Planting Your Garden

… from Dirt To Delectables ...
 Notes from Andy Pollock

Setting the Seed - Keeping it simple

Make or buy wooden stakes sixteen to eighteen inches long.  These will do for most vegetables.  Get a length of sturdy string a few feet longer than the longest row in your "patch".  Tie a stake at each end of the string and then push the two stakes (with the string attached) into the soil at each end of the row you are going to plant..  This is an excellent way to make your rows straight.  

I usually plant things like lettuce, green onion, chard, spinach, etc. in the outside rows of the vegetable garden.  This way you can pick what you need without walking between rows and packing the soil.

Another option is planing carrots, early beets, radishes, and other quicker maturing vegetables along outside rows of flower beds.

Alternate root vegetables with leaf vegetables when planting in side by side rows.  Row widths of twelve to sixteen inches is usually adequate for most small home gardens.

When planting vegetables that have a fairly long germination time, sprinkle a few radish seeds in with things like carrots, parsnips, etc.  Radishes vary in maturity number of days but are mainly finished before the later vegetables need to be thinned.


Many varieties of vegetables started in the house, green house, or bought at nurserys, can be planted out quite early on with minimal protection.

Varieties such as onions, cabage, kale, collards, brussel sprouts, etc. can be transplanted to the garden and covered with a lift protective row cover which allows for about 85% of light to penetrate.  Rain water or sprinkler will go through but will help to keep out insect pests.

Potatoes can be planed as soon as soil can be worked.  Peas are also great for early planting.  Spinach, carrots and parsnip seeds can be put in three weeks before the last hard frost.

In many areas it is best to start some vegetables, fruits, and flowers in the house or heated green house.

Talk to gardeners in your area as they will have the most pertinent information for planting (in your area). Garden centres are also a good information source.  … and of course, they sell flower and  vegetable plants if you don't want to start them at home yourself.

New gardeners in colder climates of Canada or the United States, [it] would be a good idea to buy a gardening book (or two) about cold weather gardening.

The  "Northern Gardener" is one excellent choice. (ISBN is 1-55209-012-4

It is available from:

Firefly Books
3680 Victoria Park Avenue
Willowdale, Ontario
Canada, M2H 3K1

or in the U.S.A. at;

Firefly Books (U.S.) Inc.
P.O. Box 1338 , Ellicott Station
Buffalo, New York,  14205

The Rows

Some Choices / ... you can use any combination of these - whatever you choose and what may best suite your garden area.  

 Single Row Planting
 Wide Row Planting
 Block or Square Row Planting

Single Row Planting  [most common - especially in smaller garden plots]

As described, this is where you plant one, single row of seed in a single line.   

 - put a short stake at each end of where you want your row and tie a string from one stake to the other.  Now you will have a nice, straight row.
 - use a stake or your garden rake to drag a small furrow [ditch] along the string
 [the depth of the furrow will depend upon what type of vegetable seed you are planting]

Wide Row Planting [reduces water usage and weeding]

- this method works well with using a root-tiller [rear tine is recommended]

Square or Bock Row Planting
 - just as it sounds, your area to be planted is in the shape of a square block.  Often 2 x 2 feet or larger.  ... again, whatever seems to suite you and your garden area.
 - provides easy access to all sides without stepping on plants
 - you may find square planting ideal for a small herb garden, or your lettuce and radishes

NOTE:  An often overlooked issue is how wide apart your rows should be IN RELATION TO THE "WIDTH" OF THE SPECIFIC PLANT LEAF SPREAD.
i.e.  pumpkins = very broad spread vs carrots, not so.  

Planning Your Garden Plot

- length of row [leave some room at each end to be able to move about, and more if you are using a root-tiller]
how wide are your actual rows going to be?
what spade will you need between the rows?  [very important consideration]

Planning your garden plot is not really a difficult task - but it is a very important one.  
 - start by measuring your overall garden dimensions - length and width
 - with the sunshine in mind, decide which direction your rows will go
 - now, you should read the instructions on the seeds you want to plant - they will tell you how far apart (in the row) to set them, how deep and usually how much spread they will take up
 - with that information - you will be able to determine how wide you locate your rows.
 - draw your garden to scale on paper and see what it may look like after you have drawn in the rows.  [chances are you will be surprised at how few rows you really can put in - do not be discouraged - 

   Canadian Alphabetical Seed & Garden Supplier List  (we do our best to keep this    list current - however for a variety of reasons we cannot guarantee that it always is.

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K    L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V    W   XYZ

 U.S.  Alphabetical Seed & Garden Supplier List  (we do our best to keep this   list current - however for a variety of reasons we cannot guarantee that it always is.

 A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M    N    O  P   Q   R  S   T   U   V   W   XYZ