each family must decide for itself. However, I suggest special attention be given to crops adapted to storage or canning.

First Crops To Plant In Spring

Onions are often the first crop planted in the spring. Generally, they are more successful if grown from sets. 

A quart planted 3” inches apart in rows 15” inches apart will provide sufficient onions for the average family.

Peas are another crop that must be planted early. Peas planted after Way I produce much less than those started as soon as the ground is ready. 

Three Well-Known Varieties

World’s Record, Laxton’s Progress, and Alderman are three well-known varieties that will give a good succession if planted simultaneously. At the same time, Freezonian is highly recommended for those who like quick-freeze peas. 

Plant about 1” inch deep and one inch apart in rows 2′ feet apart. Many prefer to plant double rows 6” inches apart in the trench and use a brush for support. 

The double rows are then spaced about 30” inches apart. About 3 pounds of seed should be planted for a family of five.

Early Cabbage: Popular Crop

Early cabbage is a popular crop; a dozen very early plants can be purchased from a nearby plantsman for a modest amount. Golden Acre and Early Jersey Wakefield are two of the best home garden varieties. 

The plants should be set 18” inches apart and about 30” inches between rows. 

Succession can be had all summer and fall from one packet of seed if 2′ or 3′ feet of the row are sown thinly once a month during April, May, June, and possibly July. 

When the plants crowd, thin them to 2” inches apart. They will be large enough to transplant to the permanent row in a few weeks. 

This same practice can be followed with broccoli and cauliflower, except that the two early sowings of cauliflower are not as successful as the last two.

Carrots: Recommended For Home Garden

Carrots are certainly recommended for the home garden. Red Cored Chantenay, Imperator, Nantes, and Tendersweet are desirable varieties. 

A 20-foot row planted monthly up until July 15 will provide a continuous supply. A one-quarter ounce of seed should be ample for a family of five. 

Plant the seed not more than ½” inch deep and thin the plants 2” to 3” inches apart when 2” inches tall.

Tender young beets vie with crisp carrots for a choice spot in the garden. Their culture is about the same, except that this is one of the first vegetables to notice poor soil. 

Recommended varieties include:

  • Detroit Dark Red 
  • Selected Crosby’s Egyptian
  • Winter Keeper

One ounce of seed should be enough. Make monthly plantings until August 1. Snap or “string” beans are extremely easy to grow. 

Pencil Pod Black Wax

The Pencil Pod Black Wax is recommended for a yellow bean, while Top crop and Bountiful are good green varieties. 

If up to 10 feet of row is planted for each family member starting May 1 and repeated in June and July, an over-supply of beans will be avoided. 

The seed should be planted one inch deep and 3” inches apart in rows 24” inches apart. One pound of seed will plant 100′ feet of row. 

Tender Sweet Corn

A planting of sweet corn once each week from May 1 until July will supply corn from mid-July until frost. 

A half dozen hills for each family member at every planting should be sufficient. The Golden Cross Bantam and Carmelcross are especially recommended. 

One pound of seed should be ample. The hills are generally spaced 3′ feet apart each way, and the seed is planted 1″ inch deep.

Setting Out of Plants

Fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes are as luscious as any vegetable and are simple to grow. Ten plants of each, Stokesdale, Marglobe, or Rutgers for each family member will allow plenty for fresh consumption and plenty to can. 

The plants are generally set out 4 by 4 feet apart after danger from frost has passed. A few hills of Yankee Hybrid summer squash will provide a good supply for 2 months. For truly delicious squash pie, try a few hills of Buttercup squash, a winter type.

A few hills of Straight Eight cucumber and several plantings of Scarlet Globe radish, say 10 feet of row at each planting, and 15′ or 20′ feet of Fordhook Giant or Lucullus Swiss chard will provide a garden that will be the envy of your neighbors.

Seed Sowing

The depth of planting seeds is a problem for many beginners, and too deep planting results in a poor stand of plants. 

In general, small seeds such as turnips and carrots should be covered with not more than one-half inch of soil. 

Larger seeds such as beans and peas or onion sets are generally covered to a depth of about one inch. 

18” to 30” inches are allowed between most rows to provide room for growth and cultivation.

Quantity of Seeds

As to the quantity of seed to sow, it’s safe to make a fairly heavy seeding and then thin out the plants to the desired distance after the young plants are big enough to handle. 

It takes practice to prevent some waste of seed. Most beginners waste seed by sowing it too thickly.

44659 by William H. Lachman