Gardens of California ® LLC 
Bridget Guzzi, Owner


Francis Coulter 1943

Following are sections from A Manual of Home Vegetable Gardening by Francis C. Coulter, 1943

How to successfully raise vegetables in the home garden and help preserve our land and national health.

Planning the Garden   

Planning the Garden

A Manual of Home Vegetable Gardening by Francis C. Coulter

1943 Blue Ribbon Book

How to successfully raise vegetables in the home garden and help preserve our land and national health. 

When we mean to build, we first survey the plot; then draw the model" (King Henry 1V)

The first step toward a good garden is the making of a plan, and it is one of the most pleasant exercises of the gardener’s year. It is begun well in advance of sowing time, so that supplies may be ordered, flats and frames prepared and sown, and the soil properly fitted; all in good time, so as to avoid that scramble which is the prelude to disappointment.

    The autumn sun may be strong when preparations are made for cool-weather crops to be grown in winter, but spring, as its very name indicates, is the universal beginning of the season. It begins to stir within the gardener on the arrival of the new catalogs, and then though a winter wind may be howling as he reads them, emulation surges in him before the sap rises in the tree.

     Many considerations go into the planning of even a small garden, the soil, climate, the preferences of the household, the gardener’s ambition … and the degree of his forgetfulness of the hoe.

     The vegetable garden should be close to the kitchen door, and to make it as small as possible is a better aim than to make it as large as possible, with due regard, of course, to what is to be grown. There is often a temptation to lay out a larger area than the gardener can conveniently cultivate, but a small garden well worked may be quite as productive as a larger one that is just beyond the gardener’s limitations. Certainly it will be far more pleasing to the eye – an aspect of vegetable gardening, which is not to be neglected.

     The plan should be so worked out as to make full use of whatever sized area is decided upon and to avoid the waste of land, money, time and effort that are involved in growing more than is necessary of any one item. By selecting carefully what is to be grown, by planting a little at a time rather that a whole row, and by using varieties of differing maturity, it should be the aim to provide continuous supplies throughout the growing season and into the winter, not a superfluity of something one week and nothing of anything the next week.

     In deciding which vegetables to grow, it is well to remember that some give small return for the space they occupy, but are usually plentiful at the stores, for example, cucumber, pumpkin, sweet potato and watermelon, even potato for any but a large garden. Some are difficult to raise successfully, as celery, okra, in the more northerly states or parsnip in the more southerly. On the other hand some are seldom available at the stores yet are not difficult to grow, as chard, mustard, cress, dill, chive, and other herbs; or are far better in quality and flavor when fresh picked as peas, asparagus, corn, leaf lettuce, and endive.

     A useful rough guide in planning a succession to early vegetables is the old rule of thumb that root plants follow leaf plants and vice versa. This does not cover all species .... corn or tomatoes, for example, which may follow almost any early crop.



The Small Vegetable Garden

The little garden though but 20 feet square, is arranged for a dozen vegetables by intercropping and succession, which will furnish good potherbs and simple salads throughout the season. If worked with care it will provide a small family with much of its vegetable supply, many a treat in flavor and quality, and many a bonus of vitamins. The rows can be closer together when the soil is well prepared. Corn takes too much space for a small plot; tomatoes also need a lot of space but they yield better returns and are easy to raise. Some might deny the peas a place for it cannot be claimed that, foot for foot, their poundage is high, but peas are only at their best when fresh picked, and their harvest is early enough to a later vegetable in the row. Head lettuce and Swiss chard are “cut and come again” vegetables, worth their place in any garden.  For other rows there is a wide range of choice.

The Medium Vegetable Garden

For a family of four and occasional guests this 30’ x 40’ garden will afford vitamins, salads, and vegetable dishes galore, with additional health- giving properties in its opportunity for exercise to a spare-time gardener and his household satellites.

     It might almost be called a packet garden, since a packet of seed will serve to sow most of the rows, and it is so arranged for succession plantings that there will be no idle space throughout the growing season. Corn, as the tallest crop is placed at the back; the salad vegetables and herbs towards the front, which is presumed to be nearer the kitchen.

     Whether there is room for three rows of corn in a garden of this size is for individual taste and judgment, but the space is not wholly given over to this luxuriance; pole beans may climb the stalks or vine squash wind its way around them.

The Large Vegetable Garden

THE LARGE GARDEN This is a plan of 50’ x 100’ and is a modification of a Connecticut home from 1941. It is ample for a family of 6 or 8 and would provide sufficient employment for half the week of a working gardener, though it can be successfully tended by the head of a household, a business man who is enthusiastic enough to give all his spare time to it, aided by occasional help and sufficient tools.

     This plan is set into quadrants, so that paths may be used for easy access. The rows run approximately north and south; the perennial plants are back on one side, the tall corn on the other, and the centerpiece of the plan is a plot of herbs about eight feet in diameter with a pole as pivot. Adjacent to the corn is a planting of Lima beans designed for succotash and with them a trial of edible soybeans. The kale border, half Dwarf green and half Variegated, is ornamental as well as useful, and is nearly offset by its kindred across the path. The space is there for the gardener to grow what will fit into his food plan.


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