Hopefully we’ve got our seeds ordered– or at least a list of seeds to order or purchase – and our heads full of the potential of this year’s garden. Which we all know is greatest this time of year. Oh the hope! *smile*
Now it’s time to plan were we’d like to put those seeds and plants. It’s terribly important to record where you’ve grown things in an organic garden, as crop rotation is one of the ways to keep diseases and infestations out of the garden. It’s also really nice to know what you grew that you loved or hated (which also, now that I think of it, is frugal, too- no use spending on things you didn’t like). Believe me, you do not want to grow something again that didn’t work for you- it takes a lot of time and effort and the end result needs to be worth it! Also, I like to have a record of experiments, like companion planting, to remember what grew well for me and with what companion.
However… one thing I’m not is detailed. I could never be counted on to record what’s happening in my garden month-by-month like those sweet garden journals encourage. And believe me, I’ve tried. So I’ve come up with a system that is relatively painless and sort of records itself using the Organic Vegetable Gardening Checklist I created plus a simple gardening binder. The planning pages look like this:
1. The overall design of my vegetable garden (which I shared here, too). It consists of:
- five 10-inch tall raised beds (roughly 4′ wide x 12 feet long)
- four larger beds edged with 4×4 lumber to grow corn, beans, and potatoes (about 9′ wide x 20 feet long)
- edge beds to grow permanent crops like asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries plus garlic since it is planted fall and harvested mid-summer.
- four dwarf fruit trees on the western side
2. For yearly planning, there are two pages that are updated each year showing the plant details which allow for rotation:
- one page for the traditional raised beds on a piece of graph paper
- another graph paper page for the larger beds (which isn’t pictured)
Using graph paper makes it easy to fill in the details of what I need to plant and where. I always refer to past plans so I’m rotating my crops and making sure things like tomatoes don’t get planted in the same bed twice in a row. It’s a good idea to make this plan before starting the vegetable seeds to know how many of each variety to start. This doesn’t matter so much for things like onions, but for tomatoes and peppers, it’s better to know the exact amount needed.
To store and easily use the plans I place both pages in a page protector which protects the pages (duh…) from dirt and water when I take the plans to the garden at planting time. Since this is the only record I keep, I want to make sure I’m able to read it next year!
What are some of your garden planning and organizing ideas?