Plan The Garden In Winter, Plant In Spring

Planning a flower garden is an art; planning a vegetable garden is a science. 

Half the fun of growing things is to make your arranged beds. The other half is to get down on your kneeling pad, dig your fingers in the soil and plant the items you want to grow. 


You can take suggestions from more experienced gardeners, but the final arrangement must be all yours.

During the winter months, planning can begin. I like to settle down cozily before a blazing fire while cold winter winds rage harmlessly outside and draw up a diagram of next season’s vegetable bed. Then, I work with seed catalogs, a large sheet of white paper, a pencil, and a ruler.

Planting Vegetables

When it comes to vegetables, the first thing to do is measure your garden accurately. For example, mine has a row of strawberries running the length of the east side and two rows of asparagus along the west side.

To complicate matters, there is a short double row of raspberries at the southwest end, then some rhubarb, tarragon, and sage. So, I have to carefully diagram the remaining space, not wanting to leave anything out.

When planting corn, I figure it by the ear – how many we’ll eat during August and September (including guests) and how much I’ll want to freeze.

My overall year-round mulching method has made the soil so rich I can count on two ears for each corn stalk. Space-wise, it comes to one limb per foot of a row. Thus I know just how much corn to plant.

I like to grow three early varieties and one main crop to ensure a long season. So, I rule off my rows on the diagram, marking each with the kind of corn and the planting date.

Because of my mulching method, I plant sweet peas in the vegetable gardenóand pick blossoms all summer long. One row is all I need. The other peas, both edible pod and regular, go between the rows of corn.

This saves space, and the peas are harvested before the corn gets big enough to give them an argument. I grow Lincoln bush peas, propping them well with hay so they won’t get wet or droop over the young corn.

I make short work of placing tomatoes: onions, spinach, and peppers. With a bow to the experts, who tell us to rotate (and since it is just as easy to do it as not to) one year, the tomatoes go in the upper half of the garden, the next in the lower.

Also, one year a row of onions goes next to the strawberries, followed by a row of spinach, and the next year I reverse the order. Spinach is harvested very early, so I put the peppers in the same row. Neither disturbs the other.

Parsley has so many uses that you may want some sprigs at any time, so don’t put it too far away. Even when corn is near my garden, I reserve a 10′ foot space for it.

The other vegetables you can put in rows to suit yourself. I can get away with very close planting because of year-round mulching. 

Until you have been converted to my gardening, perhaps you’d better go easy on the crowding.

Some Space-Saving Tricks

Some space-saving tricks that rich soil allows are planting early-harvested lettuce and bush beans with the later cauliflower, cabbage, and turnips or placing kohlrabi between the heads of cabbage and broccoli. 

We are fond of fresh young dill, but it needs several plantings to get through the summer and autumn.

I sow the seeds in the rows of cabbage, broccoli, and caulifloweróso it takes up no space. Radishes can also be planted on vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and parsley. 

It has the added merit of sprouting early and marking the rows. Also, when you pull up the radishes, you thin the other vegetables somewhat, and those three can do with quite a bit of thinning.

On the other hand, if you grow edible soybeans (and it seems a great pity not to, for they are most delicious and teeming with nourishment), take care not to plant too close to any other crop.

They are a significant asset for me, growing so massive that visitors who visit my garden are duly impressed.

I grow pole and bush beans, sticking them at one end of the garden where they take up very little room.

If you are determined to grow pumpkins, squash, and gourds (as I am), the problem is where to put them. 

Cocozelle can be planted in a corn row since it stays put, but the others like to roam and make picking the corn hazardous. So I usually plant them at one end of the garden and let them wander at will.

Well, that’s it. If you have never planned your garden on paper before, you will be astonished at how much time and space it saves you in the spring. And you are more likely to have things exactly where you want them.

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