It’s December which means it’s cold and dark and wet in our garden, but that doesn’t mean the fun stops. No no no. In fact, I have a list of jobs that need to be done that are specifically put aside for those cold wet days, because they can all be done indoors, either in the house or in the greenhouse. Hurrah. Today is one such day and we’re planning our garden for next year. So how I work is that I have broken the mammoth task of planning my entire year’s vegetable growing into 3 steps. Breaking these huge jobs down always makes them feel less daunting.
So what I’ve done for this week’s video is to take you through how I created my vegetable garden plan by one step at a time.
Make a list of everything you want to grow… go mad, the list can be as big as you like but make sure you don’t forget anything. Then when you have that list, whittle it down. Think about what you actually eat, because to be able to get the absolute best out of your garden (produce wise), you need to make the best use of the space and growing things just for the sake of it will use up valuable space.
So got your list? Good… have you whittled it down? Really, I mean have you been truthful, brutal even? Awesome. OK, the next thing you need to do is either go through your seed packets or by searching on the internet, mark off the vital details for all the veggies you want to grow. Record when they should be sown, should you sow them indoors or can they be sown directly into the soil in the garden. It’s also good to note when those veggies should be ready to harvest.
Now a good thing to remember is that seed packets or websites will give you a good guide, but be aware of your garden and conditions too. For example, I know that we can still be getting frosts in late May, so not all baby plants would be happy in my garden then, some may prefer to be safe and cosy in the greenhouse. You do you 😀
We need a plan… Now I’ll paste a link to my garden plan spreadsheet at the bottom and you are welcome to make your own copy to use, or just do things your own way, but I like to take the list and all the details I have noted down and put them in a nice visual format so that I can see what needs to be sown when. I like colours rather than text for this as being dyslexic, I find too much text is just an accident waiting to happen – like tomatoes sown in December or Aubergine in a garden bed in January – eek!
I do this by listing all the things I want to grow on the left, and then marking a column next to them for each month. That makes it easy to go down the list and mark which month to sow each of the seeds, when to transplant them, whether to sow in the greenhouse or direct into the raised beds etc.
Now I think out of everything, this is the step that is going to be most important for me. You have your list, and the dates or when to sow and when to harvest. Now I’m going to decide where to grow each of these crops. This sounds way simpler than it is… this is now all about being aware of what is growing and when, what stage it’s at and when you will have gaps where you can sow another plant. For example. I have made the mistake in previous years of growing all my bean plants at the same time. This means I end up with HUGE harvests of beans, more than I can eat, but it also means all my plants stop producing at pretty much the same time so I am left beanless. Which is not a good situation for anyone growing food. So to combat this, you don’t grow all your plants at the same time, you do something called succession sowing. All this means is that I grow a few plants at a time, at different stages. Say 4 weeks apart. This way as one plant is finished producing, another is just ready to start. Meaning I only get the volume of veggies that we need and that I can reuse space to grow the next lot of plants and extend my harvest and make the most out of a small space.
So to do this, I make a note of where I am growing each plant. For me, it’s a choice between the greenhouse or one of the raised beds. But keeping track of it on the spreadsheet helps me visualise what is growing where at any given time so that I can see the gaps that appear each month, where I can grow the next lot of plants. I even draw this out visually on my spreadsheet to help me plan.
So there you go, my 3 steps to food abundance. I don’t think I could manage this without a spreadsheet, so as promised, here is my sheet. Feel free to make a copy for yourself.