Although we did have some great harvests last year, we also made many gardening mistakes including using no garden planning at all. This year we wanted to make sure we did things the right way. That’s not to say we won’t make mistakes, of course. We decided to start smart, though, with actually planning. Seems like a “no brainer,” right? It can be a lot more work than you think, though!
So this year I decided we were going to plan the perfect garden, and I would be the perfect planner. If you’ve been around Pea of Sweetness for a while, though, you have probably figured out I am far from the perfect planner. In short, I’d describe myself as a “living in chaos trying to keep my head on straight” kind of person. It’s not that I have to be. I’m sure with some discipline I could actually feel like I have it together for once. Yet just the thought is laughable! Sometimes I am just unapologetically myself – the unorganized, live life day by day (or hour to hour) person. Ah, but I digress.
So we started with tilling up the area really well again. We were going to start from scratch. We weeded more thoroughly before planting as well. Now that those steps were out of the way, it was time to plan the finer details!
The idea was to start with a grid chart so we could measure our garden and go from there. Somewhere there was some miscommunication, though, as I thought my husband was making the chart, and he didn’t realize it was something we needed for the garden ASAP. Needless to say, there is no such grid chart.
So how do you plan when the planning tool you were going to use is non-existent? The best way people addicted to apps know how! You guessed it – search for an app!
When to Plant App
My search for an app actually began while we were purchasing seeds and plants. We had quite the late frost here in Northwest Ohio followed by periods of rain. We had started our garden late last year, but this year we were even later! I needed to know what we could sow by seed and what windows we already missed. I found an app called “When to Plant” (on iOS), and it did cost a little money. It served its purpose, but honestly, I don’t feel I have the full grasp of its design and what it offers.
Because I needed it so last minute, I also didn’t have the opportunity to search the different apps for this particular purpose. For just under $2, though, I figured it was worth a go. I probably could have searched using the browser, but it was definitely nice to have a quick list I could easily choose from!
Of course, the task of actually measuring and planning where those plants and seeds were going to go was still ahead of me. There were a few things I truly wanted to consider this year in our planning – plants in relation to each other. I had been reading up on companion planting and also learning more about what shouldn’t be planted together based on nutrient demand.
There was still one problem, though. We needed to get things planted ASAP, and I didn’t feel like I had equipped myself very well with this information. So when I looked more closely at all the information about each plant type in the “When to Plant” app, I was thrilled to see it had suggested companion plants.
Plant Society App
After creating a document with everything we were planting, their suggested neighbors, and the amount of sunlight needed, I was ready to move to the next step. It was time to plot it all out. This time I did a little more comparison for just the right app. There were so many options, and many of these apps cost more than just a couple of dollars. I noticed something weird, though. They all basically looked the same, and they all had pretty bad ratings. I was not paying over $10 for an app that has a bad rating.
The good news is I didn’t have to pay anything at all. I found an amazing app for free! I figured it’s worth a shot, right? I’d give it more credit than that. I think it is amazing! The Plant Society App is a free iOS app with tons of features.
On it I was able to:
- Create a Garden Layout with the size of our garden. You can even create multiple gardens, but we only have one. It is presented in a square foot grid format.
- Map the garden and make notes where there is full sun, partial shade and full shade.
- Add herbs and veggies to your plot.
- Get an alert if I am trying to plant something where it shouldn’t go.
- See the number of approximate plants that will fit in each area.
- Print out a PDF of the garden.
Although it’s easy enough to see on my phone, I actually like having the PDF printout because I can see it all at once. On my phone, I obviously have to scroll to see each area.
I really feel like this garden planning combination was a much better option for us rather than planning it all out on paper. The app didn’t have all of the veggies we were planting, but it allows you to fill information in and even add a picture.
I did make one key mistake, though. I knew when I tried to place a plant where it shouldn’t go in regards to sunlight I would get an exclamation point. I thought it would do the same for plants that are high demanding and shouldn’t be next to each other. To see that, though, I actually needed to click on the icon of the veggies holding hands.
I discovered it too late, and I do have a handful of plants that are high demanding next to each other. It also shows me the very good neighbor choices I made as well. Unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good, but I still figure it can’t be nearly as bad as last year when things were extremely overcrowded. We shall see!
Obviously, I would recommend adding this step as well to make sure you don’t have many high demanding plants next to each other. Ideally, I would also fill in the entire plan before actually planting anything, but the guys (my dad and husband) really wanted to get everything planted right then and there, so I was kind of adding and adjusting the plan as we went!
Although it wasn’t perfect, our garden planning was thought out much better this time. The apps really made it easy, and I only had to spend a couple of bucks! I’m definitely going to be sticking with this plan again next year (and use the resources correctly)! How was your garden planning?