Last year was just a fantastic year. I had some great successes, some dismal failures, and some things I simply did better in 2014. One clear improvement was my planning, and that was because being disorganized is stressful! One way I got organized is how I get organized at work. EXCEL SPREADSHEETS!!
One table I set up last year was for calculating when to generally expect a harvest based on when the seeds were sown and what type of plant it was. It took some time to enter the data from a planting guide, but this table below references it to calculate when I should see sprouts. I can decide on the number weeks to wait before transplant, and will give me a date. I can also enter a plant and a date to see if it would be a good time to start it. I also added the 75% growth column for fall planting, so that I can get my plants mature enough to harvest in the winter. What is highlighted in olive-green are seeds that I already have started for the 2016 garden.
This is something I just recently worked on, and I used information from Nikki Jabbour’s book The Year Round Vegetable Gardner. She gives lots of examples of when to start seed based on last Spring/first Fall frost dates for your area. I wanted (no, I NEEDED!) to build something that would tell me what I needed to do each week. Life gets too busy and I didn’t want to have to think about everything to do. I didn’t want to go back and forth to the book and try to find each plant. Again, it took some time to enter the information, but below is my first attempt at a master plan. I want to add other chores to the list, such as an organized weeding approach for each part of the garden, when to side dress with fertilizer, etc. I think this will be a work in progress, as I have already started Collards and the plan says do that end of February! (I am planning on putting them, along with the broccoli and cauliflower in containers in the greenhouse and see how they do…)
I did this last year, but the garden was so big and my experience so small, I just did not know how to plan well. This year, I feel really good about the plan. I will be incorporating succession planning with most of the vegetables, based on my better understanding of how much we eat through as a family of seven. I am also incorporating a technique I saw a local gardener use a few years ago. He first raked over soil from one side of a bed and planted potatoes there in early spring. As the potatoes grew, gradually he raked the soil back over the potatoes. In the empty half of the bed, level with the potatoes, he planted okre. I hate okre, and will be direct seeding bush beans instead. I plan to plant the potatoes early and harvest as “new” potatoes. So, by the end of May, I will harvest the potatoes, and then mid-June plant the next wave of bush beans. That is the plan, anyway. I am going to use the same strategy for my beds with peas, then plant the succession of tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. Hopefully this will stretch the harvest out through out the summer and I don’t get all my fruit at once.
In the fall of 2014, I added the whole western garden using some time off of work. From the start, I knew I wanted raised beds for the whole area. The western part of the yard, where my first garden was planted, and where I expanded a little, was not raised. I did not know if I wanted to invest the money into the wood for the whole garden, or if it was really worth doing. But I have seen over the last two years a general erosion of the soil from it, and so I have decided to invest in raised beds. Also, I had orientated the beds running North to South before I understood East to West is better, as it tracts with the sun, so I wanted to switch them eventually. I am also expanding a bit into the middle of the yard, as this gets the best sun year round. It is definitely a work in progress, but I am confident I will complete the beds by the end of February.