My favorite project to do at the end of December and the beginning of January, is planning out the gardens and ordering the seeds. It gets me fired up and excited for the next growing season.
I like to start planning before the catalogs arrive
While I am waiting for the seed catalogs to arrive, it is the time to plan. I get out my graph paper pad, an erasable pen or pencil, a nice beverage and sit and dream about our next gardening season.
We have a lot of gardening space between our kitchen gardens and our market gardens for the farmstand. I do sell produce out of the kitchen gardens, it just helps me while planning if I name the gardening spaces.
When I map out and draw the gardens on the graph paper, I do not use exact measurements. I just roughly draw out the shapes the current beds are.
Kitchen garden plans
When planning out the kitchen gardens, I use blocks instead of long rows and I always plant north to south. Once I have my blocks planned out, I know when I go to plant, I will be planting in short rows. It is easier to keep weeded. I hope that makes sense. I like the look of blocks in our kitchen gardens.
As the years have gone by, I discovered a method of gardening called Companion Planting. Companion planting is where you put certain vegetables together where they will be happy and thrive and you keep others apart. I will write up a post about this method soon. HERE is a great post that explains companion planting and the methods used.
I keep this in mind while I am mapping out what vegetables to plant and where. I also keep in mind where I planted each type of vegetable the year before. Certain vegetables shouldn’t be planted in the same place twice. For example, you do not want to plant tomatoes where potatoes were grown the year before. Goes back to the companion planting and them being happy and thriving. I promise, it is not as complicated as it sounds and I do not want to discourage you from gardening.
So the first thing I do after I have my supplies ready, I write out a list of all the vegetables that I want to plant. If this is your first year with a garden, I advise you to take it slow and not overwhelm yourself. Start out planting just a few of your favorite vegetables and a few fresh herbs. The first time you cook with fresh herbs out of your garden, you will be hooked. Only plant what you know you will use. I have a confession, I hate cooking with Rosemary. I just do not like the flavor, but I do grow a large bush of it. There is two different ways I do use it. I like to dry it and add it to my soaking bath salts and I use it in the chickens nesting boxes.
NOw to the fun part: Planning the gardens
One of my favorite parts of gardening is the planning and mapping out the actual gardens. I recommend either an erasable pen or a pencil. You will want to move things around before you decide on their final placement.
Now you want to decide how much space you are going to allow each type of plant and how many of each plant you want. Keeping in mind how much space each plant needs to grow and stay healthy. For example, take the squash plant. Squash grow on vines and need a lot more room that the small little carrots. Your seed packet will show you the specifics.
planning the gardens
As you can see, I have allotted a majority of one of my kitchen gardens to onions, tomatoes and in the other gardens it is mostly corn. These are things that we eat a lot of, but I also sell a good amount of this produce in the farmstand.
Last year, I couldn’t keep peas in stock in the stand. Therefore, I will be growing a lot more this year. Each year, you will find that you should grow more of one item and less of another.
Journaling and keeping your plans available
I recommend that each year you save your written out garden plans, as well as keep a small journal about your garden experience. What worked and what didn’t. When you planted and the projected harvest dates. I buy a cheap yearly planner that has a monthly spread as well as a vertical, weekly spread. This gives me plenty of space to journal and document. You can also use a basic notebook, I just like to have the dated version. Find what works for you.
Now you do not have to do any of this. My mom is an avid gardener and she does not plan out on paper or use a journal and she is just fine. But, I do recommend at least writing out your plant and harvest dates. It will help you know when your vegetables will be ready to harvest and takes out the guess work.