Tuesday, March 03, 2009

seed planning.


This weekend we took some time to finish our seed prep and sort, organize, chart, plot, and plan. We are at our first seed starting week, and have all the lights and warming mats ready to go too. Woo hoo!


I like to figure it all out in advance with all the staggered start dates and transplant dates listed so that when we are busy and out more later in the spring it is all done already and I just have to follow my chart. Being sorted also allows the boys to participate a lot more during the whole process...they can find the current batch, count out seeds, and plant them in addition to helping with the lighting and watering throughout.


For the seeds, I like to use a photo box. I put the seeds in the box, sorted by seed starting date, earliest in front, direct sow later in back. I group them by the start date relative to last frost'ish. Last frost is marked 0 week. So before that is -1 to -11, etc., and after that is +1, etc. I also mark the cards with plant date in relation to last frost. I print out a calendar and mark weeks pre and post frost on it and stick it to the wall next to my seed trays. Once the seeds are all organized in my box I keep them in a cool place and we just have to grab the next batch at the right time, and start another tray.


We also finished up the grid layouts. For the community garden it is simple because it is a square - I can calculate how many plants can fit per square foot easily, based on how far apart they need to be and how much space I marked on our plot grid. Sooo I know how many seedlings to start. With planting in the yard, I guess. I plant in wavy curvy beds along the house near other plantings with no clear measurements and so just estimate where and how many. It works. If you know your space, grid and plan away, but don't be afraid to make a guess and start a bunch of seeds and stick 'em in when they are ready. If you have extra, spread the love. My neighbors are always thrilled if I have a few extra tomato or pepper seedlings in May! And just about anything can grow in a pot too, so if you run out of space in the bed, try putting a few in pots and then compare how they do.

This year I feel the need to be more organized than usual, since we will have the three plots - home yard, family community garden plot, and kids community garden plot.  My husband helped me make a cool spreadsheet for what we are growing where, how many, and with all the dates. It should help me keep track of everything, and manage it somewhat as we go. I'm going to make a master blank version and post it later if anyone is interested. 

I also have found some good online tools for calculating and planning dates - here are *just* a few::

You Grow Girl’s Lazy Gardener’s Seed Starting Chart

Spring Planting Calendar

Farmer's Almanac Planting Timetable

While it is still cold outside, starting seeds really makes you feel like spring is indeed on the way and will be here in no time. Well, maybe not no time (I do live in Wisconsin after all), but I'm looking on the bright side! :)

29 comments:

Yarrow said...

Oh you are so organized! I am envious, I love the photo box idea. Need to us ethat one. Thanks for sharing and many garden blessings.

Crescent Moon said...

You are so much more organized than I am!

TheOrganicSister said...

Good food for thought. Thanks for posting this. I've been working on the schedule for seed starting and planting. It's pretty overwhelming. How long have you been using this system? I'll have to check out those links and reread your system again to see how it would work for me.

~Tara

TheOrganicSister said...

P.S. Please share the spreadsheet!

~Tara

Clare said...

I just stumbled upon your blog. It is really fun. I loved the mushroom post.I will definetely be back. Clare

denise said...

Tara - This is the first year for this system. Last year I kept seeds in the box and used a notebook for the calendar, but ended up not really using it well, so I think the seeds IN the box WITH the dates right on it will be easier to use. I tried to keep it really simple by grouping seeds into relative start dates (looking at the info on the packet) and coding everything by how many weeks before/after frost. My oldest son already figured it out and was counting to see how many are going in this week, so I think it is simple enough for me to keep it going smoothly. I'll post the spreadsheet tomorrow if I have it ready!

paola said...

Wow you are very organized! At the moment I just have only the first sprout of senf (indoor, waiting for non freezing night). Late we will sow basil (for the pesto genovese), dill and something else (no organization here!). We have only a balcony, but very sunny!

Sarah said...

I can see that I"m going to learn a lot about gardening from you this year.

Joy said...

wow! You are insanely organized. You know, in a good way. :)

I nominated you for a Lemonade Award so come on over.

Lisa Anne said...

We are using spread sheets this year to stay on top of all the successive plantings, I think it will be helpful to know at the beginning of each week what I need to accomplish, farming is such a head game. We also try to plant as much as possible with the Biodynamic Planting calender just to make things a bit more complicated for ourselves, of course I am very flexible with this because sometimes things just need to be done no matter what the stars and planets say.
You are so organized it is very inspiring, that is a lot to juggle to

ladybug-zen said...

oh how exciting! you inspire me, Denise. i can't wait to read further posts regarding your gardening adventures. i'm learning so much from you!

nettlejuice said...

Don't you love those little maps of the garden-to-come? The energy is sent out into the universe and the pure potentiality is perculating beneath the surface of reality, just waiting to burst into form.

Here's to garden planning, and the bursting of springtime.

Erin said...

You are so organized! Thanks for the useful links.
Peace.

Lynch Family said...

No wonder you can grow so much more than I do! LOL! Rockin' stuff!

Tara said...

Sharing this planting process with you is so inspiring.... I'm getting loads of ideas- I just asked husband to buy as many of the heirloom seeds his store sells as he can manage lol :0)

Dawn said...

That photo box system is great! My seeds should be arriving any day now...I can't wait! :)

Stephanie said...

Yay!!

I cannot imagine trying to keep up with three lots.
(it makes me want to cry thinking about it.)
:/

:) But you're much, much better at it than me, so I'll be happy for you!
(in a wierd kind of way) ;)

Lisa said...

Very inspiring! Can't wait to see your gardens this summer! The boys must love helping out.

karichuckroryskylar said...

Very inspiring. Maybe this will prompt us to get organized this weekend. Thanks.

Dawn said...

No garden for us yet :( but we are getting our first CSA box tomorrow!!! Can't wait!

:)

Pampered Mom said...

I love the photo box idea for your seed packets - it looks so very neat! We mostly utilize spreadsheets w/a grid on it representing each raised bed(one each for Spring/Summer/Fall) w/color coding for each planting date. Last year we mostly used plants we purchased at the Farmer's Market and some seeds we sowed directly into the raised bed.

This year we're starting our own seeds so you're method will definitely help me start to wrap my head around what needs to be done!

Carin said...

Wow, how organised! As someone who considers herself a gardening novice, but who is desperate to get into it this year, it was an eye opener. Can't wait to see how it all turns out.

Dawn said...

Thanks for sharing your process...wonderful foresight! looking forward to seeing the garden(s) grow!!

Lizz said...

You are so organized.

Mandy aka Mandaroo said...

"I'm not worthy" (kneeling & bowing down to you) LOL You are soo organized! We just planted seeds indoors and need to put them outside now, but they're pretty much just labeled and ready to go. Hopefully, we can get to your level someday ; )

Erin said...

Thanks for the tips and links! This spring will commence my foray into growing my own veggies.

Lisa said...

Wow, your organization is amazing!

piscesgrrl said...

That's what I get for leaving my winter projects (painting) undone until now - I haven't thought much about my garden!

Lynnie said...

Wow, you're organized! My husband and I are getting a booth at the Farmer's Market this year. We are.....well, NOT so organized! We have a messy spiral notebook with lots of things taped in and hanging out and we keep our seeds in a brown grocery bag! Looking at your system makes me dream of one myself! Thanks for the links, too!