Garden Planning – Plotting Things Out

Our seeds arrived on Wednesday, and after eagerly tearing open the package and gazing at the gold, vacuum-sealed packets, I decided – when I finally had a few moments to myself – that it was time to plan the garden out, foot by foot.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I drew up a tentative garden plan in October, right before we placed our garlic in the ground.  I started in my garden notebook with just a simple sketch:

Original Garden Plan for 2012

My initial thought was to just plan out the 2012 garden, as I did the 2011 garden, using the notebook that I’ve used for the past two years to carefully track when we plant things and

Last year's garden plan.

how they grow (though, last year things fell a bit by the wayside come July, when I was finishing up a second Master’s certification).  That said, one of the great weaknesses of the notebook method, was the lack of proper graph paper, and my own inability to go back in and change things without making a real mess.  I liked the ability to see how my changes tracked, but after realizing that I could save successive drafts of a garden plan on my laptop, I decided that the best way to move forward was to look at garden-layout software.

I am nothing if not frugal, and I made the choice early-on that the garden should be a place where money is saved, rather than spent excessively, so I decided to see what I could do on my computer, without purchasing specific software (I have a MacBook).  I discovered that Microsoft Excel has graph paper available as one of its projects, and by unprotecting the document, I was able to map out, square-foot by square-foot, the exact dimensions of our two gardens (though the second garden might be a bit short, as I couldn’t remember its exact length (now, under several inches of snow) and preferred to under-estimate, rather than over-estimate.  After consulting the crop rotation charts  in Carleen Madigan’s wonderful Backyard Homestead, I was able to plot out our 2012 plan.

Garden Plan 2012 - 1 square = 1 square foot

This plan took me about 30 minutes to make and will save plenty of time when we head out to turn the soil, build our tomato trellises and form raised hills in mid-May.  Now, I’m just waiting in eager anticipation for the day when we can plug in our growing lamps and start sprouting the 2012 seedlings.  And given that I have absolutely no willpower at all, here are some images to tide us all over until planting can really start…

Seedlings - April 17 (1 Week After Planting)

Seedlings - April 27

Seedlings, May 18

Then, finally, the arrival of the chickens on May 23 meant that everything would move outside for hardening off in the winter coop until complete transplantation took place just after Memorial Day (that, folks, is how far north we really are).

2011 Chicks - 45 Minutes After Arrival

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5 thoughts on “Garden Planning – Plotting Things Out

  1. Thank you for sharing the neat find about the graph paper. We have a fair sized garden (more than 8000 sq ft) so we need to plot it out too. Last year we did the paper and pencil version…knowing about this free tool is great news!! When you talk about living north of everything….you should come to my tiny homestead…North of the 49th in Canda, Northern Ontario….brrrr…but our growing seasons seem compatible…mid May! Good luck in your upcoming season! Tammy

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