Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Plan Complete!

OK, my head hurts.  Two days...two days I have been beating my head over the Garden Plan for 2011.  My eyes are crossed and blurry and my now two least favorite words have become "Isolation Distance".

I decided to tackle companion planting, heirlooms and now that all in one year.  And not only did it drive me crazy, it did some of you too who had to field questions.  For that...thank you and sorry! :o)

See, as an "Heirloom Virgin" (hey, you guys started it!) I have alot to learn.  Like for instance, who ever thought long and hard about planting your various types of tomatoes in the same row?  Or your colored and hot peppers int the same row?  Please tell me I am not alone in the dunce hat again! 

Cross-Pollination.  Seed saving.  Do you see where that could lead?  MmmmHmmm straight to the need for "Isolation Distance".  The amount of space you need to keep between different varieties of the same plant in order to minimize or avoid cross breeding altogether.  Crap!

I have five different types of tomatoes I was wanting to try and nine different peppers.  I know, I know...maybe a little overboard.  But to me, that's half the fun!  Trying new stuff!

So in the end, I decided that my best was all I could do.  I don't have enough space to truly keep this from happening. 

I made my lists of companion plants and started laying things out, it got messy and spread out. 
I really wanted to do things to scale so that I wouldn't miscalculate.  But let's face it - me, graph paper -ain't happenin'.

So I hit up the Internet for garden planning software.  I looked at a just two.  One was complete garbage but the it was dreamy!  (translation=easy)  I found it at none other than Mother Earth News.  I should have known!  They offer a free 30 day trial.  After that, it is a $25 annual subscription.  In case you are interested you can Click Here

And if you are wondering, I get nothing for mentioning them and have no affiliation whatsoever. Just sharin'.

Computer stuff doesn't scare me in the least but if it does you, no worries really.  It just walks you right thru.  You can add your varieties, change the default spacing etc.  Planting timelines go by your climate and your area even.  Once I got going, it was pretty darn fun! 

I know you will not be able to actually read this...but here it is!  And it's perfectly to scale with our perennial crops even! 
See...told ya it looks small.  But on the computer screen it's not and of course I had to print it on one sheet.  Phew!  All done!!

Our garden is 76*38 and growing!  At least if I have my way it will.  (I actually thought it was bigger!)  I really want a grain patch somewhere.  We haven't had room to plant our own corn in 2 years.  We can go wider with the garden, but any longer and we will be running into our fruit trees.  Gotta have those!

So how is everyone elses planning coming along?  Do you have any software or tools that you love to use?

And before you tease, I am so not a Type A (anymore)!


  1. The planning is half the fun (and misery!) for sure.
    I do the plain old ruler and pencil. Not even graph paper---too scary
    I'm a dunce on the computer, but will go check out the one from Mother Earth even though I'm done.
    Your garden is HUGE. Mine is 48x40 and hubby says he's set his LAST fence post.

  2. yep, the isolation distance LOL! Don't worry so much year to year, as you will definitely not use up all the seeds in your tomato packets, so you will have plenty for next year... in the case of zombie/squirrel attack, just make sure you keep seeds aside stored well, and if the "real deal" happens, just plant a single variety of each item so you'll be able to save seed then, remember that in the event of "squirrel attack" survivalists are interested in food & nutrition, not having the most varieties LOL! Ah, if we could all have enough land to not worry about distances and wind, etc etc... that commune idea is sounding better and better, huh? LOL... think of the sweet sewing machines we could all have if we all pooled our resources and built a sewing center on the commune... eheeheee! You're doing great, and remember not to worry if your plans go wonky mid-season, it happens to us all but it sure is fun creating the plans!

  3. Out of all the things in this world I worry about, garden planning is not one. When the time comes to plant, I review my crude layout of where things were last year, I rearrange them for this year. My big two rules are never plant the tomatoes in the same place as before and plant heavy feeders where the peas were last year. Done. It is all heirloom, it all grows very well (until unforseen things like bugs and blight hit). I just think how nature does it. Seeds in the wind my friend. The rest just makes you crazy.

  4. When garden time comes, all I really worry about is getting the ground in good shape.i just plant and hope for the best outcome I can get. But your plan may work better. Blessings jane

  5. I'm with Sue in that I use the paper, pencil (eraser!), and ruler. I really enjoy plotting out the new garden paying attention to rotation of plants. It can get as complicated as I let it get . . . or as Jane says, easy-peasy-don't-sweat-it. I guess I fall somewhere in between. At any rate, once it's down on paper, I feel pretty good about the whole thing.

    You've done a super-conscientious job this year for which you'll reap benefits for years down the road. Next year will be easier, I promise.

    The thing about gardening is there is ALWAYS something to learn. Good thing we get so much out of the garden; we sure put a lot into it!! :o)

  6. Sue, hubby always says he's not making it bigger for me either. And now with the addition of fence posts this year for the chickens, I fear he might actually stick to it! Bummer!

    Erin, yup. I think I will find which varieties do well here this year and then shave it down the next. Sounds like a plan to me. That way when the squirrels come I'll be ready...with my gun :o)

    Jane, I normally do that too. But I got bit by a bug and well ya itched!

    Jane2, ditto that! And sometimes we don't put enough into the ground work. We need to improve there.

    MamaPea, I think I have enjoyed the learning the most. I would make a much better 'student' now then I ever did in school. We should live our lives backwards maybe. Youth is sometimes wasted on the ignorant.

  7. Weeeelll...I mooched (as in swiped) me a binder from work. I created a product "worksheet" to track notes/comments on each variety. I "laid out" my raised beds on paper (posts to come on all of this). I tend to do what Jane says though. Tomatoes someplace else this year and everthing else goes wherever I can stick it.

    Scientific aint it?

  8. Tami, see sometimes there are 'perks' to having a job! I'll bet our great-grandparents didn't rely on science, just their noggin.

  9. I plan with paper and pen, and only because we don't have a lot of space and I try to make the most of what we have. I learned so much in this post, its insane! We are also doing heirloom this year, but we only ever plant one variety of each veggie (space again) sO I guess we don't have to worry about the isolation dealy. But I will be hunting you down in a few years when we have our real farm with real space and asking you to repeat all this to me!

  10. Holy cow! your desk looks just like mine.

  11. I did manage to sort my seeds the other day and figure out what I need to get for this year. I need to draw out a quick drawing so I don't put something in the same place it was last time. I like to garden in squares, hubby in rows, so I'm gonna just draw in my ideas, not his. You are way ahead of me!

  12. Wow, I am so impressed! Looks great. Mine is not coming along that well at all! It's on my to do list, but for some reason I'm dragging my feet! Partly over the exact issues you're struggling with, where to plant my heirloom and open pollinated vegetables! I agree it's a tough subject to tackle. I can only hope to learn a little more each year and put what I learn into practice.

  13. Holy moly! I can't believe how awesome that is! I wish I had the ability to do that. I do a garden every year with heirlooms, some from ladies on Mary Jane's Farm (Google it! It's awesome!) But mine is never that planned out! Hooray for you!! :) I'm quite jealous!

  14. Normally, I just put the tomatoes in a different spot from last year, and try my best to do the same for the rest of them. This year, however, Hubby made me a real nice garden plot plan thingy on Excel for me to scribble on. And erase. Then scribble more. I'm putting all my tomatoes in 3 really big, really long beds. Then I'm just hoping for the best. I'm another heirloom virgin!