Planning your garden is an important step that many gardeners neglect. Get yourself some paper, make a map, and plan out your garden this year.
If you haven’t already started planting your garden, I’m sure you will be soon. Please take a few minutes before you start this year to create a written garden plan that includes a map. Then take that map and include it in your garden journal so that you have it for the next several years. For me planning your garden is one of those tasks that can be completed in the dead of winter. It’s nice to think about my summer garden when the world is covered in snow!
This often over looked step in the gardening season can save, you time, prevent diseases, and make for an overall more productive garden. There are 6 things you should be planning for in your garden.
The how and whys of planning your garden.
An annual garden plan that includes a map is an important tool for your garden. This map lets you see what was planted year to year. As good as you think your memory is, your garden will begin to blend together in you mind after a few years. It’s important to have last years map to help with this years planning. This map helps with many of the other planning tasks outlined below.
Plan for succession planting.
The next step in planning your garden is to plan for succession planting. Succession planting in its simplest for is just figuring out a planting schedule that will allow the most use of your garden space. As one crop matures you should plan for another to take its place.
Here are a few examples:
Peas, this early spring crop is usually finished up by mid June in my garden. This leaves a whole bed and a whole summer to deal with. You need to plan what will follow in this bed.
Short season crops like spinach or lettuces can be followed in the summer with warm season crops.
Plan for larger warm season crops like tomatoes having a faster growing cool season companion. Depending on the bed size I often plant either beets or broccoli on the south side of the bed where I plan on planting my tomatoes. These cool season crops don’t take up too much space and will be close to maturity when I set out my tomato seedlings. They will finish up growing and be harvested before the tomatoes start to take over the beds.
Plan for crop rotation
The next step in planning your garden is to plan for crop rotation. Rotating your crops through your garden beds is a vital practice for every gardener. Even those of you with small gardens should practice crop rotation.
Crop rotation is too big of a subject to try to tackle in this post. But I have a three part series I wrote on crop rotation that will help you out with that topic. The first post in that series can be found here.
Plan for companion planting
Planning your garden includes making a plan for companion planting. The growth and production of many plants is enhanced if they are closely partnered with other plants. Learn more about this interesting practice by reading this post by my blogging friend.
Plan for Shade
The amount of sun your garden receives each day will vary a lot based on the time of year. Shadows from trees or buildings, particularly those on the south side of your garden are much longer in the spring and fall. So you need to plan accordingly. Leafy greens can do well in the shade so plan those crops for the shady spring spots and then replace with sun love crops as the shade recedes
Plan for seedlings
If you grow your own seedlings be sure to take a little time to plan out the dates you want to get them started. Remember that most veggie starts need between 6 to 8 weeks before they are ready to transplant. To learn more about growing your own seedlings check out our Seed Starting Simplified course.
Plan planting times
As you yearly garden plan comes together make notes and put together a schedule of the actual dates you will be planting out in your garden. We all have busy lives and having a planting schedule that you can transfer to your calendar is a great way to keep your garden on track.
Planning your garden is an important step. Take some time over the next 6 weeks or so to sit down and map our your garden year.