How do you plan your garden?

ribbit32004October 26, 2008

Computer, notebook paper, graph paper?

Grasping at straws here and looking for a better way to plan. I've got it mapped out on paper, but as you know, not everything is planted at the same time and some things you plant twice or more and some will stay on for what it seems is forever and still others you plant after some other things are done....I don't know if I need to color code with dates, draw a new map for every 3-4 weeks and color code new plantings/vs old or what!?

I suppose I'm driving myself crazy over nothing, but I really want to get a better way of organizing. The man had some of my garden drawing papers in his hand and asked if I needed them. At first, I was indignant. "Of course I needed them!" I fussed, "I made specific references on them which I had changed and put new notations which weren't working so I changed them again which worked perfectly until last week when I gave up on that paper to start a new one, so I guess no. I don't need it. Throw it out."

My memory is not the best. I can't rely on keeping up with planting dates and what will be planted where when what's done just by memory. Looking to see how you guys plan, draw, and keep up with planting dates and limit my use of little pieces of paper that float around the house and such before I get divorced.

Anyone know of a garden calendar out there that looks like graph paper in the middle and edged with lines on the ends? Something like that would be optimal!!

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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

ribbit - I do mine on the computer, with autocad (a drafting program). I usually make 1 drawing with color codes for cold weather/warm weather crops. It allows me to make changes at any time, then print a copy for taking to the garden with me at planting time. I have already got my 2009 planting drawing finished, and can put it on here if you'd like....Here's the way this year's drawing looked....link below.

EG

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 26, 2008 at 10:02PM
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ribbit32004

I love autocad. Some of the kids work with it in drafting class. It's amazing what they can do and it's actual experience with the tools they'll use in the future.

How did your okra do at 1/sq ft?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 6:04PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

Ribbit - yeah, it's really cool, the only thing I really use it for is to make electrical drawings at work sometimes. The okra did excellent at 1/sqft. I'll do it the same way next year. Also, I loved the spacing for zucchini and yellow squash - at 1 per 2sqft. I had to work with it a little bit, but was able to just coil the vines as they grew. Next year I will make them grow vertical....Yay!

EG

    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 8:32PM
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pls8xx

For those using standard 4 by 8 beds, maybe this will help ...

Download the grid graphic and use a paint (mspaint will work) or a photo editor to complete the plan. Or one could print the grid and use a pencil.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 9:20AM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

pls8xx - Now that's pretty cool! I'm sure some people will appreciate that....Thanks!

EG

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 9:25AM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

I don't have autocad, so I did mine in excel. It was hard to set up but I did it last winter so no problem with timing. Now I can just save different sheets for each planting. I'm not a pen and paper person if I'm going to keep what I write.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 10:30AM
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carolynp(z7)

Plan? What is this "plan" you speak of? lol
I do mine in excel, also. I don't do mine as a visual, more as a list. Last year I took the amount of space I had and just mathematically fit it in. Next year I'll have a visual. I just finished the spreadsheet with the list. I like to keep notes on what produced and how. Since that's more important to me, that's what I plan, lol.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 12:35PM
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jbest123(Zone 5 PA)

I use AutoCAD and will save as BMP, then import into Paint Shop Pro or Photo Shop, depending on my mood. Through out winter, I will plan my garden and come up with an elaborate scheme. Come planting time in the spring, I do not think of my scheme and plant things where I think they will do well. Hey, works for me.

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 5:35PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

John - I like to just save mine as the default .dwg file, and print from there. I like the print options better - especially the "window" feature. Like you, I spend several hours perfecting the layout, then change it a little bit at planting time. I probably spent about 40 hours on last year's drawing. Yeah, I know.......it's ridiculous. All of that trouble over a few veggies....sheesh!

EG

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 5:55PM
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duhast

Uh.....

I use the "Mullet" method.

Short in front, long in back.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 3:42PM
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pls8xx

I tried that method too. My wife asked what the bare spot in the middle was.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 4:08PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

Ha! That's funny stuff, from both of you....

EG

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 5:09PM
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ribbit32004

That's so many different shades of wrong; it's hysterical.

I got some graph paper last night and plotted out one graph for spring/fall and another for summer plantings. It REALLY helped me put things in perspective. Then I made a chart of EVERYTHING I needed to purchase, when, and what I was going to use it for. I put a spot on there where I could list prices as well if I wanted to.

Computers are great, but I still love paper and pencil. I'm probably the only person that still keeps a checkbook register by hand. I may just drive into town and go to a bookstore to see about an actual journal...I like the idea of comparing years to years in the same format and then I could schlep it around with me like a security blanket.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 7:29PM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

OMG too funny! And I can relate to both the short infront and bare in the middle comment. Just had to comment. You made my day!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 11:00PM
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bettyinga

I made a simple grid on the computer using Word and the tables menu and then typed in the names of plants. I like the grid that was posted above too so I may copy that one and give it a try.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 4:23PM
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ribbit32004

I need the paper trail. There's just something about putting pen to paper that makes everything seem real to me.

I found a garden journal on-line that offers loose sugestions on what to write and blank reverse pages. It's spiral bound so it can fold flat. I've filled it in for last summer and this fall and put all of my pictures in it as well so it's turning into more of a scrapbook. I figured I can shrink my drawings on a copy machine and shrink my calendar in a word processing program and secure them on the blank pages. I'm really, really happy with the result so far. I took some pictures today so when I can, I'll post them with the fall garden pictures on EG's other post.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 7:16PM
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ribbit32004

Here's the journal I found:


I'm pretty happy so far!!!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 8:23PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

ribbit - I like that idea! You can take it everywhere, and don't have to wait for it to boot up. lol

EG

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 9:52PM
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anniesgranny(6b)

I really like that, Ribbit. I saw another one on a blog that I liked even better, but it cost $39.50 plus shipping, and I could buy a lot of notebooks for that!

Granny

Here is a link that might be useful: Pricy Garden Journal

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 10:42PM
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greenbean08_gw(PNW)

ribbit,
I'm with you...
I planned my garden on graph paper. Even used some colored pencils to help keep track of what are cool season and warm season.
I also keep a paper checkbook register. I used the computer for a couple years, but went back to paper. I used electronic statement from the credit union when we moved, and when I called to get the paper ones back, they were quite confused as to WHY I would want to do that. Since that's the main checking account, it needs to be properly tracked, and I just wasn't doing it as often as I should. I needed the paper ones back. I do have other, less often used accounts for various reasons, and I do use the e-statements for those.

I put my graph paper plan inside a plastic document sleeve with a piece of paperboard, and it comes to the garden with me at planting time.

PS, I am still under 40 : )

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 1:26AM
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ribbit32004

Granny, that book is beautiful as well! I like the book mark string.

Hey, greenbean....that wouldn't be calling me old, now would it? :)

It's not that I don't know how to use computers. I know Excell and keep all of my records in Access and create charts and flow diagrams for my kids in Inspiration and PPT. There are just some things today that still need that pen to paper to make them feel like yours. Glad you understand!

Just for the record, I'm under 40 as well. Actually, under 35.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 5:41AM
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anniesgranny(6b)

Young whippersnappers. I'm pushing 70, and everything I do is on computers. I think this laptop is the 7th. or 8th. one, still actively using three of them (one desktop and 2 laptops). I plan my gardens on virtual graph paper with Paint, Photodeluxe and Irfanview. You see, I change my mind every week or so, and it's easy and cheaper to do it that way...not to mention all the trees I save by not wasting graph paper!

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 11:27AM
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Katxena(z7 MD)

I plan my garden in Excel. I adjust the row height and column width so that the cells are roughly square, then I outline my bed sizes with dark lines. I treat each cell as a square foot, and I type whatever I plan to plant in it, and my planned spacing for example, "9 beets, grid" (means 3x3 rows of beets) or "5 turnips, cross" (means 2x2 rows of turnips, with one in the middle).

I make one plan for spring and one for summer. Fall is catch-as-catch can.

On the spring plan, I might type something like "5 turnips, cross, 4 radish intercrop" (this tells me to plant the 5 turnips in a cross shape as described above, then to plant 4 radishes around the turnips in the empty spaces -- the radishes will be harvested before the turnips need the space) or "9 teton spinach, grid follow with lettuce" (which tells me to replace the 9 spinach plants with 9 lettuce plants -- I don't bother working out when this transition will take place).

I don't bother typing notes to link the spring and summer plans, but I do record the earliest planting date I want to use on the summer plan, so it will look something like "sungold May 15". Then I just plant the sungold tomato in that spot anytime after May 15 that the spot opens up from spring crops. This is helpful with things like beans, which I succession plant two squares at a time. So two squares will say "9 dragon's tongue beans, grid June 1" and the next two will say "9 dragon's tongue beans, grid June 15".

I do spend a lot of time trying to coordinate things between the two plans, like planning to put early beans in the spinach squares (since spinach is harvested early) and later beans in the broccoli squares (since broccoli is harvested later), but most of that is just in my head. I don't try to write any of that down.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 11:46AM
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carolynp(z7)

Well, you guys have inspired me. I'm going to spend a couple of hours today (rain, rain, rain) doing the math on the spring planting. I have the farmer's almanac at my side. I just hate to do it because it reminds me of the enormous gulf between what I want and what I have space for, lol. BTW: the 2009 almanacs are on sale now finally.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 5:07PM
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greenbean08_gw(PNW)

ribbit, I wasn't calling you old, I just realized as I was typing, one might think from what I was saying, that I am much older than I am.

I'm under 40, but not under 35...sigh...

For now at least, I'll stick to my pencil & paper. I do feel more connected to the plan somehow when I draw it out by hand.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 3:14AM
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ribbit32004

Greenbean, I totally knew what you meant. I just found it humorous that you came to the same conclusion I had. Besides, with all of those graphing calculators out there, someone needs to keep graph paper companies in business!!!!
:)

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 5:40AM
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foo_smedley

I use blank 4x4 and 3x6 grid tables in Microsoft word and pencil my design in to figure it out.

I do the permanent design in OpenOffice draw. It's free software and works very well.

Here is a link that might be useful: OpenOffice

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 3:31PM
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novice_2009(zone 6b)

ribbit, love the garden journal. i'm a pencil and paper kind of person too - yeah, i'm also under 35, and yeah, i balance my checkbook by hand. so what?
LOVE the mullet thing. I actually did lol.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 1:33PM
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jengc(7)

I took the grids in the back of the book (you know...THE book the SFG book) and copied them off. Then I cut them up and design them like my garden and tape it together. I think I have made 75 copies and redo them at least once a month. In January, I bought one of those book calendars and wrote on the weeks Start (seeds); plant; and harvest. Of course all my dates are wrong (radishes in 3 wks!? lettuce in 4? SERIOUSLY?) but it was great to be able to look at it and know what seeds I need to be starting that week.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 4:46PM
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ribbit32004

Thanks, Novice! You know, since I've started the blog, I really haven't kept up with the pen and pencil for journaling, but I know for sure I'll stick with it for graphing out the garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Corner Yard

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 5:34PM
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