Since We’re All Stir-Crazy, Let’s Plan This Year’s Garden!

Being stuck inside is not my favorite activity. I am not patient and I get so excited about all of my ideas for the new planting season. Staring out of my window at the garden is too much brooding, even for me. I just can’t wait to get my hands into the soil. However, it’s not time yet. 

I could clean the house again. Sure. I could wash and fold everyone’s clothes that they have studiously ignored all week. Yes. I could repair the door that my giant, clumsy German Shepard crashed into. Uh huh. Instead I think I am going to indulge in a little creative brainstorming and planning. There are a lot of logistics to work out before every planting season. I have beds to build and a planting schedule to craft. I need to draw the layout and figure out where everything is going to go. As you can see, I simply do not have time for housework!

Cataloging

The first thing I do is drag out the boxes of seeds that I have leftover from last year. I don’t like to waste money and being disorganized has cost me a pretty penny in the past. Not this year. 

I go through all of it and separate them into groups. First, I separate them according to whether I am going to start them indoors or outdoor sow. Then, I break down each group into subcategories like water and light requirements as well as crop family. This way, I know what plants can go in the same bed together.

It is kind of like compiling a seating chart for a party. Don’t sit Uncle Tomato with aunt corn or they are likely to attract the wrong crowd. Plant your cousin Green Bean next to your coworker Onion and a fight will likely break out. Your ex boyfriend Dill should be kept FAR away from your frenemy Carrot because they might get just a little too friendly. You get it. 

Anyway, then I compile all of that into a list and color code the planting dates and highlight everything accordingly. Now I can decide what seeds I still need to buy, if any. This year, I will work entirely with what I have on hand. Because I am responsible. I know that I have enough and do not need more. I have self control. Right? Right?

I mean, it TRY to be organized. Once my garden is put together you’ll see!

Mapping

Time to break out the colored pencils and graph paper baby! I love this part. First, I draw an outline of my yard with all of the major landmarks. I note where the water line runs through and all of the sidewalks, trees, shrubs, etc…

Then, I add in all of the existing beds and containers. Once I have a pretty accurate drawing of the yard, I put in everything I want to build this year. For example, I need a rainwater catchment system and drip irrigation as well as more raised beds. This really helps me get a better vision of what is going to work. Sometimes what looks great and functions perfectly in my head simply falls apart in reality. 

Now I put that seating chart together. I go over my lists and figure out who can sit with whom and assign their seats. Once I have finished drawing all of the plants that I already have, I look it over and figure out how much space I have available for new ones. Then, I make a wish list of what plants are a good fit for the available space. 

Purchasing

With my plant wish list done, I set about creating a materials list. For each feature I plan to add, I take the necessary measurements and figure out what I need for the project. Since I prefer to do things as frugally and sustainably as possible, I try to utilize as many resources from the property as I can. Sticks, old pavers, wine bottles, and newspapers can all be repurposed, so get creative and make notes on your list!

Next, I ask everyone I know and look around online to see if there are any materials out there that someone is getting rid of for free. Last month, a man who runs a car wash was giving away big soap barrels to anyone that wanted them. Score! I have a free rain barrel for my catchment system!

Also, I regularly find people getting rid of wooden pallets, scrap lumber, old pvc pipe, and all kinds of scavenger gold. I also keep an eye out for seed swaps online and through the county extension office. Some libraries have seed swaps through their gardening club.

Now that I have all of the free stuff taken care of, the items that will actually cost money should be at a more manageable level. You might think that I would just take that and run to the hardware store, but I’m all about the best deals. Instead, I research the prices for these items at the box stores online. I create a price comparison sheet and figure out what the best chain store deals are.

Then, I take this sheet to places like the Habitat for Humanity Store and various junk yard type places to see if they offer anything on my list for less. Not everything at these places are a good deal, so it is important to have an idea of what other retailers are charging when you shop.

This is the point in which I allow the seed catalogs to seduce me. I flip through these bad boys like some people swipe through Tinder. Just scanning the pictures and descriptions trying to read between the lines to find the perfect match. This one says it is reliable and productive, but my, isn’t this one exotic?! 

I mean, just LOOK at them! Garden catalogs are so inspiring.

Conclusion

So that’s what I’m doing. I am deep into my plans for the next year. My compost system is finally up and running and I now have a plan for a better irrigation system. I have spent a great deal of time this winter improving my soil’s quality, so I hope everything can handle summer a little better this time around.

Resources

If you want more information about how to plan your garden, check out some of these resources. I found them to be really helpful and interesting.

Garden plan still life. LOL

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