Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy: 5. Growing Success: Planning
Now the fun part, Planning! If you read my previous Soil post to get here or the other three before it, congratulations! We are almost there! You will have the garden of your dreams in no time, I promise! But first you must have a plan!
Every plant has different requirements. Some are big on top and some are big under the ground. Tall and short, wide and narrow. Knowing how a plant grows gives you a good lead to their spacing needs. You don’t want your tomato plants too close together because they get big and need air circulation to stay healthy. Whereas radish only need to be two inches apart. Most seed packets or catalogs will give you a spacing recommendation. If you don’t see it listed you can research further online or in a book.
Grab a scrap of paper, a napkin, a nice notebook, grid paper or a computer program. Whatever gets you to draw your garden and map it all out is good. Draw pictures of plants or x’s or o’s. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it’s for you. You can keep track of every thing you grow with a map. My maps end up very messy by end of year because I always add notes along the outside. Also, I tend to take it in the garden with me and get it covered in soil and pollen…tomatoes are very dirty!
Keep track of it all! Every seed you start, every plant you put in the ground, record the dates and varieties etc. Observe pest and disease and record. Track your harvest dates and volumes. Take your journal out with you and record what you see no matter how insignificant it seems. Three-ring binders and pocket folders are what I use so I can include maps etc. Past years notes help me determine the best planting dates for the highest yields. I write down everything and print out things I find on internet to add. You can be as creative as you want, messy or organized, just be thorough.
Crop Rotation/Companion Planting:
When you plant the same thing in same bed over and over you not only deplete the soil but you attract the pest and disease that attacks that plant family. It’s important to rotate your plantings so you don’t harm your plants. Some plants are better to plant after or before others. You could try this method click here, which shows you how to color map your plant families. Get to know your plant families. Some plants are considered companions and grow well together. Others do not grow well together. Here’s something to help, Companion Plant chart. Just make sure they mostly like to get along and you’ll do fine.
Planning out your garden is always a lot of fun so enjoy it. You will learn more every year so eventually you wont have to look up every plant before you decide its placement. Next step Seeds and Plants…