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The Organized Gardener

January 29th, 2013

The longer I garden, the more I realize the need to be organized and to keep good records. If you only have a small garden, it’s not as important as if you plant a wide variety of vegetables and try to incorporate succession planting along with fall/winter gardening. As I sit down and spend time planning out the 2013 edible gardens, I realize there’s a lot of organization that needs to take place.
organized garden planning 1
I’ve been working on coming up with a year-long calendar to make sure I know when to seed all my various crops for production throughout the year. Not only do I need to think about the spring/summer garden, I’m trying to plan my garden so I have greens to harvest in winter and roots in the cellar as well. There are also cover crops to think about, that need to be worked into the crop rotation to improve soil and mitigate disease/pest issues. It’s all getting very complex.
organized garden planning 2
Each evening, I spend time with books and charts planning the entire gardening year. My next step will be drawing out a big garden plan and figuring out where everything will be planted. I must say, I don’t mind this side of it, I rather enjoy that it gives me something to do during the winter months.

What’s your biggest organizational challenge when it comes to gardening?

18 Comments to “The Organized Gardener”
  1. Marina C on January 29, 2013 at 7:46 am

    I am working on the same kind of plan, though my garden is smaller. I do a plan on graph with Excel of the plots, then I print it several times blank and draw progressive plans . Late zucchini will follow garlic, peas on one side of the arbor will give way to the growing cherry tomatoes coming from the other side., Pole beans for harvesting will all grow on arbors,
    I also want to organize my seeds better.
    I was thinking of getting larger index card size yellow envelopes so that I could write on them seed notes: how they did do each season, and what not to do next year.
    I am going to sort through them all as I do my garden plan, test old seeds I plan to use for germination by the paper towel method, ,
    Are you still going ahead with the 5×5 teaching garden? We all would love to follow that progress!

    Reply to Marina C's comment

    • Susy on January 29, 2013 at 8:33 am

      Yes will be going ahead with the 5X5 garden challenge – I’m in the process of organizing all the details.

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • amy on January 29, 2013 at 11:38 am

      Marina~I have not heard how to test old seed germination on paper towels….could you explain it a bit? This would have been most helpful last year when I tried to plant some older chive seeds…. fail……Thank you:)

      Reply to amy's comment

      • KimH on January 29, 2013 at 12:08 pm

        Here is a great description of how to do it..

        And from what I’ve heard, chive, onion, leek family usually only have a one-2 year at most viability rating..
        You can do a google search for seed viability charts.. they’re many all over the web and mostly all say the same.


        to KimH's comment

      • Susy on January 29, 2013 at 12:17 pm

        Yes, onion seed germination rates drop drastically after the first year. Here’s a handy chart I made about the shelf life of seeds:

        to Susy's comment

      • amy on January 29, 2013 at 1:12 pm

        Actually Susy, as I was typing the question for Marina, I recalled your chart….a blessing….and how I had copied it into my gardening journal…..and how helpful that would have been in times past!!! :)

        to amy's comment

      • Marina C on January 29, 2013 at 12:34 pm

        Check out testing seeds from Kevin’s web site:
        Puts an end to the wonder… I have old seeds I don’t want to just throw out.

        to Marina C's comment

      • amy on January 29, 2013 at 1:10 pm

        Thank you!

        to amy's comment

  2. Victoria on January 29, 2013 at 9:11 am

    This year my challenge is my pregnant belly! It took me a month to commit to a garden this year, and then found a local organic gardening service to help with everything from spring clean-up to seedling transplant. It’s hard for me to ask for help, but I think it would be even harder to pay retail for heirloom tomatoes :)

    Reply to Victoria's comment

  3. Melissa on January 29, 2013 at 9:39 am

    I really do think garden planning is one of my favorite past times! I love it when people ask me to help plan theirs! :)

    Reply to Melissa's comment

    • Susy on January 29, 2013 at 9:51 am

      Perhaps that would be a great business, I know a lot of people that could use help in that area.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. KimH on January 29, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    I guess Ive been gardening long enough that I dont really see anything as a challenge. You know.. I should take that back.. keeping my seed all in one place has its challenges..
    Mostly, I have no problem with it but last year, I lost a couple seeds I knew I had.. and this year I cant find one of them though I found the other one. They should have all been together but for whatever reason, they werent. I guess thats my challenge. ;)

    I am thinking seriously about a container more like the one Susie has her seeds in.. but old habits die hard.. I’ll probably just put them in a popcorn tin in baggies in alike-groups like I always have. I have a great big tin I could put them in instead of two small ones and a basket. They’re getting to be a pain. ;)

    Reply to KimH's comment

    • amy on January 29, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      Thank you~Kim:)

      Reply to amy's comment

  5. Maybelline on January 29, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    My thoughts and ideas could use some organization.

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  6. John on January 29, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    I got the garden planned out this weekend. Using graph paper like you showed. I hadn’t thought of succession planting. Any reading suggestions on succession planting?

    Reply to John's comment

  7. Deb on January 29, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    I never p-lan my garden. I find it better to decide what to grow and then put it in my raised beds at a random way. I don’t have time or patience to sit hours doing that as I have many other things to do. Whichever bed is ready to plant in I use as long as it’s different from last so I rotate crops. If something doesn’t come up then I’ll plant something else there. Works very well and in 30 years of gardening, as a grown up, I’ve never drawn out my gardens. Good luck to everyone gardening this year.

    Reply to Deb's comment

  8. Dawnmarie on January 30, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    My husband always thinks we have more room than we do and wants to buy more than we can realistically plant in our small plot. This year, I’m planning it on graph paper just so I can try to reign him in. Also, being in GA, I can’t order plants. So it’s either what’s locally in the stores or start seeds. I’m going to try my hand at some pepper seeds this year and see how it goes. Wish me luck!

    Reply to Dawnmarie's comment

  9. Jennifer Ray on January 31, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    This year I’ve signed up to the Sutton Vegetable Garden planner –

    I’m not affiliated to it in any way – and it’s a UK thing, not sure if it will work for those in the US.

    But it lets me draw my plot, has crop rotation alerts, and sends me e-mail reminders and it’s pretty cheap but you do get a 30 day free trial.

    I tried to do it in excel but though I am pretty good at excel I have difficulties with concentration and my attention span is limited so I gave up and paid for this. I need the reminders and it took a lot of the work out of it for me – gives me more time for gardening :)

    Reply to Jennifer Ray's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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