All gardeners enjoy thumbing through a catalog on a cold winter evening. Then they follow their browsing with the not-so-enjoyable job of planning their garden with pencil and graph paper.
If juggling vegetable heights, harvest dates, and productivity is not your idea of fun, then let a computer do the work for your. Northrup King Seed Company, for example, offers a computer garden-planning program, called a ''Smarter Garden Plan,'' and thousands of gardeners have already taken advantage of it.
Here's how it works:
You tell the computer the size of your plot and soil type, and whether you weed by hand or tiller. Then select one of six available garden shapes and choose vegetables, indicating the number of adults you want to feed.
The computer printout arranges your selections row by row with path widths in between for weeding by hand or machine. It tells you how many seed packets you'll need to plant and the yield to expect in pounds.
The program is based on accumulated Department of Agriculture data for 41 vegetable varieties planted by the row system. It also provides spring and fall planting dates for successive plantings of short-season crops.
Compugarden, another planning service, is for those who have given up on the traditional row system of planting. The data in this system are based on the popular French intensive method of sowing gardens in beds.
The Compugarden plan is also based on separating your garden into two plots, one for vegetables that take an entire season to reach maturity and another for short-season crops which you plant more than once in a growing season. This way, of course, you won't disturb the long-season plants by scratching around near their roots so that you can plant more radishes.
Computers can eliminate the waste of seeds and the waste of surplus harvest.
Row-system plans are available from the consumer products division of Northrup King Seed Company, PO Box 1615, Minneapolis, Minn. 55440. Price: $3.95.
Order bed-system plans from Compugarden, 725 Richmond Ave., Silver Spring, Md. 20910. Price: $12.50.