The Kitchen Garden Guide
How to Plan Your Vegetable Garden

Get helpful advice from yesterday's garden guide books on how to layout a practical and attractive garden for your family vegetables, greens and herbs.



Plot Plan of a Vegetable Garden


Previous to preparing a kitchen-garden, the gardener should provide a blank-book, and prepare a map of his ground, on which he should first lay out a plan of his garden, allotting a place for all the different kinds of vegetables he intends to cultivate. As he proceeds in the business of planting his grounds, if he should keep an account of everything he does relative to his garden, he would soon obtain some knowledge of the art.

If gardeners would accustom themselves to record the dates and particulars of their transactions relative to tillage, planting, etc., they would always know when to expect their seed to come up, and how to regulate their crops for succession; and when it is considered that plants of the brassica, or Cabbage tribe, are apt to get infected at the roots, if too frequently planted in the same ground, and that a rotation of crops in general is beneficial, it will appear evident that a complete register of everything relative to culture is as essential to success in the kitchen-garden as in agriculture proper.

By Thomas Bridgeman, from his 1866 book, THE AMERICAN GARDENER'S ASSISTANT


The most convenient mode of arranging the different kinds of vegetables is to; 1st, place the perennial plants in one bed, running the entire length of the ground; 2d, Plant the vegetables side by side which are to remain out all winter, so as not to interfere with next spring's plowing; 3d, Arrange side by side those varieties which require the whole season to mature; and, 4th, put beside each other the quickly maturing kinds, which may be succeeded by other varieties, in order that the ground to be occupied by a second crop may be all in one piece.



If desirable, a border may be formed around the whole garden, from five to ten feet wide, according to the size of the piece of land. Next to this border, a walk may be made from three to six feet wide; and the middle of the garden may be divided into squares, on the sides of which a border may be laid out three or four feet wide, in which the various kinds of herbs may be raised, and also gooseberries, currants, raspberries, strawberries, etc. The centre beds may be planted with various kinds of vegetables, The outside borders will be useful for raising the earliest fruits and vegetables, and serve for raising and picking out such young plants, herbs, and cuttings, as require to be screened from the intense heat of the sun.

All standard trees should be excluded from a kitchen garden, as their roots spread so widely, and imbibe so much moisture from the ground, that little is left for the nourishment of any plant within the range of their influence; and when in full leaf, they shade a large space, and obstruct the free circulation of the air, so essential to the well-being of all plants. Moreover, the droppings from some trees are particularly injurious to whatever vegetation they fall upon. When any plants require a shade it is infinitely better to make a temporary protection with wide boards placed on stones, or billets of wood, than to attempt to plant in the shade of trees. In the absence of wide boards for screening plants from the intense heat of the sun, two or more narrow boards may be placed side by side.




Where there is no lack of land, it may be well to make the garden of double size, so that each one-half (divided lengthwise) may be renewed and rendered clean from time to time by seeding to clover and mowing once or twice before it is cropped again with vegetables. Or one-half may be planted to potatoes, corn, or tomatoes, or other field crops, and the two halves used alternately for garden purposes. The great advantage of a thorough system of rotation can hardly be pointed out too often.

From the 1894 book, HOW TO MAKE THE GARDEN PAY



It is of great importance to rapid work and good gardening that all this should be arranged and settled in the gardener's mind, or better, plotted out on paper, before the first plowing is done in the spring. The plan being kept would be valuable in laying out the garden the succeeding year, as it would show just where each vegetable had been grown and where the different kinds of manure had been applied. If, in addition, the success of the various crops and notes of their growth were marked upon it, it would form a most valuable text-book for the study of improved gardening, each garden being an experimental station and each gardener a student in pursuit of knowledge and advancement in his work, feeding at the same time both physical and intellectual needs.




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