The unseasonably warm weather has prompted me to seriously start planning my gardens for the 2012 growing season. Because I followed Flash’s suggestion mentioned in my December blog–Preparing garden to “sleep”, I will put forth less energy than others. I have been saved from the back breaking job of pulling up ground cover as Anthoni my nearby neighbor is doing in his garden.
Instead of planting one of the various types of ground cover for “putting my garden to sleep,” I have selected using a combination of mulch and cardboard. The flattened cardboard boxes used last year to keep weeds from growing during the “sleep period” have decomposed. This organic matter is now incorporated into the soil. Spading my soil in various spots, I have found lots of earthworms and other organisms that will support a rich soil structure.
Skipping over the weeding and pulling up ground cover I have moved ahead to planning my garden. Planning is as important as attending to your garden. This season my garden is new and double the size of my previous one. Because I don’t know what the previous gardener grew, plant rotation is a hit and miss proposition for me. My plan is to make sure my plants have adequate soil nutrients. Mulching my garden with horse manure last season will definitely help, and rotating plants is important as well. Sandy, another gardener knows this well, she maintains a record book of where and what she planted from one season to the next. She has several years of notes, realizing plant rotation reduces the return of the same pests. Also, it allows soil to replenish from previous crop deletion of nutrients.
Instead of maintaining a notebook, this year as I am using Grow Veg.com planning guide. (See advertisement on this page.) It is an excellent guide for gardening, and you can retain this year’s plan to use for plant rotation next year. Grow Veg.com continues to refine this software, adding new and useful tools to help we gardeners. Learn more about crop grouping on their site. Essentially, there are four major groups: 1) Legumes, beans; 2) Root vegetables, onion, radish; 3) leafy greens, spinach, broccoli; 4) Fruit-bearing – tomato, eggplant. Grow Veg.com lists eight crop families. I strongly urge you to visit Grow Veg’s web site to get a more in depth discussion of crop rotation and crop families. You will find this extremely useful and informative.
This year Grow Veg.com has announced software guide you can download to your iPad, and later this spring your iPhone. I prefer using the iPad is preferred because of the larger screen. There are lots of guides out there, but the Garden Planning Pro software has proved invaluable in mapping out what, when, and where to plant my vegetables. Having this software is extremely helpful not only in planning and maintaining, but also in harvesting. During the growing season I will receive alerts about harvesting, planting a second crop, and other guides to increase crop yield. Below is my initial plans using Grow Veg.com planning software. Soon, I will prepare for spring planting knowing what, when and where to plant.