Winter is over for another year. The weather is warming, days are getting longer and the garden is springing to life with blossoms, flowers and bees. No more snuggling inside by the fire, rugging up and hibernating. It’s time to get outside and get the garden in order so we have an abundance (I hope) of produce in the Summer and Autumn.
Planning is particularly important at this time of year. There are so many plants to sow and plant out and timing and placement are essential to success. Rotating your crops each year will ensure any pests or diseases in the soil from the last planting don’t affect your current crops and planting seedlings and direct sowing seeds needs to be carefully planned to avoid damage from frost or slow growth from cold weather.
My planning tips:
I use a number of resources to read up on the best time to plant different vegetables based on my climate. Diggers Club has a great map of cold and heat zones as well as growing zones. My area is a cool zone which has a lower number of growing days (days over 15 degrees celsius). I also love Stephanie Alexander’s book The Kitchen Garden Companion which has information on growing as well as scrumptious recipes to cook with the food you have grown.
Once you have sorted out what can be grown in your area, it’s time to look through the seed catalogues for what you would like to grow. Choose things you and your family enjoy – it’s not much fun taking the time to grow things that no one wants to eat! You also need to consider how much space you have. It’s no point planning to grow 5 different tomato varieties if you don’t have the space. Read the recommended spacing when you order so you can estimate how much garden space you will need.
I created a spreadsheet to help me plan my garden for each season. I have a master plan where I record what I’d like to plant each season, when and how many. This is a guide and can be updated as I go along. It makes it easier for me to order seeds and plan as I don’t need to go back to the books or internet to check what varieties I can grow.
I then have seperate tabs for each year where I record what I plant, when and where. I also have notes to record what went well and what issues I had.
Once I’ve sown seeds into punnets, I plan where I am going to plant them in the garden. You can do this step before purchasing seeds so you don’t buy too many and find you don’t have the space but I have quite a large garden and I tend to just make it work!
I have a master plan of my garden drawn up and I photocopy or trace this onto a new piece of paper each season so I can write where I am planting each variety. I double check spacing so I don’t overcrowd the beds.
Now I wait until the seedlings are large enough and the weather is warm enough to plant them out in the garden.
I hope these tips help you plan an amazing and abundant spring/summer garden this year. Times have been tough in 2020, but nothing lifts the spirits more than watching a seed grow into a productive plant and the joy of harvesting, cooking and eating your own produce. Growing your own food gives you a sense of control in a time where we often feel we have none.
Until next time. Take care and stay safe.