Planning Your Garden
Planning your garden and writing things out on paper helps make planting your garden much easier. My garden planning for the next year usually starts before my current garden has been harvested. I am constantly taking notes, making lists of what vegetables I would like to try, and things I would do differently the next year. Seed Catalogs usually come out in December, when mine show up in the mail I sit down with my notes and start the planning process. Everyone has a different process that works for garden planning, mine is a simple process with 3 steps.
Step 1: Make A List
– Decide what vegetables you would like to grow in your garden this year.
-This is when I go through my seed collection that I must see what seeds I need to purchase this year. If this is your first garden or you aren’t a seed hoarder such as myself, you can skip to the next step.
– Look through seed catalog(s) to find the specific types of each vegetable you would like to try.
– At our farm we don’t have a predetermined garden size, so we decide the total area based on the amount of space needed for the number of plants. If you have a specific garden area already figured, you will need to determine the amount of space you have for each type of vegetable and then figure out how many plants you will need. Also, don’t forget to figure in space between rows in your predetermined garden area (I use 1.5 ft or 2ft. spacing between my rows).
This also is affected by the type of garden you will be planting, a square foot garden, a wide row garden, single row garden or another variation. For example, this year I am using a combination of wide rows and single rows.
When you know what what is going to be planted and how many seeds will be needed, You can order seeds now or wait to buy them closer to planting time.
Step 2: Plant Placement Research
When deciding where to place my plants, it is a good idea to research which vegetable plants will benefit or harm one another. I have found that this is very helpful when you a planning a square foot garden but can also be used when planting rows as well. This can be done on google or for a visual I use Pinterest.
Start this step by getting your vegetable list out and opening your favorite search option. Search Companion planting (I have found that this gives the best results.)
Look for a chart, graphic, or article that is most helpful to you and start going through your list of vegetables to find what placement will best suit each one. I like to use charts that list my vegetable with a list of companion vegetables and what vegetables should not be planted nearby.
Once you have an idea of where your plants should be in your garden it is time to move on to step #3 the garden layout.
Step 3: Garden Layout
The garden layout stage is when you get to see what your garden could look like. I have created layouts using a computer, but I prefer to use graph paper and pencil.
- Before starting the layout plan, it is helpful to have the list of vegetables, the plant placement information and the dimensions and spacing information.
- Draw out the total area that was figured out during the winter planning stage. (When I am using the graph paper 1 square is equal to 1 square foot.)
- Use the spacing information to place rows and walking path space.
- Wide Rows – 3ft
- Single Rows – 1.5ft
- Walking Space – 1.5ft
- 1 ft between the garden and fence
Remember to look at the plant placement information as you decide where certain crops will go.
- Label everything! I like to label the dimensions, row width, length and extra walking space for future use. Label the crop placement as each row is created on the layout. I also like to write down the number of plants that will be in each row.
The layout can be as simple or as creative as you want it this is your plan. Some layouts are color coded or have tiny plant drawings, but I like to keep my simple so that it is easy to read and so there is no confusion when I look at the layout later.
Your garden plan can be simple, detailed, color coated or a combination of different things. What ever your plan looks like remember that the information and design are there to help you when it is time to plant your garden. Make sure that it is something easy for you to understand and use!
I am always looking at and learning about other planning processes. Please share what you do to plan your vegetable garden?