With the knowledge that we are now nearing the middle of winter my thoughts have been turning towards planning to prepare for my new spring and summer gardens. I have to admit that while I don’t mind looking at various catalogues and even the odd seed stand, I do like all of the planning stage although it is one of the most import stages in gardening. Get the planning right and you’re on your way.
Though I have to say, having said this there comes a feeling of satisfaction and excitement when I’ve completed the plan and I am thoroughly happy with it. I find each year’s plan is different, depending on what I want to grow and also considering what I grew last year.
This year we are extending our vegetable garden, adding a new herb garden and I also intend making a start on our front garden which of course is ornamental. I am also going to see if I can sneak a few vegetables in-between the ornaments as it seems a waste not to utilize all the space I can for growing food we can eat, as much as I do love flowers and roses. Step
1 is of course look through your seed catalogues if you intend on growing from organic seed. I will eventually start saving my seed again but for now I either buy organic seeds or sometimes I also buy heirloom seeds from a seed saver.Step 2
when looking at your catalogues and gardening books determine just what you would like to grow in the coming season. If you’re planning both a spring and summer garden (which I do), you’ll have 3 categories of vegetables:
- Early-spring-planted veggies that you’ll harvest before summer (like spinach, peas, lettuce, etc.)
- Early-spring-planted veggies that you’ll leave in the garden through the summer — the “spring carry-over veggies” (like cabbage, onions, parsley, potatoes, cilantro, dill, chard, carrots, etc.)
- Summer-planted veggies (like tomatoes, squash, peppers, cucumbers, etc.)
I have a note book which is divided into categories myself although my DD has told me that I am old fashioned and it is time she drags me into the 21st century. She is going to prepare a spread sheet for me, something which I have thus far avoided but seems I won’t be doing for much longer.Step 3
for me this step is a bit backwards for some as I like to plan my summer garden first because I find it easier to plan it this way then my spring garden. To plan my summer garden, I decide on the location of both the spring-planted carry-over vegetables as well as the summer-planted vegetables.
I begin with deciding where I’ll put my tomatoes because in doing this, I’ll invariably be thinking about all my vegetables — not just the tomatoes. I like to put the tomatoes down on paper first, because this makes it easier to place other things.
I place the tallest vegetables (tomatoes, plus anything grown on a trellis) at the north end of each of the raised beds, so that they don’t block the sun from reaching shorter veggies.
At the same time I also consider the locations of last year’s vegetables, and try not to plant the same thing in the same place the next year. It doesn’t always work out that way (for instance, this year’s cabbage will be partially in the same spot as last year), but to me, that’s okay. It’s okay because I usually shovel out some of the soil and shift it around then add new soil which means it isn’t as important if I reuse the same bed for the same family of plants. Step 4
is when I plan out my spring garden based on my decision for the summer one. I make sure I have made a list of my carry over veggies so I can fill in any empty spaces with all my spring veggies which are generally those that I will harvest before my summer crop. These are things like lettuces, radishes, spinach, peas and so on. The last step or what I call –Step 5
is to check my list making sure that I know exactly what I am going to be planting and what I will need to buy in order to start growing the seedlings (if I am not buying them as such) and then I am done for this part of the planning stage.
Next on the list of things to do to plan for my new garden is of course planning my bed preparation and if I need to, planning the transition stage between my winter garden and my new spring/summer one.
Does anyone else have any suggestions or would you like to share how you go about planning your own gardens? We would love to hear about them. Maybe this time next year I will be able to share my adventures dealing with my DD's plan to initiate me in the use of spreadsheets
Happy Planning & Gardening
Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
- John Lennon