Correct spacing is vital to growing healthy, productive vegetables. Overcrowded plants will not produce a good harvest, and will quickly deplete the nutrients in your soil. In addition to appropriate spacing, planting in rows will make it easier to remove weeds and harvest your ripe vegetables later on. Planning your garden ahead of time will ensure that your vegetables have plenty of room to thrive, and that your veggie patch is both organized and easy to maintain.
Determine how much space each plant will need. Spacing guidelines are listed on seed packets or seedling labels, or you can use the Vegetable Planting Guide in "Planting a Home Vegetable Garden" at extension.iastate.edu.
Roughly measure your garden with a yardstick or measuring tape to determine how much space you have. Take into account what portion of the garden gets full sun, and how much of the garden you want to plant with vegetables.
Make a diagram of your garden so you know where each plant will go. If you are planting several different types of vegetables, decide which vegetables will go in which row, and how many rows will fit in your allotted space. Be sure any plant that bears fruit (like tomatoes, squash or peppers) is in a full-sun location, getting at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. If part of your garden is shaded, consider planting a leafy vegetable like cabbage in the partly shaded area. Verify that each plant has enough space; when in doubt, leave extra space between plants rather than overcrowding. Use graph paper for a clear diagram that is easy to draw and understand.
Use a garden hoe to draw your lines in the dirt before you plant your seeds. Designating each row before any seeds are planted will ensure that your rows are straight and your spacing calculations were correct. Double-check that your rows are appropriately spaced, and place each plant or seed in its designated spot.