How I Garden Plan

By The Petite Plantation - April 15, 2020

As the winter solstice comes and goes, the eagerness to grow gets stronger but in our climate there are FIVE months from the winter solstice before it is safe for plants to be grown in the outdoors in the garden. That is a lot of down time which is typically dedicated to dreaming up my next garden and our permaculture farm projects.

In this post I am going to share with you how I plan my garden, step by step. I'll also give you an amazing life hack but you'll have to read through to get it!

Before I can get to the garden planning, I first need to have several lengthly discussions with my husband to figure our which larger permaculture farm projects we need to complete. Our first year on our farm included projects like building a greenhouse, building a barn, bringing in fill, and topsoil (we discovered we don't have soil, we have three inches of root systems from wild blueberries, stunted birch trees and wild azaleas then dense grey clay and that we needed to bring in soil).

This discussion helps give me reasonable boundaries and expectations of my permaculture garden. It helps me set a limit, or budget, for organic matter or trellis materials and helps us plan more than our garden spaces!

Once I am ready to start garden planning, I gather my supplies and seeds! I use a pencil, an eraser, pencil crayons to colour code, and a garden planner.

The garden planner you see here is available in my Etsy shop for just a couple bucks and you can use it year after year and if you sign up for our email list, you'll get a coupon for our shop.

I also grab my seed catalogs for inspiration!

To begin, I lay out all my seeds and sort them by their type. I make piles of annual flowers, perennial flowers, herbs, peppers, squashes, baracassas etc. This helps keep myself organized but also refreshes my memory of what I want or don't want to grow. It also helps me figure out what seeds I still need to purchase for the upcoming garden season.

I like to store all my seeds together in an adorable woven basket! I have seen many clever storage ideas but I like the basket because I can easily flip through them.

First I use the garden planner to fill out what my garden goals are, any special projects and a list of plants I really want to grow.

I like to use layout page to draw my hugelkultur raised garden beds to size. One square on the page is one square foot in the garden. I like to take note of where the sun rises and sets so I know which areas will get more shade than others and better plan where the taller plants will cast shadows, and what will grow in those shadows I've created with my plants and so on.

Now the fun really begins! I start with all the larger crops, all the vegetable that we are growing a lot of but also the veggies that are just BIG like squash and pumpkins. This will look different for everyone depending on their climate and what their garden goals are! 

If you are new to vegetable gardening, I have a really great post with the easiest vegetables to grow if you want to get started!

Once I know where the larger crops are going to go, I use the companion plant chart in the garden planner to place my small crops, herbs and annual flowers that will also go in the garden.

I love to mix my herbs and flowers with in my portager garden to attract beneficial insects to the garden, help with pollination and help with pest control in the garden because some of these bugs will eat the bugs that want to eat my plants! You can find a list of flowers that attract pollinators to the garden here.

After I have drawn up my garden plan, I make a list of the seeds I need to start indoors, and when they will need to be started. We live in Zone 4a on the Canadian Hardiness Map, which is a Zone 3 for the US Hardiness Map, so our gardening season is quite short.

I then take all the seeds I'll need to start 12 weeks, 10 weeks, 8 weeks, 6 weeks, and 4 weeks, and group them together so when the time comes, I just have to grab the bundle of seeds. I learned this from my friend Breanne from Burch Acres on Instagram, smart gal! It helps keep you organized so you aren't searching for your seeds at the last minute!

Okay, so you remember how I said I had a gardening hack for you? Well, this is it! Create a google calendar just for gardening! I set these reminders or events as yearly reminders so I do it once and never have to think about it again. It keeps me on track so I know what I am doing and when I am doing it! Here are the reminders and extra info I have in my google garden calendar:

12 weeks to the last frost date
(start things like echinacea, lavender, milkweed)

10 weeks to the last frost date
(start cayenne, jalapeno, bell peppers)

8 weeks to the last frost date
(start tomatoes)

6 weeks to the last frost date
(anything else to start indoors)

4 weeks to the last frost date
(start annual flowers)

last frost date
(safe to sow outdoors, start hardening off)

12 weeks to first frost date
(sow fall crops)

first day of fall
(plant garlic)

first frost date
(risk of potential frost from here on out)

What you put into your garden calendar will vary for everyone but this gives you a great idea! Lastly, if you'd like to purchase the garden planner you saw, you can purchase it here for just a couple of dollars!

If you enjoyed this garden planning post, please consider sharing with your friends on social media where ever you like to hang. Because, sharing really is caring! Sharing this post also supports my rambles and allows me to continue doing just that!

Thank you for taking the time to stop in on our humble blog and we hope you come back soon! If you want to see what we are up to lately, find us on our Facebook page or on Instagram!


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