Sunday, 29 November 2009

Organizing a Garden

by Lynn of Viggies Veggies

Seed catalogs are rolling in for next season and I face the daunting task of planning a full sized garden with 54 varieties for the first time. Since I had no idea how much I needed to plant with the goal of supplying all of my produce in mind, I started out by reading The Backyard Homestead. They have a nice chart of suggested vegetables and how much to plant to feed one. I modified this a bit to suit my tastes and add a few fun items to try and will track when I run out of preserved food next year so I can adjust again to what I actually eat.

future garden plans

Next I turned to measuring my yard and planning the new beds. I used spacing guides from the book to divide my space into planting areas. The extra space was used to fit in herbs and edible flowers to use the space as productively as possible. I started this part just early enough that I was able to dig up the sod from all the new beds already this fall.

first batch of seeds

Then came the fun part. Pouring over websites and seed catalogs to pick the best sounding varieties. I'm feeding one so I went with some smaller fruited items like icebox watermelon to avoid waste. I also picked varieties like Siberian Tomatoes that are more cold hardy than necessary so I can work on extending the harvest even further next year.

planting chart

Finally, not wanting to be caught unprepared when it came time to plant I made a list and added each seed to it as it arrived. This contains all the vital information for planting and seed starting, including little calculations to help me know exactly when to start plants indoors and when each item can be moved outdoors. Now I'm busy saving containers I come across so I won't need to buy any fancy seed starting trays come spring.

How do you think I did? Is there anything special you do to prepare for spring?


Simple in France said...

Wow! This is a great post. I don't have land . . .yet. When I used to garden I was very half hazard about things--I'd try a little of this, a little of that etc. But your system is very organized and looks like it gives you a really great yield. I've never even thought of gardening that way. I can't give you advice, but I can say that your post was very inspiring. I feel like if I keep reading up on your techniques I'll really know what I'm doing by the time I have a chance to start my own garden.

GooseBreeder said...

Great fun,glad you're enjoying your adventure.
I usually put all the used straw from my goose houses on the garden all Summer ready for Spring and Winter,growing times for my part of the world.
If all your seeds germinate and grow suggest you join LETS to have a way to get rid of your surplus as you'll have heaps! Anything can good luck and enjoy!

Barbara said...

WOW, I have always been a gardener but, never as organized as your post suggest. You have inspired me to do better. I have started saving any containers that I can use to start seed indoors as well. Happy Gardening!

Tree Hugging Mama said...

I will be late planting my gardens next year, so I will focus heavy on my winter garden. I have to put in raised beds with plenty of compost and clean cardboard between the beds and the ground (city lot with most likely lead contamination, can't find anyone that will come out and test for me).

I suggest oragami for your potting. If you make appropriate sized oragami cups out of newspaper(contact your paper and find out what they use for ink. I contacted my two locals and both use plant nased ink for their color sections, but petroleum based ink for the black and white, so I won't use my locall newspaper, but I did find organic unbleached packing paper (for a reasonable price)). Starting your seeds this way means you can just plant them directly in the ground when they are ready (less likely hood of damaging roots and loosing some growth time to transplant shock).
Just my two cents. Your garden sounds great.

viggie said...

Glad you enjoyed it :) It's certainly kept me busy in the off season!

Goose, reusing straw is a great idea! I picked up angora bunnies just yesterday to use as my little fertilizer machines :)

Tree, thanks for the tip! I'm sure I've seen those before, they just hadn't come to mind.

Anonymous said...

Victory Seeds has a nice planting guide:

Kari said...

I love your use of the spreadsheet to track your seeds and associated dates!

I think I'll have to come up with something like that for our gardens.

Are you really getting your seed catalogs already? We usually get ours in Februrary. said...

Wow - that looks like a great system - I also use a site called folia - dont know if you have seen it - you can track each plant using photos and milestones. By the way I have awarded this site with a best blog award. Every post is just so great!

viggie said...

Life - Thank you for the folia tip! I just signed up for an account and it looks very will even help me track my harvest next year :)

peter said...

if your readers are looking for more information on USDA plant hardiness zones, there is a detailed, interactive USDA plant hardiness zone map at

Allison said...

I am SO glad that someone else is as detail-oriented as I am; most of my friends think I am a bit strange in the head to have Excel spreadsheets and scaled diagrams! I think your approach is quite great and I will say that it DOES help to keep records so one can review the harvest and make adjustments next time around.

Heather said...

The organization of the garden is amazing! Very thought out. This post gave me alot of ideas. Has given me alot to think about for my own little future garden!

livinginalocalzone said...

This post gives me so much to think about and play with in thinking about the 2010 garden. So much to consider! Last year I tried planting fewer types of veg but a greater quantity of each that I *did* plant. The bad part of that was that the veg I chose had a rough time with all the rain we had last summer (eggplant, okra, etc) So this year I'm thinking of doing more of a variety as I did in 2008. The idea of successive planting and interplanting has me interested... if I can figure out all the timing!