garden planning mania

I’ve written before about how sometimes I am a very meticulous gardener–carefully documenting what, when, where, how I’m planting. But at other times I can be completely impulsive and whimsical–planting this and that, here and there and thinking, “Oh, I don’t need to make a note, I’ll remember what I did.” As a result, every year when my seeds start sprouting I inevitably find myself staring quizzically at a some of the leaf shapes wondering what plant will surprise me.

But this year I’ve been determined to really be much more methodical about my planting. I’ve been keeping very careful records of everything I’ve been sowing and also thinking through the best possible strategies for companion and succession planting. So imagine my delight when I accidentally stumbled on an online garden planner being offered by Territorial Seed. I’ve never used any kind of software for managing my garden before but so far this planner seems like a fantastic idea. I’ve been playing around with the free demo for a few weeks and now I’m becoming obsessed with garden planning!

What impressed me right away was that I could customize the planner to my exact growing region (by zip code) and it found the first and last frost dates for my area from a weather station right in my neighborhood. Based on that it plugged in the recommended planting dates for sowing indoors and planting out. Even though I already know that info for the crops I’m used to planting, the really handy thing is that going forward the planner will send me email reminders when it’s time to start sowing the various plants I’ve selected. Love that! Even after all these years of gardening, I still find that time just seems to get away from me and before I know it I’m starting certain seeds weeks later than I know I should. A sowing nagger is just what I need.

Also, all the plants in the database are coded according to botanical family and the planner keeps track of what I’m growing where. So if I keep my whimsical impulses in check and remember to plant according to plan, not only will I not have any more “mystery plants” but next year the planner will warn me if I plan to plant in a way that violates standard rotation practices. How cool is that?

One of the things I love most about gardening is how many learning opportunities it provides. The more years I grow fruits and vegetables, the more I find to discover and explore–new varieties, new growing technologies, etc. etc. My hope is with this planner I’ll be able to really be able to streamline my garden information and make this (and future) year’s learning even more efficient and productive. And in the meantime, it’s also very fun. Check it out!

p.s. Also curious to hear about any other garden planners people have used!

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