By Jodi Torpey
In January the empty vegetable bed sits like a blank canvas, just waiting to be transformed into an edible masterpiece. When planted with the right combination of colors and textures, this once barren spot will become a thing of beauty.
The quiet of winter is the perfect time to look at your blank canvas and plan your next vegetable masterwork. Here are some garden planning tools to get you started.
Seeds as Garden Planning Tools
Seed packets and catalog descriptions are great garden planning tools, because they provide much of the information you need to make your kitchen garden a delicious success. Most seed packets include details about the vegetable variety, whether to start seeds inside or plant them in the garden, when to plant, how far apart to plant and the number of days until harvest. Select an assortment of the vegetables and herbs you like to eat and carefully follow the planting and care instructions.
Planning on Paper
Many gardeners like to plot before they plant. A simple method is to draw a layout of your garden space on plain or graph paper and then fill in the blanks.
Write the dates for planting each vegetable and herb with Clyde’s Garden Planner. Clyde Majerus of Grovespring, Mo., designed a handy slide chart that shows when to plant 22 edibles for spring and fall gardens ($5). The planner is also available as a mobile app ($1.99).
One of the most complete garden planning tools I’ve run across is the Garden Planner & Journal ($16) by Erica Strauss of Northwest Edible Life. This downloadable planner is sure to keep even the most disorganized gardener on track. The planner includes plant profile sheets, seed and plant purchase lists, gardening how-to’s and to-do’s, check sheets, calendar sheets, and pages to scribble down observations and reflections.
Electronic Garden Planning Tools
Of course there are now bushels of online, mobile and tablet tools for gardeners who want to let their fingers do the planning. Each of these garden planning tools is designed specifically for growing vegetables and herbs.
The Garden Minder from Gardener’s Supply (free) is a garden planning tool for online, mobile and tablet gardeners. You can select a pre-planned garden or create one with the colorful veggie drag-and-drop tool.
Garden Time Planner by Burpee is another free app for gardeners who’d like to be reminded of what to do next in the garden. This app can be customized to your region, with a list of tasks for when to plant, transplant, and harvest many kinds of vegetables and herbs. A nice feature is the link to videos that offer how-to gardening tips.
Garden Tracker is an iPhone app ($2.99) that lets gardeners create a garden map with the vegetables and herbs they want to plant. This app keeps track of what’s already been done in the garden and sends reminders for what to do next.
What garden planning tools do you prefer for creating vegetable gardens? Please add your suggestions here.