Vegetable crop planner

Information sheet

Use this planner to find out about the length of time common vegetable crops take to mature and harvest from the point at which they were sown or planted.

  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s):

Sowing and growing vegetables

It is useful to know how long different vegetable seeds take to germinate, to avoid unnecessary worry that seeds are not going to grow and to realise that you just have to be patient. Remember, however, that germination is dependent on soil temperature and moisture so if the soil is very cold or dry seed won’t germinate.
It is also essential when gardening in school to plan your sowing so you can harvest the crops in school term time. Here is a useful guide that should assist you with your planning. 

Speedy crops can be ready for harvest in one term, 3 to 13 weeks (up to three months) after sowing or planting;
Beetroot                           Carrots
Cucumber                        French beans,
Lettuce                             Marrows & courgettes
Peas (spring term),          Potatoes (first early)
Radish                             Spinach

Medium-term crops are sown or planted in one term to harvest in the next term, 14 to 25 weeks (three to six months) later.
Broad beans                 Cabbage (early) from seed and plugs,
Onion sets  (spring)      Peas (autumn sown)
Sweet corn                   Tomatoes.

Slow-growing or long-season crops are sown or planted in one term to harvest in the next term or even the following term, 26 to 52 weeks (six months or more) later.
Broccoli                           Onion sets (autumn planting)
Brussels spouts              Parsnips
Leeks                              Potatoes (main crop)           


Planning the spacing for your vegetables

The spacing of crops is determined by the ultimate height and spread of the crop. There is the space between the seeds or plants along the row and then the space between rows. Space is needed for weeding along and between rows, to create good air circulation and to allow each crop to grow to its determined size. Some crops in school may be harvested when they are young – smaller sweeter carrots and beetroot for example, baby salad leaves – rather than fully mature size, so spacing could be closer. Make a measuring stick to help you plot out vegetable spacings in the garden using the tables below. You could make this a fun activiy for all your children to do. 

Crop spacing in traditional open allotment style growing

Read the seed packet and gardening book information to determine the distance along the row and between rows of crops.
A general rule of thumb to calculate the space required between different crops is to add the recommended row spacing for each crop together and divide the total by 2. For example parsnips and peas growing next to each other: add the row spacing for parsnips – 30cms to the row spacing for peas – 90cms = 120cms. Then divide by 2 = 60cms spacing between a row of parsnips and peas.

Crop Names cm along row cm between row
Broad Bean 23 45
Carrot thin to 10 30
Courgette 90 120
French Bean 10 45
Garlic 15 30
Leek 20 30-38
Lettuce 15-25 23-38
Onion set 10 30
Pea 5 (triple row) 60 (height of plant)
Potato 30-38 38-50
Pumpkin 90 150
Radish 1 15
Spinach 15 30

Crop spacing in raised beds.

When growing in raised beds it is possible to plant a little closer than recommended on seed packets and gardening books. This is because there is no need to allow for access paths for harvesting – all crops are harvested from the edge of the bed. Also there is a greater depth of soil so plants grow well in a smaller space.
A general rule of thumb is to allow a 20 per cent reduction in spacing. Use the rule of thumb of adding the spacing distance (at a 20 per cent reduction) of the 2 crops and dividing by 2.

Crop Name cm along row cm between row
Broad bean 20 20
Carrot 5-10 20-25
Courgette 75 100
French bean 10 35-40
Garlic 10 25
Leek 10 25-30
Lettuce 15-25 30
Onion set 10 25
Pea 5 50
Potato 30 30
Pumpkin 75 120
Radish 1 10
Spinich 10 15

Hints and Tips

Use the length of the trowel, dibber or plant labels as a guide for planting out young plants.
Hand Trowels are a useful measuring tool when out in the garden, check the length of the handle. The metal end section alone is usually about 15 – 20 cms long. Gardeners can use the trowel as a quick planting and spacing guide.
Other tools such as a dibber, measuring stick and a standard plant label can also be used to show children the actual distances needed to sow or plant crops. 

If your children don't know what some of these vegetables look like you can use our vegetable spotter guides to teach them. Find one for alliums, beans, legumes and brassicas here. Find our other one for curucubits, roots, salad crops and solanums here

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