This article is part 2 in a series about getting ready for gardening season, you can find part 1 here – Making Sure you have the Right Tools and Resources
I am not a very organized person, never have been, but I have found over the years that a bit of organization can easily make the task of planning the garden easier but it can also make it more cost effective and efficient.
Planning a garden demands a certain amount of organization and planning. I don’t care if you are planning a small garden in containers on your porch or a huge garden with as much gardening space as any one person could hope for. Planning will allow you to make the most out of the space you plant, and with the ever rising cost of food, this is always a good thing.
- To get organized I start with pulling out all of my seed catalogs and a notepad. If you do not have any seed catalogs yet, you better hurry! Or alternatively you can use the Internet for this step, but it is not as much fun!
- My goal here is not to make out seed orders just yet, instead I make two lists, 1) is the list of veggies I know I am going to grow, 2) Is a list of new veggies I would love to try to grow. (I make a mental list every year of what worked the year before, what I would like more of, and what not to grow next year.) I also try to choose something new every year to try.
- The fun part is to sit there leafing through the seed catalogs making a list of the things I want to grow this year. This is the perfect cure for spring fever and with a good cup of tea and the right music it makes for a wonderfully relaxing afternoon. Make a list of the seeds you would like to get, planning the garden and ordering seeds comes later. Right now you just want to create a firm plan on what you want to plant.
- Go through all of your supplies and make a list of anything you will need to buy, this includes, pots, dirt, fertilizer, fencing, any landscaping you want to do, as well as any other amendments you want to put in your garden.
- Make a list of any of the new projects you want to take on this year, it might include improving the garden space you already have or it may mean expanding. You might want to learn more about organic gardening or you may want to use mulching this year, after last year’s droughts.
- Take a look at your compost pile if you have one and decide whether it is going to be ready for spring planting. Get it turned if you can get to it, you still have a couple of months or more to get it ready for spring planting.
- Map out the area you intend to plant, measure it to see how big it is, and keep track of those measurements because you will need them later.
- Take note of the sun, what part of your garden gets full sun, what part gets partial sun. Believe it or not, lots of vegetables love partial shade, while other vegetables demand full sun, knowing what goes where can greatly increase your yields.
- Now it is time to plan your garden, and once your garden is planned you can order your seeds. Unless you have a very small garden, I strongly advise that you plan your garden before you buy seeds. Nothing is more frustrating than realizing you did not get enough seeds and you cannot get anymore.
I have been doing this for 25 years, I don’t really think about planning too much anymore, in fact I have to think hard just to write this, because I do not think about my late winter / early spring routine much anymore.
You might have a lot of questions or need ideas about how to plan your garden, you can ask your questions here on the comment section of my blog, or you can visit one of a number of websites to help you with answers for all of your questions. One of my favorite sites for getting organized is Grow Veg, it is an online garden planning site that has a number of tools to help make planning your garden even easier. They even have apps for your iPhone and iPad.
Emily Allred says
Flipping through the catalogs is so much! I couldn’t believe how many I got this year. It sounds like you have your routine down pat, whereas I am still learning. In fact, this is the first year that I am actually planning, rather than just jumping in willy willy.
I was wondering, do you keep track of your return on investment at all? Like, how much you spent on prep and material in a given year and how it compares to the market value of the food you produced in that season?
Sometimes seed packets come with way more seeds than I need. How long can I store extra seeds for?
If you have a vacuum sealer, or know someone who does, you can put your seeds in a vacuum seal bag, put them in the freezer and and freeze indefinitely. Actually any air tight seal will work but it has to be air tight, I find that the vacuum seal is the most convenient to use.
Hmm, interesting! I don’t have a vacuum sealer but I may look into getting one if they are useful for freezing other food things.
Most definitely Rose, the bags are a bit expensive, but I always buy them at the wholesale club, and then cut them a bit bigger than I really need, because most of them can be washed and reused. I use them for my herbs, sun dried tomatoes, dried fruits, and any of my veggies and fruits that I freeze. It really extends the life of things in the freezer and offers an air tight option for long term storage of herbs.