It’s all in the planning

It is still raining.  There are puddles on my puddles.  Gardening is still very much out of the question.  I’m seriously hoping the wild winds will help dry everything up.  But I still needed to itch my green thumb so by the warmth of the fire I settled in to a day to tackling a project I’d been meaning to get onto for ages – planning the garden.

My garden as a blank canvas

My garden as a blank canvas

In the early days I just planted stuff willy nilly with no real understanding of what the plant needs, and experience taught me a few sharp lessons.  Plants have their own sense of timing and their own personal space.    So then I took this acquired knowledge and improved my planting and my timing and each season I tweaked and adjusted until I found a good balance for a successful garden.  But I never really formalised things.  I collected my seeds based on desire and then once they were seedlings I moved them about the bed in their pots until I felt I’d got it just right and then began digging holes.  Sometimes I even used a ruler.  So it wasn’t like I wasn’t doing the right thing.

But I’d never really sat down and planned the actual garden, what goes where and how many of each plant do I want or need.  The garden is so big it was quite daunting.  Today was the day I decided to change that.  I printed off some grid sheets and cut out my garden beds to scale.  There are still more than 30 beds, but less than 40.   I’m not comfortable acknowledging exactly how many there actually are.

seeds too old to be any good

There was a surprising number of seeds too old to be any good. Actually it isn’t a surprise at all!

Because there are only a determined the number available spaces in each bed, I sorted through my vast seed collection to find the perfect plants for each spot and where things were missing I sourced more and wrote lists to buy more seeds.  I tried to be adventurous but only to the point that we’d actually eat the produce and not waste it by staring at it wondering how exactly it was meant to be eaten.  I was quite restrained and for the majority I only selected things I knew we would eat.

seed sowing schedule

I have a plan for my seed sowing schedule

As I approached each grid, I gathered together all the seeds I had that would be likely to grow in there and had a good hard look.  I always try to write the year I opened the seed packet in the top corner, because once the seal on that foil packet is open, how well the seeds keep is down to how well I’ve stored them.  I got quite ruthless and threw out any that were 2013 or older.  This was a bit of a shock to my system as Hubby the Un-Gardener will tell you I’m a bit of a hoarder.  Of course I’d deny it, however, there were some really old ones in there!

The garden deconstructed

The garden deconstructed: This pile of little pieces of paper is very precious… it has all the details. I mustn’t lose it.

Then I looked at what was left and asked myself if there were any I didn’t actually want to grow again.  I now have quite a pile to drop off to the seed exchange at the local library.  Any duplicates are also destined for the library.  This left me with manageable pile for each bed, and quite a few gaps that could be filled with the new and the exciting!

Seed tin

My seed tin hasn’t been as organised in years! Gosh it feels good

I carefully read the instructions on each seed packet to find out just how far apart they need to be and allotted them a space in the garden.  I then made a note of when would be a good time to plant them off as some like a head start – like peppers and others pretty much prefer last minute, like the cucumbers.  As I worked my way across the garden I not only ended up with an invaluable planting plan and a list of how many of each variety I need to grow, but I also ended up with a sowing schedule that will allow me to plod along through the spring without having to think too hard about what needs to be done.

This is all very fabulous and the most organised I’ve ever been.  All that needs to happen now is I need to follow my own instructions and the rain needs to stop so the ground can dry out and I can get on with the task of getting the outside of the garden spring ready.

Come again soon – we are now in the last month of winter and it will whiz by.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

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14 Comments on “It’s all in the planning

  1. Wow, that’s a lot of beds! I currently have four, and am in the process of making a fifth. Being down in Christchurch, we aren’t getting as much rain and I’m able to make the most of the slow growing winter season to do some diy landscaping using old bricks, including perhaps making another bed for strawberries this year. I’m new here but really enjoy reading your blog so far!

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    • Hi Stephanie. Thanks for stopping by. Oh I am jealous of your dry garden. I need to get onto my strawberries but it is too wet to do anything at all.
      All the best with your growing season this year.
      Cheers Sarah : o)

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  2. Whoa, well done! I actually sat down late last winter and wrote everything in a wall calendar. And then promptly forgot to check it for a few months… The transition from Willy nilly isn’t made in a day, apparently.

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    • Me too! It is sunny now, but I don’t trust it to stay that way. The boffins say it’ll be rainy for loads more days to come! Thanks Helen for your thoughtful words.
      Cheers Sarah : o)

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  3. Hasn’t the weather been awful… I don’t normally mind rain, but I can only garden on weekends, because I work fulltime, and I haven’t been able to get out in the garden for weeks. It’s getting terribly depressing only seeing the sun in small 10-minute patches between the next rain shower! The seed exchange at your library sounds like a brilliant idea. I don’t think ours does that, but I wonder if I could suggest it to them? I always seem to have seeds that I have grown one year but won’t grow again, because they grew too big for my small garden, or didn’t thrive, or I just plain didn’t like them. I would be glad to pass them on to whoever would use them.

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  4. Sounds very similar to whats been happening at my place – winter is a bit flat in the garden here, so I get my lawn in order, sort my seeds and plan what I will so in summer.

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