Creating Your Own Garden Design/Plans
If you aren’t inclined to use the pen and paper to draw your garden plan, there are some other options available on the internet.
Growveg.com is a very useful online garden planner that enables you to create personalised garden plans and designs.
This program comes with an array of features:
· An online video tutorial on how to use the program e.g. tips on creating a garden layout (maximum length and width is 304.8m)
· Able to create multiple garden plans
· Select your location so that the software is able to figure out frost dates and planting dates for your area
· Has a comprehensive list of herbs, fruits and vegetables which can be used to populate your garden plan
· Provides detailed information about specific plant varieties e.g. soil conditions, sunlight requirements, crop spacing and sowing, planting and harvesting times
· Generates a printable summary of your garden plan, including the sowing and harvest months for plants you have selected based on the weather conditions for your local area
· Email reminders twice a month, listing what you need to sow and plant
· Plan next year’s garden using the previous year’s layout
· Can generate plans for crop rotation and succession planting
· Add your own notes
The cost to subscribe to this service is 15 pounds for one year or 25 pounds for two years. There is also a 30 day free trial on offer which gives you access to all the features of the software.
Growveg.com also has articles and blogs dedicated to imparting gardening advice. You don’t need to subscribe to view these.
Obviously, to get a feel for this program and to determine whether it suits your needs, you’ll need to experiment with it. If you are having difficulties, refer to the online tutorials or send an email under the support and feedback section of the planner.
Figure 1: Growveg.com garden planner ‘home page’. You can access videos on how to use the program and access all your recent garden plans.
Figure 2: Growveg.com garden design section.
Figure 3: Growveg.com Planting Schedule, indicating the type and quantity of plants selected and the sowing and harvest months based on the weather for your local area.
KITCHEN GARDEN PLANNER
Kitchen Garden Planner is another online garden planner that enables you to plan beds or rows up to 25 feet long. You can select from 50 crops. Only one crop variety is permitted in each square foot and the number of crops in each square foot is predetermined (based on spacing measures). Each vegetable you select comes with planting instructions. You can create as many different beds/rows as you wish. You can also save your plan – you’ll need to provide an email, title for your garden and postcode (I assume it only works for American postcodes; it rejected my Australian postcode).
Figure 4: Kitchen Garden Planner Design Your Row or Bed section where you can select the crops to add to each row/bed.
In the Design Your Site Map section you can amalgamate the rows/beds you previously created into a larger plan or use it to select a pre-planned garden if you’re unsure where to start. Each pre-planned garden comes with information about its dimensions and the vegetables in the plan.
Figure 5: Kitchen Garden Planner Design Your Site Map section
Kitchen Garden Planner is a free for all users but lacks a lot of features in comparison to Growveg.com. For example, Growveg.com has more crops to choose from, the information generated about sowing and harvesting times is relevant to your local area and you can make plans for crop rotation and succession planting. Like Growveg.com, Kitchen Garden Planner has a variety of articles and blogs for gardeners.
While it doesn’t have a garden design feature, Gardenguides.com has articles on garden design, spacing, pests and diseases and organic gardening. You can also join their online gardening community (for free) to participate in forums, share photos, write your own blog, meet other gardeners and to create a gardening calendar.
CREATING YOUR OWN CALENDAR
A way to keep track of all your gardening activities would obviously be a calendar. Use a flat desk-pad or wall calendar (provided it has enough space) to pencil in frost-dates, sowing and transplanting schedules, watering days, unusual weather patterns, maintenance schedule, milestones such as first harvest etc…. A calendar is also a useful reference for determining future crop rotation and succession planting schedules.
You can download free printable Microsoft Word calendars at Calendars ThatWork.com.
Example using a portrait calendar format (see picture below; not the most visually appealing): Instead of having an image on the opposite page, use this space to detail the specific crops you are planting for the month (spacing, duration until maturity, ideal soil temperatures, sowing details), the average weather conditions for the month (average sunlight, rainfall, humidity, temperatures) and perhaps a drawing of your entire garden layout etc…. The Gardenate website may also be a useful reference for the creation of your calendar; it details planting and harvesting schedules for a variety of crops based on your climate zone.
Figure 6: Example of a personalised gardening calendar.