After trying various ways of making and using a plan, I find the following the most convenient and time-saving. Like most simple things it is harder to describe than to do. On narrow strips of paper write the names of the vegetables to be grown in each row; the number of days they will take to reach usable size, and the approximate dates they should be sown. Use a different colored paper for each group of vegetables, blue for long season; yellow for short season, early sown; red for hot weather crops, and so on. When all are written, arrange and re-arrange them on a table until you have worked out a feasible plan like those illustrated.
It will help if you first place the long season, earliest sown crops at one side of the area at twice the unit distance decided on. Between these rows alternate the short season early kinds, the "companion" vegetables that will mature and be gathered in late spring or early summer while the others are still growing.
When the slips for these earliest sown kinds have all been placed, continue with the slips for the next series of sowings or plantings and arrange them similarly-the long season ones alternating with the short. Proceed thus until you have placed all the slips, with the "tender to frost" crops at the far side. In each case where a "marker," "partner" or "succession" crop is to be used, place the slip representing it temporarily on the main crop for that row.
After testing the workability of the arrangement by studying each row in relation, first, to what it is to contain during the whole growing season, and second, to the row on each side of it, you can make an actual plan from the slips, either by rewriting the names or pasting the slips on a large sheet of paper or cardboard. Because such a sheet is likely to be misplaced, is hard to handle out of doors, and is almost sure to blow away on a windy day, a good scheme is to draw the outline of the garden to scale on a large bread board and rule parallel lines the unit distance apart to represent spaces between rows. If done with waterproof ink this need not be done again for several years. Then you can paste the named slips exactly as you have arranged them on the table, using rubber pasting cement if possible, so that they can be removed without tearing if need arises. A hole bored in the middle of one side will make it possible to hang the plan up out of the way when not in use. The smooth, hard surface is good to write on when you want to make notes to guide your future operations. Later you can copy both plan and notes into your garden record book for permanent reference.
Crop rotation is less practicable in small gardens than in large scale farming. Nevertheless, whenever possible, group the plants that require similar cultural treatment and shift them about from year to year.
The following groups can succeed one another in different seasons (or parts of the same season) according to convenience; do not let one crop of a group follow another of the same group.
1. Beans, garden peas.
2. Corn, tomato, eggplant, pepper, ground cherry (or husk tomato).
3. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, celery, chard, collard, cress, dandelion, endive, kale, kohl-rabi, lettuce, mustard, New Zealand spinach, orach, spinach.
4. Cantaloupe, cucumber, gherkin, okra, pumpkin, squash, watermelon.
5. Beet, carrot, chicory, endive, garlic, leek, parsley, parsnip, radish, rutabaga, salsify, scorzonera, shallot, turnip.
Try to have a following crop as different as possible from the preceding one. If the two are botanically or culturally related (as mustard, cabbage and turnips), insects and plant diseases that attack the first are likely to be more troublesome on the others. Also, if a series of, say, root crops is grown, they tend to use up certain kinds of plant food, so that the last in the series may be partially starved.