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?