Sunday, March 1, 2015

working on the garden plan

So my weekend goal was to get my garden plan together.  I have gotten a start and have been doing a bunch of research.  It has evolved into a much bigger project than I originally anticipated.  But I have made some progress and a bunch of what I am doing I hopefully will only have to do once and then just some tweaking from year to year.  So here is what I am doing.

Master crop rotation plan:  I have chosen to use a four year crop rotation.  Each of my potential plants will be placed into one of four 'families' with other like plants.and each of the families will be assigned to a fourth of the available garden rows.  In my big garden the south side is set up (mostly) in permanent no till rows.  There are wood posts installed every five rows and I was working on applying numbers to them last year.  They were stick-on numbers so we will see if they remained stuck through the winter.  My four families group the plants according to how they affect the soil, what they remove or what they add.  I plan to have every fourth row be of the same family.  I am not sure if the ideal plan will have equal rows from each family but that is where I am going to start.  The book that I am reading had suggestions for which plants should go into each group and which order they should follow in the rotation.  I have set up a spreadsheet with a twelve year rotation for the families (3 four year cycles) and what is left is to figure out is which plants in the family will go in which rows that are assigned to the family.  It sounds kind of like elementary school but I am making flashcards of each of my plants and on the back I am putting the family that they have been assigned.  Next I will look at each family's flashcards and assign a row for them.  Some plants might need more than one row and some might require only a part of a row.  I am also looking at companion planting and succession planting to see if more than one crop can be grown in a particular row.

Master calendar: Part two of my garden plan is to put together a calendar that will incorporate dates for sowing seed indoors, when to sow seeds or plant transplants outdoors and perhaps some information about when to expect  harvest.  So far I am thinking that my master calendar will be set up with date information including weeks before and after last spring frost date and weeks before and after first fall frost date.  The draft that I created and am trialing is a full sheet of 8.5x11 paper punched to fit into a three ring binder.  It will be a file in the computer that will print for a working hard copy.   There will be a page for each week.  It will have a to-do list for the week and the rest of the page will be a kind of a journal for handwritten notes.  Later I can take the journal notes and transfer that information into the computer and tweak the to do list so that when it prints for the next year it will contain updated information.  I envision that each year around the new year I will print a new calendar for the year, punch holes and pop it into the binder.  The binder can go with me to the garden for hopefully up to the minute notetaking.  That may be a fantasy that is not going to happen but I am hoping to be a better record keeper.

I have been giving some thought to a second binder or perhaps a computer file that has a page for each row or raised bed and it could contain a history of what has been planted there each year, what soil amendments have been added or cover crops planted.  If done correctly this would be an ongoing record of each planting space.  A third binder or folder could contain records about each crop and detail variety, packet size, seeding information, yields, any issues, whether we had transplants to sell at the farmstand and if they sold, if we had crop to sell at the farmstand and if they sold.  We could document how many plants were in a row and if that was the right amount.  We could document what we would do the same, what we would do differently, plant more, plant less, did we have the right amount for canning?  It would sure make it easier to plan our seed order each year.           
I have been using this book as a resource as well as various online sites.  Right now tons of garden bloggers are sharing their seed starting strategies so there is a lot of information to sort through and evaluate. 

Think spring!


  1. I am thinking spring...I hope that makes the temps rise and the snow melt. So far, no luck! Your plan sounds good to me, farming is quite an undertaking. I am happy to live it vicariously through you. Of course, it doesn't taste as good! ;)