A pair of simple tools will help to ensure success when planting a vegetable garden, according to Kansas State University horticulture expert Ward Upham.
He noted that a string line is commonly used to plant straight rows, while a planting board helps to make spacing vegetables within a row easier.
“Most gardeners make their own string line,” Upham said. “A very simple one can be made with a tent peg, a 12 inch piece of one-by-two inch lumber and some string.”
To make the string line, Upham suggests:
- Wind the string on the one-by-two. Notch the ends of the board, or drive nails near both ends to hold the string as it is wound.
- Tie one end to one nail (or tie between the notches) and the other end to the tent peg.
- When marking a row, drive the tent peg into the ground where you want the row to start.
- Mark the end of the row with a second tent peg and unwind enough string to stretch between them.
“Actually, you will want the string line offset where the plants will go by a couple of inches so that it isn’t in your way,” Upham said. “In other words, you will make your row next to the string; not under it.”
A planting board is a one-by-four inch board and four feet long. For planting, cut relatively deep notches every foot, and shallow notches 6 inches from each deep notch.
“Some gardeners also bevel the side opposite the notches so they can work the beveled end into the soil to make a shallow trench for seed,” Upham said.
When planting, he added, lay the planting board near the tent peg and align it with the string. Using the notches as a guide, “it is now easy to place plants or seeds at the recommended spacing,” Upham said. “Move the planting board with you as you progress down the row.”
Upham and his colleagues in K-State’s Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources produce a weekly Horticulture Newsletter with tips for maintaining home landscapes. The newsletter is available to view online or can be delivered by email each week.