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The Planting Plan

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

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.

Do not 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. Do not 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. It is just this that the planting plan enables you to do.

I will describe, as briefly as possible, forms of the planting plan, planting table, check list and record, which I have found it 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 will 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 can not 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 will 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. And 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.

Do not leave the planning of your garden until you are ready to put the seeds in the ground and then do it all in a rush. Do it in January, as soon as you have 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 is almost a certainty that you will 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 of the greatest assistance in planning the garden.





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