Planning to Plant

Goal: Develop a specific planting plan for garden

Objectives: Students will…

  • Apply information collected in vegetable research to garden planning
  • Use days to maturity to time succession plantings
  • Use plant spacing guidelines to determine numbers of plants to grow in an area
  • Accurately use scale drawings
  • Determine how many packs of seeds to purchase of each variety based on plan

Materials: completed Vegetable Research handouts, scale drawings of garden plan, colored paper, scissors, glue (or markers), seed catalogs

Advance Preparation

*Adapted from copyrighted material by The Food Project. Used with permission.

Time Estimate:1 class or more
10 min review garden plan, list crops with season and goal
25 min Bed planning teams design bed layout
5 min Calculate and submit seed orders
10 min share bed plans with peers

Planning to Plant

Instructional Plan

Review Garden Plan

Review in detail what the class has decided to grow and any goals regarding quantities of each crop (which will determine how much space is allotted to each crop). You may want to make a list of all the crops on the board, sorting them into spring, summer and fall crops so students are reminded to think about timing of planting. Unless you are scrupulous in your planning and execution, it is easiest to follow a spring planting with a fall planting, without trying to squeeze a summer planting in between. Summer crops usually stretch into mid fall and gardeners seldom want to pull out producing plants to plant the fall crop.

Bed Planning Teams

Depending on how many beds or planting areas there are, combine vegetable research groups into bed planning teams so each bed has two or more vegetables going into it. It is helpful to think a little about which crops grow well together and which do not as you put together bed teams. Some basic companion planting suggestions can be found at the end of this lesson plan.

Ask students to develop a detailed planting plan using a scale drawing of the bed. Make sure they are all using the same scale. They can cut out pieces of colored paper to represent each crop and move those around until they have a plan they like (or use markers). They should include the following in their plans:

  • Whether the plants will be started indoors and transplanted outside or direct seeded and when.
  • If direct seeded, they should indicate on their drawing the number of rows and how closely the seeds will be spaced.
  • If transplanted, they should indicate final spacing of plants.
  • Ask them to think through the placement of plants with regards to height and shading (tall plants should be placed north and/or west of short plants unless you want to shade the short plants).


Calculate Seed Orders

Ask students to use their planting plans to determine how many seeds to buy. For direct seeded plants they can calculate the number of seeds in each row times the number of rows and number of plantings. In the example above, there would be two four foot rows of carrots, planted twice during the growing season.

4 foot row x 12 seeds/foot x 2 rows x 2 plantings = 192 seeds

For seeds you plan to start indoors, order 2 to 3 times as many seeds as the number of plants intended to go into the garden. Most seed catalogs will include an estimated number of seeds per pack, which the students can use to estimate the number of packs they will need. Having extra seeds is not a problem as they will keep for future use. Have them practice filling out the order form and calculate the total seed cost for their bed.

Share Bed Plans

Arrange the bed plans into a tentative layout within the garden design. Have students share their plans with their peers and allow students the opportunity to review their goals and determine if this plan will meet the stated goals (Was enough lettuce planted? Will it mature in time for the Salad Party on May 20? etc). Make sure placement of beds makes sense in terms of plant heights and potential shading and view issues.

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