I started writing this post thinking that I should write about our hiking trip to Virginia a couple of weeks ago or my hike this last weekend with the dogs, but my mind is on gardening. Even though this month has been filled with snow and ice, I cannot stop thinking of the warm weather ahead and the things we are planning on growing. So the planning is what I have been focusing on. Last year, the plan involved a google drawing document that I shared with Andrew. As I learned more about where to grow things and how they should grow the document developed and changed.
This year I decided to look for some help in developing my plan, and I am super excited about what I found. There are many gardening planning applications out there, and since I am pretty excited about technology, especially as it applies to something that I love like gardening, I had to check them out. Here are just a few of the ones that I found and got excited about.
One from the Gardener’s Supply Company uses square-foot gardening techniques to create a raised bed garden, which I really like for getting ideas of how to mix and match my plants in their beds. However, I found that in the plans that I created the spacing didn’t seem right and that things tended to be a bit crowded. They have a fixed list of plants and no way to add or change the information on them besides the plant name. It was also tedious to have to scroll through the list of plants to find the one that I was looking for. I really liked that they had some pre-made beds though, as it was great for generating my own ideas of how to organize my garden. Here is one of my plans below that was a larger version of their sauces and salsa garden. I used four squares of tomatoes to represent one plant, since I think the tomatoes need a bit more space than the 1 square foot that they suggest.
Another application which was fun to play around with was Smart Gardener. With their various organizational tools you can clearly see when things need to be planted and can enter in the date when you plant seeds, transplant seedlings, and harvest plants. They have a nice selection of types of plants, although it took me awhile to see that there are other options like flowers and herbs that you can choose from, instead of just focusing on the vegetables. The thing that I was most excited about and also most disappointed in was the “smart” aspect of the planner. You can allow the system to recommend plans for your garden based on the plants that you selected and the bed layout that you created. Whenever it generated plans for me, it never made sense. Some plants were crowded or on top of other plants, while other parts of the garden are empty. It makes sense to have the plants automatically on the grid in some way, but I think there could be more intelligent ways of doing this. The plan they recommend for me is below. After exploring a little more, I found that they have additional features that you buy call “Smart Add Ons”. I guess instead of having a flat fee that you pay for the whole program, you are given the basics for free, and if you want more features you can purchase the ones that you find the most helpful. While I haven’t purchased any of them I like the idea of the harvest calculator add on that let’s you keep track of all the produce that is coming out of your garden, the succession planting add on that allows you to plan out multiple plantings of an area of the garden, and the enhancement add ons for the notes, calendar, and archives.
The final application that I am going to write about is my favorite and it will be the one I am using this summer. Created by the company Interactive Gardener, GrowVeg.com Garden Planner has many of the features that I am looking for in an application such as plant spacing information, calendar information for all plants which can be edited, flexible garden layout, and as an extra bonus it can help you with crop rotation. If you enter the information on when the plants will be in the ground, you can also see what the garden will look like during different months, which is helpful for succession planting (planting one plant after another in the same season). There is so much that can be done with it, I feel like I am just starting to really take advantage of all of the features they provide. There are a few minor interface things that would be nice to see in the system (keyboard shortcut and trackpad scrolling), as well as some more advanced calendar features and some sort of harvesting calculator, but overall I love it! However if you want more than a 30-day free trial you have to pay for a subscription, but the time it will save me makes it totally worth it. Not to mention the fun of being able to make progress on the garden while the weather warms up! Another aspect that I really like is the ability to post your garden online and view other peoples gardens from around the world. Below is the initial plan of our garden, but it will definitely change, so over the course of the year I will continue to publish the plan to this link (EDIT: the latest version is actually at this link) as I make updates (which, let’s be honest, happens on a daily basis). Let me know what you think!
How do you plan your garden? Is there an application that you use or just some pencil and paper logic? How do you keep yourself organized with all the information on planting depth and spacing, height of plants, dates to plant, transplant, fertilize and harvest, etc.? I am really curious to know about other people’s planting processes.