Planning is the first and most basic step in home vegetable gardening. Planning not only saves time when you're ready to plant, it also gives you an idea of the types and quantities of seeds or plants you'll need. Most importantly, planning helps assure that the home garden will satisfy your needs and desires.
Here are some things to keep in mind while planning your garden:
- You can plant cool-season vegetables as the soil warms up around April. Cool-season vegetables include onions, radishes, lettuce, spinach, and carrots.
- Do not plant warm-season crops until the danger for frost has passed. Warm-season crops include tomato, green beans, peppers, cucumbers, and squash. See the map on this page. You can also find the average frost and freeze dates for your area by visiting the National Climatic Data Center Freeze/Frost Data page and clicking on your state.
- Grow your vegetables in an open, level area with loose, rich soil. Vegetables grow best in these conditions. If your soil's quality is poor you may need to amend the soil in some way or consider raised bed or container gardening (PDF).
- Make sure your site has good drainage. A good site won't have standing water after rain or irrigation.
- Make sure your site receives at least six hours of sunlight a day.
- Avoid planting vegetables near trees and shrubs. Vegetables planted too close to landscape plants will have to compete for light, nutrients, and water.
- Do not plant vegetables near walnut trees. Walnut trees produce a substance that is toxic to some plants, causing them to wilt and die.
- Make a rough blueprint of your garden plot before the season starts. Include the vegetables you will plant, which rows they will be in, the distance between rows, the expected planting date, and any other information you feel would be helpful.
- Group vegetables according to height and season. Plant tall crops in the north end of the garden
Find Out More
Purdue Extension offers several gardening publications that offer planning tips, many free.
Request copies from your Purdue Extension county office or find them at the Education Store (www.extension.purdue.edu/store):
- Home Gardener’s Guide (HO-32-W)
- Small Plot and Intensive Gardening (HO-124-W)
- Indiana Vegetable Planting Calendar (HO-186-W)
- Spring Garden Calendar (HO-91-W)
- Summer Garden Calendar (HO-92-W)
- Autumn Garden Calendar (HO-93-W)
- Winter Garden Calendar (HO-90-W)
- Container and Raised Bed Gardening (HO-200-W)
- A Beginner's Guide to Vegetable Gardening CD (CD-HO-2)