Many of us will have drawn out our gardens, if only a rough sketch, to work out what space we have and to help us to select the plants we’ll grow. There are a few essential questions to ask to make sure that your time spent garden planning is as productive as possible.
How many plants can I grow in the space I have?
One of the most common mistakes gardeners make is trying to cram too many crops into their gardens, which results in overcrowding and poor harvests as the plants get bigger and compete for the best nutrients.
What is the best layout for my plants?
It’s usually necessary to rearrange the plants on a plan until you achieve the perfect layout. Make sure that you consider both the size of plants when they are fully grown, and their growing needs; for instance, sprawling squash should be at the edge of vegetable beds so they don’t smother other crops, leafy crops like summer lettuce can benefit from the shade cast by taller plants, and sweet corn should always be grown in blocks rather than a single row so that they can wind-pollinate properly.
What do I need to buy or order?
Carefully planning seed and garden supply orders is essential, so you can get growing as soon as the weather is right.
When should I plant?
It’s important to draw up a schedule of the best times for planting each crop in your local area. For best results some crops such as tomatoes and peppers should be started off under cover or indoors several weeks before your last frost. Other crops such as beans and squash can’t be sown until outside temperatures are reliably warm.
What might go wrong?
Consider what might cause problems. For example, big blocks of single crops can easily be attacked by pests such as aphids so don’t forget to include flowering plants to attract beneficial insects in your plan, or a sudden hot spell might cripple young tender plants unless you have planned adequate irrigation or shade.
All this planning can be done using pen and paper, but this can be time-consuming.It becomes increasingly complicated the more plants you grow, particularly if you’re keeping track of several years of plans for crop rotation purposes.
Using the Garden Planner
The Garden Planner has been designed to solve many of the headaches of growing a successful garden by helping you to produce the perfect plan of what you’ll grow where and when.
The first step is to add all of the key items that you have or plan to include in your garden. The Garden Planner has lots of ready-designed garden objects such as sheds, fences and compost bins, which can be dropped straight into your plan. Many of them, such as raised beds and glasshouses can be adjusted to fit your space. For odd-shaped gardens you can mark boundaries with lines or fences, which can be curved if necessary.
To add plants, just click on the plant to pick it up, click on your plan where you want to place it, and then hold down your mouse button and drag to draw a whole row or block. As you add vegetables the space they require is clearly shown by the colored area around each plant, and the tooltip displays how many plants will fit into the area.
Click on the ‘i’ button next to the plant in the selection bar for growing information. You can also use the Filter button to the left of the selection bar to only crops that suit your requirements.
You can plan traditional rows or blocks, or if you’re using the intensive Square Foot Gardening method, the Garden Planner has a dedicated SFG mode.
More Useful Garden Planner Features
The Garden Planner has many other powerful features that make it easy to get more from your garden.
- Personalized sowing, planting and harvesting times. The Garden Planner adapts to your location by looking up the average frost dates for your area in our database of over 5000 weather stations and using this to produce a personalized Plant List, showing how many of each plant you require and when to sow, plant and harvest them in your location. Twice a month the Garden Planner sends email reminders of what can be sown or planted now from your garden plans to help you keep on track and not miss key planting dates.
- Succession planting. Organize which crops will follow on from others using the succession planting feature, setting in-ground dates for your plants and viewing them month by month to show where gaps will appear.
- Crop rotation. Each plant has a crop family color so you can easily identify it. The Garden Planner warns you about where you should avoid placing each vegetable based on what was in that area in previous years, helping to reduce the likelihood of soil-borne pests and diseases surviving from one year to the next.
- Irrigation. Use the Filter drop-down box to select Irrigation, and then use the various components to create your system.The Parts List will create an easy to use shopping list of the items you will need, based on your design. Other garden objects from your plan will also be listed here.
- Season extenders. Glasshouses, cold frames and row covers can all be used to extend the season. The Garden Planner automatically updates the sow, plant and harvest times for your vegetables when you add these protective structures to your plan.
Planning your garden will ensure you’ve got all the information you need to start your plants at the best time and give them the best chance of survival through the growing season. With good planning, some hard work, and a little help from Mother Nature, you can look forward to harvesting a bumper crop.
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Now, let's discuss the concepts mentioned in this article.
Garden planning is an essential step in ensuring a productive and successful garden. It involves considering various factors to optimize the use of space and resources. Here are some key concepts related to garden planning mentioned in the article:
1. Number of Plants: It is important not to overcrowd the garden by trying to grow too many crops in a limited space. Overcrowding can lead to poor harvests as plants compete for nutrients.
2. Plant Layout: The layout of plants should be carefully considered, taking into account the size of fully grown plants and their specific growing needs. For example, sprawling plants like squash should be placed at the edge of vegetable beds to avoid smothering other crops, while leafy crops like lettuce can benefit from the shade provided by taller plants.
3. Seed and Supply Orders: Planning and ordering seeds and garden supplies in advance is crucial to ensure timely planting when the weather is suitable.
4. Planting Schedule: Creating a schedule that outlines the best times for planting each crop in your local area is important for optimal growth. Some crops may require starting indoors or under cover before the last frost, while others can be sown directly in the ground when temperatures are reliably warm.
5. Potential Issues: Anticipating potential problems is an important aspect of garden planning. For example, planting large blocks of single crops can make them more susceptible to pests, so including flowering plants to attract beneficial insects can help mitigate this issue. Planning for irrigation or shade during hot spells is also important.
The article mentions the use of a tool called the Garden Planner to simplify the garden planning process. The Garden Planner offers several features to assist gardeners in creating a well-organized and productive garden. Some of the features mentioned in the article include:
1. Adding Garden Objects: The Garden Planner allows users to add various garden objects such as sheds, fences, and compost bins to their garden plan. These objects can be adjusted to fit the available space.
2. Adding Plants: Users can easily add plants to their garden plan by clicking on the desired plant and placing it in the desired location. The Garden Planner provides visual indicators of the space required by each plant and displays the number of plants that can fit in a given area.
3. Personalized Planting Times: The Garden Planner adapts to the user's location by providing personalized sowing, planting, and harvesting times based on average frost dates. It sends email reminders to help users stay on track with their planting schedule.
4. Succession Planting: The Garden Planner allows users to organize the planting sequence of crops to ensure a continuous harvest. It helps identify gaps in planting and provides a month-by-month view of the garden plan.
5. Crop Rotation: The Garden Planner helps with crop rotation by assigning a crop family color to each plant. It provides warnings about where to avoid placing each vegetable based on previous years' planting to reduce the risk of soil-borne pests and diseases.
6. Irrigation and Season Extenders: The Garden Planner includes features for planning irrigation systems and incorporating season-extending structures like glasshouses, cold frames, and row covers into the garden plan. It automatically updates the planting and harvesting times based on the addition of these structures.
Planning your garden using tools like the Garden Planner can help ensure that you have all the necessary information to start your plants at the right time and maximize your chances of a successful harvest.
I hope this information helps you understand the concepts mentioned in the article. If you have any further questions or need more information, feel free to ask!