Thursday, March 1, 2012

Garden Planning 101

I know, it's already March 1st and I'm JUST starting to plan the garden?!?!  This is the time that seeds should be coming in the mail - and I haven't even ordered them yet!

I'm on a delayed timeline this year for garden planning mostly because life is busy with other things, but I'm cutting myself a break since our growing medium won't be ready until mid-May, so our first round of "cold crops" (those edibles that don't mind a little drop in overnight temperatures) won't be able to go in this year anyway.

Since this is my first time growing on more than 150 square feet of earth, I decided to use an online garden planning tool to help:  This website is full of resources, articles, and online tools.  My favorite is their Garden Planner - an updated version of the graph paper schematic of the garden. The tools essentially allows you to paint your garden full.  You can choose from their selection of plants (including some non-specific "herbs" or "flower" options) and draw in your rows.  The program automatically spaces the plants according to their average spacing needs and counts how many of that plant you just "drew" into your garden.

Crop rotation is an important consideration for the organic farmer and Grow Veg helps with that, too!  By rotating crop families every three years, you lower the chances of passing soil-borne disease on to next year's crop.  It is also a way to avoid depleting the soil of nutrients over time - certain crops use up more of some nutrients than others and by rotating the plantings you give nature time to replenish itself before that crop is planted there again.  The Garden Planner tool color-codes the plants according to their crop family and if you sign up for the $25 subscription you can save your garden plans from year to year and know where you planted which crop families last year - and rotate accordingly.

Another great feature of the Planner, once you have drawn out your garden, you can see a Plant List which gives average planting and harvesting dates (based on your zip code) for each of the crops you've "planted" and the total count of those plants across your whole garden.  Here is a link to the numbers from my first attempt at a 2012 Garden Plan:

Plant List 2012

Keep in mind that we will be practicing Succession Planting in certain areas of the garden, so where there are tomatoes in June there will be spinach in October.  This will help us maximize production and yield (and, ultimately, profits).

No comments:

Post a Comment