I am sharing my garden planning tips to help those just starting out. Looking at what the main “kitchen” garden looks like at the moment, it can be hard for some to even think about planning the planting layout of your garden(s). I order my seeds and then plot out where and what to plant. For me, it is by the inch. laughing…
Garden Planning Tip #1
I designed my planning tools to suit my needs. I find this garden planning tip to be my most important number one for plotting out how I am going to plant in the garden beds. I make plotting sheets for each garden bed with a graph to get the most out of my space. After printing out the sheets I designed, I begin mapping out what will be grown in the beds. I use the previous year’s sheets to help me remember what-was-where so I can “rotate” the beds.
Raised garden beds do not have quite the same issues of replanting in the same place every year, like bringing a vegetable’s particular pest, (or a possible disease), to that bed to munch that vegetable to tatters. It does not mean it does not happen, either. Rotating helps the soil stay healthy. Each type of vegetable feeds or takes from the soil. The rotations help the soil stay healthy.
When you plant with a lot of different vegetables in one box, there is not the same issues of an area being fully depleted of a nutrient. Oh yes, I still make a organic fertilizer blend I dig into each bed. This procedure takes me days because I also look for various crawlies and remove them while digging down a good 12″ or so.
We have problems with cutworms, June bug and mormon-cricket larva. If you have chickens, (I no longer do), you can serve them up a feast. (ugh) You will learn to no longer get grossed out by finding a huge, pinkie-thick, gooey, ugly larva in your hand after a short period of “fluffing” the soil and digging through your nutrients. An old plastic sour cream container half-filled with water takes care of these critters. I dump them in an area I know birds frequent. They seem to still like them though they are dead. Do not linger on that visualization on a full stomach.
The book shown was my garden planning book I used when the gardens covered over 1/2 an acre of land all together. I sewed the folded pages together to keep them tidy. I use a pencil. It is easier to rearrange when you can erase easily. I used to color in the vegetable “spots”, but I found that does not erase well if I change my mind.
With the smaller garden this year, I printed out the bed-planning sheets in full-size instead of booklet size, plotted out the beds, then I stapled them together into a “book”. I no longer need tabs and all that the way I used to need with the larger gardens.
I also printed out the seed information book so I could sew the pages together for ease of use. I make each type of seed its own spot to easily include all information I need to care best for that item. I added smiley and frowning face lines to note what companion vegetables and herbs goes well with that particular vegetable.
I found companion planting works well and is factual for my gardens. Some vegetables die off near a certain other vegetable or produce little to no fruit. Peas and beans shrivel near the onion family, for instance. There is a ton of information online listing companion and adversary plants.
This current book does not include the seed package information yet because the seeds have not arrived. Sadly, my mailed-in order went on holiday and never arrived. It may be in a mail truck that was parked after the heavy snows we had last month. I had to cancel the check, (you get a huge fee for that! Why?) and used the old plastic-demon to be sure the order was placed. I detest using plastic, but it is what it is.
Okay, you may be wondering why I do all of this “work”? Besides getting me into the gardening-mode, lifting my spirits that spring is coming and giving me something productive to do while cooped-up inside, I end up with a happy, productive garden in the end. Yes, some years are not as good as others. That is very normal. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are full of beans.
It is like selling at craft shows- some years everyone wants a mug, to the point that you sell out in one day and everything else moves slowly. Then the next year, you have a ton of mugs and all everyone wants is a dragon night-light. Rinse and repeat. It is Nature. It moves in waves. It is better to ride each wave then fight them. So you end up with 3 years of green beans and 6 months of carrots. Next year, it is the opposite. It is the nature of growing your own food. Enjoy it. You will learn 100 new ways to serve all of the green beans, trust me. laughing…
I almost forgot! For those who are not into what they call “woo-woo”, skip this. I am hearing from a lot of gardeners that they do as their grandmothers used to do, put each seed into their mouths before planting. It gives the seed the knowledge of “who” it is growing for. Everything is alive, including your seeds and water. I plant way too much to do this and some teeny-weeny seeds, like lettuce or celery, would stay stuck on the tongue.
I think I found a way to get the same results! Before going out to plant, I am going to give love to a glass of water, swish it around in my mouth and spit it into a container. While planting, I have some plastic pipettes. I am going to drop some of my “backwash” on the seeds after poking them into the soil. It cannot hurt. I talk to the soil and seeds as I plant anyway. This extra bit of “love” I would not mind doing.
I hope I helped you all out with planning your vegetable garden. I found giving as much care to the planning as to the care of the garden, I reap a lot of rewards. Besides! I get to draw (badly) and play while making all of my plans take shape. Take care y’all! May your gardens give you back as much as you put into them.