* garden planning tools

Posted on April 2nd, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.

Gardening in the intermittent sun today.  Seriously, it is alternating bright sun with drizzle every half hour or so.  Ahh Seattle weather.  Today I planted chives, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, broccoli raab, collards, kale, and scarlet runner beans.  I also did my second round of the beets, chard, radishes, mesclun mix, scallions, cilantro, parsley, dill, Asian greens, spinach, and fennel.  My first planting was not terribly successful.  I only got sprouts from the beets, peas, radishes, mesclun mix, kailaan, mustard spinach, and fennel, and all of the sprouts are still very small.  My starts from February have done better.  Everybody sprouted except for the artichokes.  That makes strike 3 for artichokes, so I will be buying them as starts from now on.  Today I thinned the starts and set them outside for a few hours to start hardening off.

I have a new Superior Garden Organization Planning System (TM) that has been working pretty well.  I found all these great books and pamphlets and websites that I’ve consulted for advice on when to plant what, but I was finding that every month I would spend all day going through them looking for the smallish number of plants I actually use.  So instead I organized my seed packets by the earliest date I could plant them (either as starts or by direct seeding outside).  Then I clipped them together with binder clips labeled by month.


They all live in a bin and I just grab the appropriate piles each month (for example, I planted from the February, March, and April piles today).  The trick is to only handle one month’s pile at a time so as to not re-mix them together.  As I monitor the results of each planting, some packets will get moved to later piles.  Obviously this is an imperfect solution for the over-wintering second planting seeds, but it at least greatly simplifies the spring and early summer plantings.

As a supplement (and just in case I get them mixed up), I also made a list of what to plant each month on graph-print index cards.  Indoor starts and direct sow get separate cards, and for some months I even have an “early” and a “late” card.  I punched a hole in the set and put them on a binder ring.  I also write up a card with all the varieties every date I do a planting round.  Then I can record the sprouting results easily.  I also make a little bed map to go with it.  These also all get put on a binder ring, with the plan eventually being to keep a set every year that is easy to scan through.


My other favorite new tool this year is the grease pencil.  I found a cache of these at lab (they’re useful for labeling glassware), and wondered if they would hold up to the elements better than the inks I’ve tried.  Ball point pen disappeared practically immediately, and sharpie did not age well either.  The ones that have been outside for a month now are looking super, so I think this will work.  The ink from the stamped markers I made last year held up great too, but I like to write down the variety and that was taking too much space with the stamps.

As you can tell from my map, I am making sure to save some space for my tomatoes and cucumbers, but it’s otherwise getting pretty full!  Bed #3 is totally packed already, though I will later fill in the space from the guys that didn’t sprout with my starts.  My peas and runner beans are planted along the fence line this year to free up some extra space, and I’m putting all the squashes and pumpkins in a spot where they will have more room than in the raised beds.  I can’t wait for everything to grow!

One Response to “garden planning tools”

  1. Katherine Says:

    Thanks for this great seed organizing idea. I usually group them by type and then end up going through tons and tons of packets looking for one. My only problem right now is that I can’t find all my seeds in the basement…


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