A reader shares gardening tips, including the benefits of keeping a garden journal and creating a garden map.
Erin and her family added some new garden plots to their yard last spring by creating raised beds.
We have four garden plots – one in our backyard, one in our front yard, and two community garden plots. In all, about 1,500 square feet of garden space, all for vegetables.
We get started planning in February. Our process begins with evaluating how we did the previous year, namely what crops we grew too much of and which ones we didn’t grow enough of.
Our goal is to buy as little produce as possible. We have two chest freezers and a cellar for storing our harvest.
We grow onions, garlic, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, winter squash, pumpkin, Swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, peppers, beets, carrots, eggplant, broccoli, bok choi, cabbage, watermelon, peas, and cucumbers, as well as herbs.
We keep tabs on what we run out of each year, and we allot more space for that food in the coming year. On the other hand, when we have too much of one crop or another, we shrink down our planting accordingly.
Once we’ve decided what vegetables and herbs to grow, we inventory our seeds and establish a list of what we need to buy or try to find at the community garden seed giveaway. At the same time, we draw out maps of our plots, and we plan out what’s going to be planted where.
Around about the end of March, we get out all of our seed-starting materials, and we get to work.
We start nearly all of our own plants indoors on a rack we made, using grow lights and warming mats. The only time we end up purchasing plants is if we have a crop failure of some kind, which inevitably seems to happen with at least one or two types of plants every year.
Probably the most important lesson we’ve learned as far as garden planning goes is to keep a good journal, so you know what you’ve planted and what you’ve harvested from year to year.
In addition, a good – and updated – map on graph paper is also a good idea. It helps to be able to look back and see how one variety of seed worked over another.
We are constantly growing our plot space. Last spring, we built some raised beds out front. When fall rolled around, we made our deck smaller and tilled up the area for more garden space out back.
After all, can you ever have too much garden space? We don’t think so.
Read about another garden plan in Heart of the Home: Planning a Garden.
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