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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Easy Plan Your Garden

by Tam Linsey

Spring is in the air, and a writer's mind turns happily to … gardening.

Yes, I have spring fever, as it were, with two feet of snow still covering the yard. My window sills are filled with rampant seedlings. Once the ground thaws, it will be tempting to install each and every one of them somewhere in my 1000 plus square foot garden. Those itsy bitsy broccoli transplants sure look like they could be put close together, but I've learned the hard way not to fudge on space. Just like a well executed story, with each scene and emotion in its proper place, a garden does best when space and timing are planned.

As soon as the seed catalogs hit my mailbox in January, I get out the graph paper and start drawing. It's like dreaming on paper. A lot like writing a novel.
You can see my garden on Google Earth.
Pretty cool, huh?

I like old fashioned graph paper because that's how I've gardened for twenty years. Plus I can take the sheet right into the garden with me as I plant (as long as I use pencil and not water soluble ink. Another lesson learned.) I garden intensively, meaning not in rows. My raised beds are 3 feet wide, and as much as 20 feet long.

This year I discovered a free, online garden planner from Territorial Seed Company. It has a built in database of plants, plus your geographic area to help you with timing. And it makes cute little pictures to tell you exactly how many of each plant will fit in your space. So this year I'm moving into the digital age.

Do you garden? Give the planner a go and tell me what you think.

© Tam Linsey, 2011. All rights reserved.


Margaret Tanner said...

Wow tam,
You do sound like a committed gardner. I love gardening, but I am fairly ad-hoc the way I do it. I do have some beautiful roses, one in particular called Just Joey. It is a huge apricot/orange colour and has the most wonderful perfume.



Paty Jager said...

I would love to garden but I have a brown thumb. I can barely keep house plants alive. My husband can grown anything but he's so busy with ranching and his day job that he doesn't have the time to garden. When we get semi-retired he has plans for a green house and garden. I like the idea of fresh vegetables because I can cook!

Tam Linsey said...

Margaret, I love scented roses! I wish I could grow the hybrids up here in Alaska. Alas, I must stick to the Rugosas.

Paty, I garden mostly veggies for just that reason. Even the flowers I grow tend to be edible. I hope your husband can realize his dream for garden space.

Judith Ashley said...

Awesome seeing your garden from space! I'm looking out the window at my backyard where I seem to be winning my war with Marsh Marigolds (no you can't dig them out much less pull them out). It is taking 2 - 3 bouts with Round-Up to kill them. Normally I don't kill anything but this plant literally took over my yard! I think it would survive Alaska's harsh winters it is so hardy...

I used to garden but since getting down on my hands and knees is pretty much out of the quesetion I'm more into pots for my plants and minimal up-keep for the rest of the yard. Will have the landscape fabric down with Lots of Bark by the middle of May...then the view out my window will be more serene.

Lovee the idea of a digital garden. I may check it out to see the cute virtual plants with no weeds!

Tam Linsey said...

Marsh marigolds, yikes! They do have them in Alaska's panhandle, I believe. At least they flower.

I have horsetail ferns in one section of the garden to battle. They sound pleasant compared to your battle. I'm a stickler about chemicals and refuse to use Round-Up or anything else. I figure If I don't let them seed, and deprive them of leaves to make food, they'll die off eventually.

I just keep pulling, just keep pulling, pulling, pulling ...

Kara Lennox said...

I feel so inadequate! I just put in four tomato plants, six zucchini, one raspberry plant and a few herbs, and I'm calling it done!

Tam Linsey said...

That sounds like a wonderful garden, Kara. Six zucchini - that will be a lot to harvest!
I started out with a 4x4 garden bed, and it has grown into this over the course of 15 years. I leave a full quadrant "fallow" with a cover crop precisely because I can't keep up with it otherwise.

Sarah Raplee said...

We gardened vegetables every year when the kids were growing up. They loved planting and harvesting. Weeding? Not so much!

Now we stick to the flowers, bushes and trees. When he retires, my husband dreams of a greenhouse and a garden, like Paty's husband. :)

Planning on the computer makes sense; farmers have done so for many years using GPS.

I love the photos of your garden, Tam! Lets me garden vicariously. LOL

Tam Linsey said...

Thanks, Sarah! My kids tease that I take more photos of my plants than I do of them :) I tell them its because the plants sit still for me! lol

Judith Ashley said...

The first year I battled Marsh Marigolds, I pulled the leaves. Then I learned they were a bulb. I then dug them out. They spread.
I had my whole family out and we went through the ground, inch by inch shifting for all bulbs. That was last year.

This year they covered more of my yard than ever! I was told I could spray with vinegar on a really hot day but - here in Oregon we don't get really hot days this time of year and this plant dies back into the earth by late Spring...

They infiltrated my violets and columbine - two favorite plants so while I've gained the upper hand for now I'm not naive enough to think I've won.

Nursery staff have said that they will continue to spread and spread and spread. They've reached my front yard and I'm sure have gone under the fence to my neighbor's yard.

Yes, Tam, they do bloom - a bright yellow flower but I no longer see it as a pretty flower that brightens my day.

I held off using Round Up for 5 - 6 years but they just kept spreading and spreading and spreading...don't know why flowers I like can't be that prolific!

I have tried your methods with success on less aggressive plants. It was with a sad heart that I resorted to chemicals this year. If I hadn't I'd have had nothing else in my yard next year.

Oh yes, I tried 3 - 4 inches of bark - they still came back. Need to stop the rant...and enjoy your garden.

I've taken more pictures of my Larch Diana tree than I have of my I can chuckle at your exchange with your kids.

I'll be blogging about "Diana" and posting her pictures in the next week or so. She's been with me almost a year...and I'm thrilled she is doing so well.

Tam Linsey said...

Judith, I totally understand reaching the end of your rope. Last year I did resort to an insecticide on imported currant worms after several years trying other methods. Sometimes you just have to "pull out the big guns." I'm sorry this invasive weed is turning out to be such a headache for you. I can't wait to see photos of your larch!

Savannah Chase said...

I wish I had a bigger garden. All we have is the little one that is in the front of the house. I would love to plant some trees and veggies.

doxymom said...

Thanks! I can use all the help I can get to counteract my natural black thumb. My garden is fairly large but seems to be hit or miss--excellent one year, a bust the next. Last year all the tomatoes and melons smelled like wet diapers and I don't know why. I've been composting all my eggshells and peelings since last year so hopefully this year I'll get some edible food. LOL.

I've been using to track my plantings but it's not much help for me with planning.

Thanks, again and good luck!


Tam Linsey said...

Savannah, if space is an issue, you can get some really neat dwarf fruit trees these days. Make sure you buy from a reputable company (hopefully in your area.) On the other hand, a small garden you can manage to maintain is miuch better than a huge one overrun with weeds!

Doxymom, glad you found the information useful! Don't forget your local cooperative extension agency (if you're in the US. I don't know about other countries) if you have questions - like why your tomatoes and melons might smell like wet diapers! My guess would be you had a wet year, and perhaps a fungal infection of the blossoms and/or fruit.
I wasn't familiar with I'll have to check it out. Thanks!