By this time most years I’ve got my seeds ordered- or at least a list of seeds to order or purchase – and my head full of the potential for this year’s garden. Which we all know is greatest this time of year, right? Oh the hope!
After choosing seeds and varieties, it’s time to plan where I’d like to put those seeds and plants. And I always write this down for a few reasons:
- It’s really 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. 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 some of 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 garden binder/notebook contents include:
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
This page doesn’t change (unless we’ve made some major DIY improvement or change) – this is just the outline of our permanent garden features.
2. Past yearly planning pages: there are two pages that are updated each year to show the plant details which help me determine crop rotation and the number of plants I should have:
- 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.
3. Current year’s garden plan pages: To store and easily use the current year’s plans I place both pages in a page protector so I can take the plans out to the garden at planting time without worrying about dirt and water (as much). Since this is the only record I keep, I want to make sure I’m able to read it next year!
4. Other pages like seed orders and perennials I’ve planted. You can go here to see more of out I organize the rest of the binder.
What are some of your garden planning and organizing ideas?