Every year my garden evolves and changes in some way, even if at the end of the previous gardening season I say it won’t happen, it still seems to. With things always changing, it means that my planting plan changes every year as well. To help with planning the garden layout and give me a good starting point for the year, I use a spreadsheet. This spreadsheet has two pages, one being a physical layout of my garden showing where things will be planted in the spring and the second is more of a list and schedule for when they will be planted.
It’s important to consider the topics we covered in the previous gardening post, found here. This gives us a better understanding of what you will consume and the volume. This is a great starting point to determine how many of each plant you will need to grow.
My garden consists of twelve raised beds that are all about three feet wide by twelve feet long. This means that from year to year a lot of my planting plan can be reused. In my layout spreadsheet, I’ve drawn out the raised beds to allow me to label what’s growing where.
With my raised beds, I grow in an intensive growing method, which maximizes the food I can produce from each bed. I also try to follow a loose crop rotation, by trying not to plant the same thing in the same bed two years in a row to reduce pests and let the soil recover.
Another thing to keep in mind when organizing your garden is the needs of the plants. I group my brassicas (cabbage, kale, kohlrabi) together so that I can cover with bug netting to manage the cabbage moth that we have in this area. Watering and sunlight are also other things to consider when choosing the layout of your garden. Also, things like peppers like to be grown closely together and hold hands, whereas tomatoes need adequate airflow to reduce the chances of blight.
The second part of my garden planning is more of a schedule or timeline. I use this mostly for planning when seeds will be started either indoors or outdoors. Working from the last frost day for my area, I can determine when seeds need to be started. For those of you that also live in Ontario, Canada, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) publishes this data on their website.
It can also be used for succession planting for shorter maturity plants depending on your growing season. For me in Ontario, Canada, this looks like planting beets or carrots after my garlic or onions are harvested. Another benefit of succession planting is for things that bolt or go to seed in the heat. I will plant things like lettuce or cilantro multiple times to allow for continuous harvests through the growing season.
This garden schedule is also used to check what seeds I have on hand or need to be ordered. I also record the varieties being planted.
When I start planning for the next year, I just copy last year’s file and use it as a starting point. To try and help you get started with your garden planning spreadsheet, I’ve shared a copy of mine below. This can act as a starting point and can be updated or modified for your needs. Enjoy and happy garden planning! I’d love to hear what you are planning to grow this year below.