I am being extremely precise and organized this year when it comes to the garden. However, this gets quite time intensive. I’m sure that will lessen soon since a large part of the work is data entry. I have used a few tools for this. One of these is a fantastic online garden planner. It costs $25 per year to use (although there is a 30 day free trial), and I think it is well worth it. This planner has allowed me to plot where every plant is going to live in the space I have to work with. There are different layers you can have it display, which really helps when you are wanting work on the layout of the drip irrigation system. Or when you are designing the layout and placement of the beds and other features in the garden. Another very useful benefit of using a program like this, is that it provides sow/harvest times in an easy to understand layout. The program will also automatically determine the best date to sow the selected plants based on the average last frost date of where you live, which the program obtains from an online service. If you have hoop house, cold frames, and/or green houses, the program takes that into account and will automatically adjust the dates. There is a great deal more that this program can do, and if interested, I recommend you try it for the 30 days. After all, what is there to lose?
I also make use of Excel (or equivalent). I maintain a couple of spread sheets. One has the complete list of seeds I have selected to grow this year. It has them organized into type (Bean, Tomato, Pepper, etc.), cost, item number (I purchased all my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), and I use this to track when the seeds need purchased by, since I am buying them over a couple of months, and if I have purchased them yet.
The other spreadsheet contains planting information that tracks when I sowed the seeds, when they germinated, when I transplant them, when I fertilize, etc. And the item numbers of each plant cross-reference in the seed selection spread sheet.
I have found these “tools” indispensable this year. There are many ways to get and stay organized, and many tools that one can use. I am in no way saying that this way is the best. It is the best for me, right now. It may change, and if it does, I will update everyone. And while I am quite certain it is possible to grow a successful garden without spending the time to carefully plan the garden and track each varieties growth data, I think doing so will pay much larger dividends in the future, and I find it quite enjoyable to do it. However, I am, a geek, so take that into consideration.
Until next time, Happy Gardening!