Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Planting Plan for 2011

It's still a work-in-progress but I thought I would share the planting plan that I'm working on for the coming year. If you are familiar with Pam Pierce's book Golden Gate Gardening my spreadsheets might look familiar, much of it is lifted straight from her book. She has a chart in the book that lists a lot of commonly grown vegetables and graphically shows when they can be planted. I find that I'm constantly flipping to those pages when I'm thinking about starting something, either I wonder what the heck can I plant in January (or whatever month it happens to be) or I want to grow something new and I want a quick idea of when I should be sowing seeds for it. So this year I decided to copy Pam's chart and tailor it to what I'm planning on growing this year.

Golden Gate Gardening is an invaluable resource for gardeners in the San Francisco Bay Area and Coastal California. The climate here is so unique that the growing information on most seed packets and in most gardening books doesn't work well here. I credit much of my success in the vegetable garden to this book and I highly recommend the book to anyone who has a home vegetable garden in this area.

So, here's my take on Pam's chart. The dark green shading means that seeds can be sown or plants can be planted out at those times. The light green shading means planting might be possible at that time but it's more iffy. Most of that shading stuff comes straight from the book, I added some vegetables and indicated best planting times according to my experience and the information in the text of the book. I've inserted lines after each vegetable to list the varieties that I'm planning on growing and also noted the sources for most of the seeds. There's some notes to myself about when I'm planning on sowing seeds where the shading indicates when plants can be planted out. I plan on noting the dates that I sow the seeds and plant out transplants (we'll see...). If I can keep on top of things I might also show dates for the first harvests. And if I'm really really on top of things I should be able to start refining the chart to reflect my particular microclimate - hah!

You might notice that there is no information about how many plants to start or where to plant them. I don't try to do that much planning in advance since that type of plan always seems to fall apart quite quickly in my garden, usually because I want to grow more things than I have space for. The long growing season here provides a lot of flexibility in the garden, I  can often wait until I know that a space will be opening up in the garden before I decide what will go in there. Some things that have a short window for planting out and that need to be in place for a long period of time get planned well in advance. For instance, I know which bed the tomatoes will be in this year since I only have 4 beds and I rotate the tomatoes around them. So I'm only putting in quick cropping things in the tomato bed at the moment, like lettuce or other fast maturing greens. And the squash have a designated spot, they typically follow the winter growing favas in my garden (which follow the tomatoes), that timing has always worked well for me - but you won't see that in the chart below.

Do you plan your garden in advance?  What type of plan works for you?


11 comments:

  1. Very nice! I do a similar chart as well.

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  2. I love Pam's book and, like you, refer to it a lot when I'm planning my garden. I've got a diagram of my garden plot in a PowerPoint document and make three copies of it each year, one for spring, summer, and fall. I "plant" my veggies in pencil on each page, putting down my to and from dates next to each so I can play around with where things are, what can/can't come before and after, etc. Since my plot is small (only around 500 sq ft) I need to worry about what shades what, how tall things are, so the visual helps a lot.

    Love your blog, by the way!

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  3. I love your charts. I do similar, but I have columns per week (52 columns). And I mark dates for sowing transplanting, flowering and harvesting.

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  4. I always plan the first round of plants for the year. Yesterday I finished my planting schedule, but not the quantity of each. I've got to get that finished today. Then I just play by ear my succession plantings. So my early spring is all set when it is busy, but once late spring rolls around I just wing it.

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  5. Those are useful planning tools. I do plan my garden out each year because we live from the food it produces and I need to ensure certain crops are worked in, succession plantings are possible, and that I use my garden space wisely recognizing that part of it does not get optimal sun and needs to be used for growing greens and other non fruiting crops. The plan always ends up modified in practice - but it is the general blueprint of the garden for the year.

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  6. I wish there's a book like Pam's for our region, I'm not experienced enough to sort out what, when, and how to plant for our climate yet. My planting is either hit or miss, but I learn along the way, and there's always something new to learn everyday.

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  7. What a great idea! I am going to create a plan today for my home garden! I am already behind because I have no plan...

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  8. Great post on garden charts! I have one that is based off of experience as well as the chart from our local extension service. Actually, it probably needs updating -- thanks for reminding me!

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  9. Michelle, thanks! The charts really are handy, I find a graphic kind of chart to be particularly helpful.

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    Lori, Pam's book is the best! With your small garden I imagine that good planning is essential. It sounds like you have a really good system.

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    vrtlarica ana, Wow, 52 columns! You sound very organized. And I know from reading about your great harvests on your blog that your chart must be very effective.

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    Daphne, I find that I do a lot of winging it, with a year round garden I'm always faced with decisions to make about spaces that open up through the year. There's always something that poops out sooner than expected or produces longer than expected.

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    kitsapFG, I really admire someone like you who can put together a plan for the year the way you do. I can't seem to get quite that organized. Lucky for me that the mild climate here provides a lot of (or is it too much) flexibility. I'm hoping that by keeping better records that I'll be able to get more organized.

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    mac, have you checked with the local Master Gardeners (if there is such a thing there) to see if they have recommendation for your climate?

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  10. Michelle - I just dropped in to your blog for the first time today! (I was trying to track down Golden Corn Salad and google brought me to you. What IS William Woys Weaver up to nowadays?)

    A GOOD PIECE OF WORK, THIS IS!

    Thanks for your efforts! I'll be back (often!)

    www.freshandlocalcsa.com

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  11. I'm not so good with spread sheets, I think I can modify them pretty much but setting one up is dismal, would someone be willing to post theirs so i could have something to start from? or let me know where to find one? I could post it back for the maritime northwest when I've tried it out...

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