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Photo: Open magazines. Photo: Longwood Gardens. Photo: Tomatoes.

Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet FS129

Planning a Vegetable Garden

  • Peter Nitzsche, Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent, Morris County
  • Steve Reiners, Former Extension Specialist in Vegetable Crops

The most important factor in planning a vegetable garden is location. Choose a site with full sun, good drainage and no standing water, even after the heaviest rain. Keep the garden away from trees and shrubs, which may compete with vegetables for water, nutrients, and light.

If you cannot identify a location with full sun, leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach, require the least direct sunlight, only 4 to 5 hours. Root vegetables require 5 to 6 hours, and fruiting vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini, require at least 8 hours. No vegetables can grow in total shade.

Some other location issues are ease of access to water for irrigation, tools to maintain your vegetable garden, and proximity to your kitchen to quickly prepare or store your harvest. If deer or other wildlife are in the area you might also need to consider fencing to keep them from damaging your crops.

Once you've decided where the garden will go, it's time to choose which vegetables to grow. First, make a list of those vegetables you like. Next, put a plan down on paper. This will help you make the best use of space and will save time when planting by showing you exactly where to place your seeds and transplants. The plan should include the following information: garden size, space between rows and within rows, crops and varieties, planting dates, seeded crops, and transplanted crops. Consider planning for spring planting of early crops and later plantings for late summer and autumn harvest. Use the table included in this fact sheet to help you plan.

If possible, rotate your crops so similar vegetables are not planted in the same location consecutively. Remember to place your tallest growing crops on the north side of the garden so as not to shade lower growing plants. Also allow for good air movement through the garden. This ensures that moisture on plant leaves dries quickly and may lessen disease problems.

When choosing varieties, always look for ones with disease resistance. Although these varieties may cost more than some of the old standards, they more than make up for the cost with improved yields and less reliance on chemical controls. For more information contact your county Rutgers Cooperative Extension office (listed in the phone book under county government) or visit our website at

A good garden design will save you time and make the best use of limited garden space. Most importantly, vegetables grown under optimal conditions, along with the use of disease-resistant varieties, will result in healthy, high-yielding crops.

Vegetable Planting Guide
Vegetable Spacing (in.) Transplant or Seeds Planting Dates* Avg. Yield per 10 ft. of Row
In Row Btwn. Rows
Asparagus 18 60 Crowns Perennial 5 lb.
Beans, Lima, bush 4 24 seed Ma,Ju,Jl 6 lb.
Beans, Lima, pole 36 36 seed Ma,Ju,Jl 7 lb.
Beans, Snap, bush 4 24 seed Ma,Ju,Jl 6 lb.
Beans, snap., pole 36 24 seed Ma,Ju,Jl 7 lb.
Beets 3 15 seed Ap,Ma,Ju,Jl 14 lb.
Broccoli 15 30 transplant Ap,Ma,Jl,Au 8 heads
Brussels Sprouts 18 30 transplant Jl 5 lb.
Cabbage 18 24 transplant Ap,Jl 7 heads
Cabbage, Chinese 12 18 seed or trp. Ap,Jl 10 heads
Carrots 3 15 seed Ap,Ma,Ju,Jl 10 lb.
Cauliflower 24 30 transplant Jl 5 heads
Celery 6 18 transplant Ma,Ju 20 stalks
Chard, Swiss 6 24 seed Ap,Ma,Ju,Jl,Au 20 plants
Collards 18 24 seed Ap,Ma,Ju,Jl 10 lb.
Corn, Sweet 12 24 seed Ma,Ju 10 ears
Cucumbers 36 30 seed or trp. Ju,Jl 8 lb.
Eggplant 30 30 transplant Ma,Ju 20 fruit
Endive 12 18 seed or trp. Ap,Ma,Ju,Jl,Au 10 plants
Kale 15 18 seed Jl,Au 24 lb.
Kohlrabi 4 15 seed or trp. Ap,Ma,Jl,Au 20 bulb.
Leeks 3 15 transplants Ap,Ma,Au 40 plants
Lettuce,Leaf,Romaine 8 15 seed or trp. Ap,Ma,Au,Se 15 heads
Lettuce, Bibb 6 15 seed or trp. Ap,Ma,Au,Se 20 heads
Muskmelons 36 72 seed or trp. Ju 8 melons
Mustard Greens 12 15 seed Au 10 lb.
Okra 24 36 seed Ma,Ju 100 pods
Onions, dry 4 15 seed,trp.sets Ap 10 lb.
Parsley 6 15 seed Ap,Ma,Ju 20 bunches
Parsnips 3 18 seed Ap 10 lb.
Peas 2 18 seed Mr,Ap 3 lb.
Peppers 15 15 transplant Ju 12 lb.
Pumpkins 48 96 seed Ju 4 fruit
Radishes 1 12 seed Ap,Ma,Ju,Jl,Au,Se 60 roots
Rhubarb 36 48 crowns Perennial 20 stalks
Rutabagas 4 18 seeds Ap,Jl 15 lb.
Spinach 4 18 seeds Ap,Se 7 lb.
Squash, bush 24 48 seeds or trp. Ju,Jl 25 fruit
Squash, vine 36 72 seeds or trp. Ju 20 fruits
Sweet Potatoes 12 36 transplants Ju 12 lb.
Tomatoes 24 36 transplants Ma,Ju 50 lb.
Turnips 3 18 seed Ap,Jl 7 lb.
Watermelons 36 96 seed Ju 3 melons
White Potatoes 12 24 tubers Ap 18 lb.

*Mr=March; Ap=April; Ma=May; Ju=June; Jl=July; Au=August; Se=September

April 2020