Step 6 - Plant Your Vegetables Right - Illinois Vegetable Garden Guide (2023)

Much of the success of your garden depends on when and how your vegetables are planted.

(Video) Step 6: Plant Your Vegetables Properly

When to plant. How early you can plant depends on the hardiness of the vegetables and the climate in your area. Certain vegetables can withstand frost while others cannot. In Table 3 vegetables are classified as hardy, half-hardy, tender, or very tender. This information along with the date of the average last 32 freeze in your area will help you to determine safe planting dates.

Planting by the moon is a favorite topic for discussion among many gardeners. There is no scientific evidence to support planting by the moon; planting studies have shown no relation between the different phases of the moon and good production of crops.

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How to plant. There are no magic tricks or difficult techniques in starting seeds or in setting plants. But there are some simple steps you should follow to insure success.
Step 6 - Plant Your Vegetables Right - Illinois Vegetable Garden Guide (1)

Seeds. In starting seeds in the garden, follow these directions:

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  1. Use disease-free seed.
  2. Mark out straight rows to make your garden attractive and to make cultivation, insect control, and harvesting easier. To mark a row, drive two stakes into the ground at either edge of the garden and draw a string taut between them. Shallow furrows, suitable for small seed, can be made by drawing a hoe handle along the line indicated by the string. For deeper furrows, use a wheel hoe or the corner of the hoe blade. Use correct spacing between rows.
  3. Hill or drill the seed. "Hilling" is placing several seeds in one spot at definite intervals in the row. Sweet corn, squash, melons, and cucumbers are often planted this way. Hilling allows easier control of weeds between the hills of plants. "Drilling," which is the way most seeds are sown, is spacing the seeds by hand or with a drill more or less evenly down the row.
  4. Space seeds properly in the row. The number of seeds to sow per foot or hill is suggested in Table 2. Space the seeds uniformly. Small seeds sometimes can be handled better if they are mixed with dry, pulverized soil and then spread.
  5. Plant at proper depth. A general rule to follow is to place the seed at a depth about four times the diameter of the seed. Cover small seeds such as carrots and lettuce with about to inch of soil. Place large seeds such as corn, beans, and peas 1 to 2 inches deep. In sandy soils or in dry weather, plant the seeds somewhat deeper.
  6. Cover seeds and firm soil. Pack soil around the seeds by gently tamping the soil with your hands or an upright hoe. This prevents rainwater from washing away the seeds.
  7. Thin to a desirable number of plants (see Table 2) when they are young. Remove the weakest plants. Do not wait too long before thinning or injury will result from crowding.

Table 3 : Planting Chart - Timing

Vegetable Hardiness Recommended planting period for central Illinois (b) Time to grow from seed to field (c)
For overall
Asparagus Hardy Mar.15-Apr. 15 .
Bean, bush, lima Very Tender May 10-June 15 .
Bean, bush, snap Tender Apr. 25-July 15 .
Beet Half-hardy Apr. 10-July 15 July 10
Broccoli Half-hardy Apr. 10-May 1
July 1-15
. 4-6
Cabbage Half-hardy Apr. 10-July 15 June 10 4-6
Carrot Half-hardy Apr. 10-July 15 May 15
Cauliflower Half-hardy July 10-20 . 4-6
Chard Half-hardy Apr.10-June 1 .
Corn, sweet Tender May 1-July 9 .
Cucumber Very Tender May 10-June 15 . 4
Eggplant Very Tender May 10-June 15 . 8-10
Endive Half-hardy Apr. 1- May 1
July 1-Aug. 15
July 10
Garlic (spring planted) Hardy Mar. 25-Apr. 15 Apr. 1-10
Garlic (fall planted) Hardy Sept-Oct (see note e)
Kale Hardy Apr. 1-30
July 1-Aug.1
July 10
Kohlrabi Hardy Mar. 25-Apr. 5
Aug. 1-10
Aug. 1
Lettuce, leaf Half-hardy Mar. 25-May 15
Aug. 15-Sept. 15
Muskmelon Very tender May 10-June 15 . 4
Mustard Half-hardy Apr. 1-May 10
Aug.15-Sept. 15
New Zealand spinach Tender Apr. 25-June 15 .
Okra Very tender May 10-June 15 .
Onion, from seed Hardy Mar. 25-Apr. 15 Apr. 1
Onion, from plants or sets Hardy Mar. 25-May 1 Apr. 1
Parsley Half-hardy Apr. 10-May 1 .
Peas Half-hardy Apr. 10-May 1 .
Pepper Very tender May 10-June 1 May 10 8-10
Potato Half-hardy Apr. 1-15
June 1-10
June 1
Pumpkin Very tender May 20-June 10 June 10
Radish, spring Half-hardy Apr. 5.-June 1
Aug. 20-30
Radish, winter Half-hardy Aug. 1-15 Aug. 10
Rhubarb Hardy Mar. 25-May 15 .
Rutabaga Half-hardy May 1-July 1 June 15
Spinach Hardy Mar. 25-Apr. 15
Aug. 15-30
Squash, summer Very Tender May 10-June 15 .
Squash, winter Very Tender May 20-June 1 June 1
Sweet potato Very Tender May 10-June 1 May 15 6
Tomato Very Tender May 10-June 1 May 15 5-7
Turnips Hardy Mar. 25-Apr. 15
Aug. 1-15
Aug. 1
Watermelons Very Tender May 10-June 1 . 4
  1. This classification is used to determine earliest safe date to plant vegetables. Hardy vegetables can be planted as soon as the ground can be prepared. Half-hardy vegetables can be planted as early as 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last 32 freeze in the spring. Tender vegetables should be planted from the time of the last average 32 freeze to one week later. Very tender crops should be planted 2 to 3 weeks after the last average 32 freeze. See Fig. 2 for average dates of last 32 degree freeze in Illinois.
  2. For southern Illinois March-June plantings can be made approximately 2 weeks earlier and July-September plantings 2 weeks later than for central Illinois. For northern Illinois March-June plantings should be about 2 weeks later and July-September plantings about 2 weeks earlier than for central Illinois.
  3. Time required to grow plants from seed before setting in field. This period will vary depending on temperature and other conditions under which plants are grown.
  4. Use plants. See page 20 for discussion on planting depths for plants.
  5. Throughout much of North America with the exception of the very hottest and coldest areas, garlic is best planted in the fall just as many of the hardy spring bulbs are. As far as timing, it should be done before the soil freezes. In most areas this planting date is sometime in late September through October. Planting at this time allows the cloves to have a chance to root and grow a shoot to the soil surface in the fall. Then in the spring, growth commences immediately when the frost goes out of the soil allowing lush growth. If planting is delayed until spring planting should be done as early as possible (March-April). This will be dependent upon whether the soil can be properly prepared. A note about spring planted garlic. Garlic from spring plantings does not come close to making quality heads of garlic as a fall planting will. Garlic planted in spring has to mature in the hotter, dryer conditions of summer thus lowering the quality quite a bit.

Step 6 - Plant Your Vegetables Right - Illinois Vegetable Garden Guide (2)

(Video) Step-by-Step Guide to Vegetable Gardens : Vegetable Gardening 101

Transplants. Some vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, pepper, sweet potato, and tomato, are usually started in the garden by means of transplants. You can buy these plants or grow them yourself indoors. Follow these directions when setting plants into the garden:

  1. Transplant if possible on a cloudy day or in the evening.
  2. Handle plants with care. About an hour before transplanting, thoroughly water plants and soil in the containers (pots, bands, flats, etc.). Roots of plants in flats should be blocked out with a knife to get as much soil as possible with each root. Carefully remove plants without disturbing the roots. Keep a ball of soil around the roots. Keep the roots moist at all times when they are out of the soil.
  3. Dig a hole large enough so that the transplanted plant sets at the same depth that was growing in the container. The only exception to this rule is if you have tall, spindly tomato plants. They can be set on an angle in a shallow trench. Cover the stem with soil roots will form along the stem.
  4. Use starter solution to get plants off to a fast start. Mix an all-soluble fertilizer high in phosphorus (e.g. 1-52-17 or 10-50-10) at the rate of approximately 1 tablespoon per gallon of water. When you transplant, place about 1 cup of the solution around the roots of each plant.
  5. Cover the roots with soil and firm the soil tightly around the plant.
  6. Protect plants from heat, wind, or cold if necessary. Plant protectors (sometimes called hot caps) made of paper or plastic are available to lessen trouble from frost in the spring. Homemade devices can be made from baskets, boxes, or jars. Do not leave the protector over the plants longer than necessary. If it gets warm during the daytime, remove the protector or open it so that the plants receive ventilation.

Choose a Step

  • Step 1 - Make Good Use of Your Location
  • Step 2 - Plan Your Garden Layout
  • Step 3 - Grow Recommended Varieties
  • Step 4 - Obtain Good Seed, Plants, Equipment, and Supplies
  • Step 5 - Prepare and Care for the Soil Properly
  • Step 6 - Plant Your Vegetables Right
  • Step 7 - Keep Down Weeds
  • Step 8 - Control Pests
  • Step 9 - Water Properly
  • Step 10 - Harvest at Peak Quality
(Video) Companion Planting Made Easy! How To Guide


What vegetables should not be planted by each other? ›

Don't Grow These Vegetables Next to Each Other
  • Beans and Onions.
  • Tomatoes and Corn.
  • Potatoes and Sunflowers.
  • Asparagus and Garlic.
  • Celery and Carrots.
  • Eggplant and Fennel.
  • Cucumber and Rosemary.
  • Lettuce and Garlic.
9 Jul 2020

In what order should vegetables be planted in a garden? ›

Start With Cool Weather Plants First

Plant cooler weather vegetables first, such as broccoli, cabbages, onions, lettuce, spinach, carrots and beets. These crops will fare well in the cooler spring weather but growth rapidly deteriorates as it gets warmer.

How do I layout my vegetable garden? ›

As a general rule, put tall veggies toward the back of the bed, mid-sized ones in the middle, and smaller plants in the front or as a border. Consider adding pollinator plants to attract beneficial insects that can not only help you get a better harvest, but will also prey on garden pests.

What vegetables can be planted together chart? ›

Companion Planting Chart
Type of VegetableFriends
CabbageBeets, celery, chard, lettuce, spinach, onions
CarrotsBeans, lettuce, onions, peas, peppers, tomatoes
CornClimbing beans, cucumber, marjoram, peas, pumpkins, squash, sunflowers, zucchini
OnionsCabbage, carrots, chard, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes
12 more rows

What should you not plant next to tomatoes? ›

Companion Plants To Avoid Growing Near Tomatoes
  • Brassicas. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi can stunt the growth of your tomato plant because they out-compete them for the same nutrients. ...
  • Corn. ...
  • Fennel. ...
  • Dill. ...
  • Potatoes. ...
  • Eggplant. ...
  • Walnuts.
10 Sept 2022

What should not be planted next to peppers? ›

Peppers – Pepper plants make good neighbours for asparagus, basil, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, oregano, parsley, rosemary, squash, Swiss chard, and tomatoes. Never plant them next to beans, Brassicas, or fennel.

How should you arrange your garden? ›

Arrange the tallest plants in the back, the medium-sized plants in the center and the lowest growing plants in the front to create a foreground, middle-ground and a background in your garden. It may seem simple, but creating 3 rows to form a foreground, middle-ground and background is very effective.

What should you not plant after onions? ›

Onions are light feeders so after these plants have yielded their crop of edible bulbs, you should be planting heavy feeders like tomatoes, pumpkin, or winter squash, followed by soil builders like peas and beans. What is this? Don't plant onions, shallots, asparagus, and legumes after you've harvested your onions.

What do I plant next to tomatoes? ›

Companion Plants to Grow With Tomatoes
  1. Basil. Basil and tomatoes are soulmates on and off the plate. ...
  2. Parsley. ...
  3. Garlic. ...
  4. Borage and squash. ...
  5. French marigolds and nasturtiums. ...
  6. Asparagus. ...
  7. Chives.
7 Jun 2021

Can I plant tomatoes and cucumbers next to each other? ›

Tomatoes and cucumbers can be grown together successfully, and there are actually some benefits to planting them together. Both plants have similar growing needs when it comes to sunlight, soil conditions, and watering. And if space is at a premium, interplanting the two will allow you to get more out of your garden.

How do you stagger a vegetable garden? ›

With staggered planting, instead of planting, for instance, all of your radishes at once, you sow a few seeds every week or two over the course of a month. By staggering planting dates, you extend the harvest and keep it coming in at a reasonable pace.

What should not be planted together in garden? ›

Other commonly believed plant incompatibilities include the following plants to avoid near one another:
  • Mint and onions where asparagus is growing.
  • Pole beans and mustard near beets.
  • Anise and dill neighboring carrots.
  • Cucumber, pumpkin, radish, sunflower, squash, or tomatoes close to potato hills.
13 Apr 2021

Can tomatoes and peppers be planted together? ›

The reality is that because the two have similar growth requirements, they can in fact be grown quite successfully together. Diseases common to both tomato and pepper include Verticillium wilt and bacterial spot.

What vegetables will cross pollinate with each other? ›

Vegetable Cross-Pollination Guide
Vegetable CropWill Cross-Pollinate With
BroccoliReadily crosses with any Brassica oleracea species: Cauliflower, Cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, romanesco broccoli, kale, collard greens, broccoli
Brussels SproutsSee: Broccoli
23 more rows

Can I plant 2 tomato plants next to each other? ›

“Tomatoes require plenty of room to grow well,” write the UC ANR advisors. They recommend spacing tomato plants two feet or more apart.

What should you not plant near cucumbers? ›

Plants to Avoid Growing with Cucumbers
  • Brassicas. Plants in the brassica family (like brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and kohlrabi) have a mixed relationship with cucumbers. ...
  • Melons. ...
  • Potatoes. ...
  • Sage. ...
  • Fennel.
7 Jun 2021

Should tomatoes be planted near peppers? ›

Bell peppers and tomatoes make good neighbors because both crops improve each other's flavors. In addition, bell peppers and tomatoes repel nibbling pests.

What happens if you plant your peppers too close together? ›

If peppers are planted too close, they'll grow into their neighbors. This reduces air circulation around the plants and the foliage won't dry off as quickly after watering or rain. Wet foliage is an invitation to disease.

Can you plant peppers right next to each other? ›

Yes, you can grow sweet peppers and chili peppers side by side. You often hear the tip that it's important not to grow hot peppers (chili peppers) and sweet peppers (bell peppers) in the same vegetable bed.

Can peppers and cucumbers be planted together? ›

Vining vegetables like cucumbers actually make perfect companions to bushing veggies like peppers. They enjoy similar growing conditions and can grow together in about the same amount of space as a single plant.

What is the basic pattern in garden design? ›

Grid lines drawn at 45 degrees can be used as a guideline to design the garden. Rectangular themes are the most popular and widely used. They are adapted to give a formal look to the garden.

How do I Group plants in my garden? ›

There are two basic rules when arranging plants in the beds: 1) space the individual plants so that they touch each other when they reach their mature size, and 2) overlap the masses of plants and connect them so that they flow without space between them. Avoid gaps or large open areas between masses.

What grows well next to peppers? ›

Herbs: Herbs, especially oregano, dill, cilantro, chives, and marjoram, are good companion plants because they grow close to the ground, so they won't compete with peppers for space. Their aromatic ground cover can protect against garden pests that can damage your pepper yield.

What crop should follow onions? ›

If you have some winter squash, Pumpkin, Swede, Winter Cabbage, Chilli or Tomato plants in pots, these can be planted after onions. Your climate will determine how long you have left in your growing season and that will affect your choice of plants.

What do you plant after peppers? ›

Consider a schedule in which you plant legumes like beans or peas the first year, followed by peppers, tomatoes, eggplants or potatoes. A root crop other than potatoes, such as beets or carrots, can follow.

What are the worst companion plants for tomatoes? ›

What are bad companion plants for tomatoes? Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and other brassicas. Brassicas, including broccoli, cabbage, rutabaga, and cauliflower, will compete for nutrients with tomatoes, as both brassicas and tomatoes are heavy feeders.

What should I plant between tomato rows? ›

Best Companion Plants

Clovers: Crimson clover and red clover help tomatoes in various ways. Both plants provide nitrogen to the soil. In addition, they both deter weed growth and attract pollinators like bumble bees and other beneficial insects.

Why tomato and cucumber Cannot be eaten together? ›

Thus, most of the times, the combination of cucumber and tomato is advised to be avoided. Another reason is that they both have a completely different way of digestion, Hence, they must not be consumed together as this combination can lead to acid formation and bloating. "

What happens if you plant 2 tomato plants together? ›

Tomatoes planted too closely together may be more likely to develop problems, such as: Disease – A lot of plant diseases flourish on moist leaves. If tomatoes are planted so closely together that sunlight and air can't dry out the leaves, the plants will be more likely to develop harmful diseases.

Can 2 tomato plants share a cage? ›

You can have two dwarf tomato plants in a 24-inch wide cage. But you can grow only one determinate/indeterminate tomato plant in a 24-inch wide cage. You want to keep at least 24-inch space between tomato plants. This helps avoid overcrowding and competing for resources.

What Epsom salt do to plants? ›

Epsom salt – actually magnesium sulfate – helps seeds germinate, makes plants grow bushier, produces more flowers, increases chlorophyll production and deters pests, such as slugs and voles. It also provides vital nutrients to supplement your regular fertilizer.

What should I add to my soil before planting vegetables? ›

Compost helps sandy soils hold more moisture and nutrients, and it makes clay soils lighter and better drained. Compost also adds trace nutrients needed by plants. Work a two to three inch layer of compost into the soil with a rototiller or shovel at least a month prior to planting.

How should vegetables be spaced out? ›

Allow 2- to 3-inch spaces for carrots, bunching or green onions and radishes. Beets, garlic, leeks, spinach, onions and turnips need 4 to 6 inches of space between them on all sides, while celery, leaf lettuce and Swiss chard require 7- to 9-inch areas.

How do you layout a garden cutting? ›

Give your cutting garden a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Prepare the planting area, making sure it is loose and weed-less. If possible, take time to work in compost and all-purpose organic fertilizer. The most efficient way to set up a cutting garden is to grow your flowers in rows, as you would vegetables.

What is row spacing in a vegetable garden? ›

For most tillers, rows should be at least 36 inches wide. This way you can go back between the rows and lightly cultivate for weed control until the crop starts to fill in between the rows. For most crops such as beans, corn, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, okra, peas and squash, 36-inch row spacing would be the minimum.

What can you not plant near lettuce? ›

Try to avoid growing lettuce next to broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, or kohlrabi—while some varieties of lettuce may help these cabbage-family (brassicas) crops to grow, these plants have particular root secretions that can prevent lettuce seeds from germinating.

Can you plant different vegetables next to each other? ›

Bringing a wide variety of plants into your vegetable garden can have many benefits. Planting certain vegetables next to each other can encourage both plants to thrive. This unique process is known as companion planting. Companion plants have many potential benefits for their partner plant counterparts.

What happens if you plant your vegetables too close together? ›

Plants that grow too close to each other compete for the same sunlight, water and soil nutrients. The first effect seen is competition for light. Overcrowded plants begin to grow upward to receive light, rather than developing a fuller, bushier silhouette.

Is coffee grounds good for tomato plants? ›

Coffee grounds contain around 2% nitrogen as well as varying amounts of phosphorus and potassium which are all very important for the growth of tomato plants. By mixing some coffee grounds into the soil below your tomato plants you're introducing these nutrients that the plants need to thrive.

How do you arrange vegetables in a raised bed? ›

To get the maximum yields from each bed, pay attention to how you arrange your plants. Avoid planting in square patterns or rows. Instead, stagger the plants by planting in triangles. By doing so, you can fit 10 to 14% more plants in each bed.

How often do peppers need to be watered? ›

We recommend watering after the soil has dried somewhat. During the longest hottest days of summer, that may be every day. During cooler weather and during spring and fall you may only need to water them every 2-3 days. The best bet is to feel the top layer of soil to see if it's moist, if it is, wait before watering.

What vegetables should not be near each other? ›

Onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots can stunt the growth of plants like pole beans and peas. You also don't want to plant onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots near each other because if one crop comes down with pests (onion maggots) the rest will also fall victim, like a bad case of head lice.

What can you not plant near zucchini? ›

Avoid planting zucchini and summer squash with all other vining plants which include cucumbers and sweet potatoes as well as pumpkins, winter squashes, and melons.

What produce should not be next to each other? ›

Why You Should Never Store Onions with Potatoes—Plus, Other Fruits and Vegetables That Don't Go Together
  • Onions, Apples, and Potatoes.
  • Melons.
  • Cauliflower, Apples, Kiwis, and Onions.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Using Your Crisper Drawer.
  • Ethylene Producers vs. Ethylene Sensitive Produce.
5 Aug 2022

Can you grow different vegetables next to each other? ›

Bringing a wide variety of plants into your vegetable garden can have many benefits. Planting certain vegetables next to each other can encourage both plants to thrive. This unique process is known as companion planting. Companion plants have many potential benefits for their partner plant counterparts.

Is it OK to plant vegetables close together? ›

Just like people, our plants have friends too. Planting your veggies with others they like or don't like growing with will help increase yields, decrease disease and can limit pests. Any time you can partner plants together and get those results it's what we call a win-win!

Why should you not plant cucumbers near tomatoes? ›

Both tomatoes and cucumbers do not grow well when planted near potatoes as they crave the same nutrients and compete for them. Also, they may be susceptible to similar diseases. For example, the cucumber mosaic virus attacks both cucumbers and tomatoes causing a significant reduction in fruit production.

Can cucumbers and tomatoes be planted together? ›

Tomatoes and cucumbers can be grown together successfully, and there are actually some benefits to planting them together. Both plants have similar growing needs when it comes to sunlight, soil conditions, and watering. And if space is at a premium, interplanting the two will allow you to get more out of your garden.

Can I plant carrots next to tomatoes? ›

Carrots: Plant carrots near tomatoes to help loosen soil. If planted too closely, the carrots may not get as large as they should, but they will still taste good.


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