Friday, December 30, 2011

Garden Planning and Records

       What to plant? Where? Where did the seeds/plants come from? When did I start the plants or set them out? What did I harvest?  These are some of the questions I ask myself every year. I struggled for years trying to figure out a planning and recording system where I could record the answers, a system that works because I actually use it. This is what I've come up with.
       It's that time of year. A library's worth of seed catalogs have shown up in our mailbox. My spouse busy checking our seed inventory, what we'll need for next year, and who offers the best deals for the items we want. Where in the garden will all that stuff go! Now's the time to figure that out.
       Each year on quarter-inch-square graph paper I map out what goes where in the garden. I refer to prior years' maps to check for crop rotation. If I make changes when the actual planting takes place, I change the map. The map itself becomes my garden diary, with notations to answer the questions above and more. This past spring and summer, the map remained taped to my kitchen wall, where I could see at a glance what still needed planting, or I could make notes on problems I experienced with insects and weather, or whatever. When I harvested, I recorded amounts, and how many packages of corn, green beans, carrots, etc. went into the freezer.  I can refer to that map to estimate quantities I will need next year, to see what problems might recur. All the information is in one place, and easy to find since I keep maps for all the years I've done this in a binder.
       I drew up the first map of this type six or so years ago, but it was only last year that I started making notes about more than planting dates. I keep track of the harvest on my wall calendar, then add amounts up when the entire harvest of a specific vegetable is in and record that figure on the garden map.
       This particular garden is "new." A few years ago it was an unused bull pen, overgrown with stinging nettle, poke weed, garlic mustard, brambles, other weeds and black locust saplings.
        These are photos of the bull pen garden area.  The one above was taken in 2003. At right is the 2011 edition, with strawberries in the right foreground. There's still ground clearing to do this side of that metal barn. That's on my to-do list for spring 2012. These photos are also a part of my record keeping as they remind me that I am making progress in my trials.


  1. Your drawing is sure fancier than mine! Nice!

  2. Got my garden planned just waiting for spring...come on spring oh how I want you to come!