Looking for a way to simplify your garden plan? I posted a photo of my garden plan on our Facebook page today and everyone seemed to like it, but are not sure how to fill it out. Today, I am not only going to give you this file, but I will explain how to make it work. Yes, it is as simple as it looks.
Some folks (self-included) sometimes make things harder than they need to be. The purpose of this plan is not for lots of detail like how deep to plant, how far apart, sun or shade … none of that. This plan is just about “when,” and in gardening, timing is everything! Plus you can use the same planner year after year by just tweaking the dates a bit, deleting the veggies you are not going to grow again, and adding the new veggies you want to try this year. Anyway, here is a quick look at MY simple garden plan designed for zone 6b and specific to the veggies we are growing this year. Shortly, I will show you how to customize it for your zone & your garden!
When I get done with mine, I print it out and stick it on the fridge. Then each week on Sunday, with my calendar in hand, I look at what needs done that week and decide when I am going to go tackle it. THEN … I go after details. If I try to record all the details too early in the season, I will just forget them anyway, so why bother? I just want to know when.
And just so you know, depending on the size of your garden and how many different varieties you are planning this year, this could take anywhere from a few minutes to 4-5 hours. It took me about an hour, once I had all my seeds together. But it is time well-spent!
Instructions To Simplify Your Garden Plan
- Find out what your gardening zone and last frost date are. Your last frost date is most important. Make a note of that date. It will fall during “Week 1” — the week before all risk of frost is gone for the season. Week zero is the week after that when there is NO risk of frost.
- Download this MS Word doc for editing or this pdf to print and fill in by hand.
- Get a calendar and write “1” in the left hand column of the week of your last frost like this (our last frost is April 28 so the week of the April 26 is our “Week 1” and the week of May 3rd is our “Week Zero”):
The following week will be zero (meaning, NO FROST). Number the weeks (on the calendar) counting backwards. Transpose the dates for those weeks over to the second column (Date) in your Garden Planting Schedule (which you downloaded in step 2 above).
- Gather all your seed packets (so you can look at the back and get the planting dates) and/or have a window open on your computer that goes to a website you trust for comprehensive, zone specific instructions for any given plant. I prefer Farmer’s Almanac because you can just plug in your zip code and it will regurgitate information relevant to your zone (including when to plant indoors, when to direct sow outdoors, and when to harvest most common veggies). But you can use any resource you like (or a combination of resources) to get this information. Even if you do not have all your seeds yet, you can look all this up online. Oh, and you can usually group like-veggies together (for example, even if you are growing 2-3 varieties of lettuce, just say lettuce).
- Based on what you see on a seed packet or website (or where ever you go for information), plug the name of that veggie into the correct row(s) in either a) the Start Indoors & again in the When to Transplant columns or b) the Direct Sow column.
- NOTE: If you start it indoors, you must also find out and record when “When to Transplant” and add that same veggie to that column as well (if it is sown indoors, it must also be transplanted). Therefore, if a seed needs started indoors 6 weeks before your last frost and gets moved outside after all danger of frost has passed, then it goes on the row for week 6 in the Start Indoors column AND in the row for week zero (or later) in the When To Transplant column! And so on . . . get it?
- To check your work, just make sure that everything listed in the Sow Indoors column eventually shows up in the Transplant column. All other seeds will be sown directly into the ground so no transplanting is required.
- Save, print, and display where you can see it every week and add those tasks to your weekly to do list at the beginning of each week.
THEN . . . you can worry about how deep, how far apart, how much sun, etc. What matters right now is that you have a plan and a convenient schedule that even your better half could follow in your absence.
Does it get any easier than that?