Tag Archives: design

Online Garden Planning Tools

12 Feb

There are several online tools available that would help make your garden planning easier.  You can find some for free; others are available for a small cost.  Play around with the free offers before you buy to make sure that the program will do all of the things that you want it to do.  The free planning tools may be good for a simple layout but the more involved you get with your garden, the more you should expect the planning tool to do, which may come at a cost.

Last year I used the Kitchen Garden Planner from Gardener’s Supply Company.  It was free and allowed me to plan rows any size or width.  There are 50 crops to choose from.  You can create an account and save your garden information on their website or print it out.  They also offer pre-planned gardens for you to follow which might be the best choice for a beginner.  This planner works well to get a general layout for a new garden.  http://www.gardeners.com

Vegetable Garden Planner is free and has more to offer.  You must register to become a full member giving you the ability to create your garden, a journal, upload photos and keep track of your information.  They also have smart phone apps.  I downloaded the app for my iPhone which provides a lot of plant and gardening information.  What I found most interesting and useful was the “Family Feeder Calculator”.  You can select a “vegetable”, “herb” or “rare”, and then how many people are in your family, and it tells you how many plants to grow.  I chose from a drop down menu two people in my family and then selected pole beans for the crop to grow.  The recommendation I was then given was to plant 40 plants! Most experience gardeners know that bean plants produce a lot of fruit so would make an adjustment, but for a beginner, you may become known around your neighborhood as the bean person, which might not be all bad if you are really into beans.  There is mention on the bottom of the page that it does now account for succession planting.  Up to 90 crops are available with this program.  http://www.vegetablegardenplanner.com

            The Interactive Vegetable Garden Planner from GrowVeg is what I will be using this year.   Go to GrowVeg.com  and sign up to use the 30 day free trial and if you like it, you can purchase an annual membership for $25.  With this program you can plan your garden to the inch or chose metric measurements if you like.   You have the option to design your garden using traditional rows or by the Square Foot Garden method.  I will go into further detail about the Square Foot Garden method in a future post.  I use a lot of this in My Urban Farmscape.  The program can select from 5000 geographical locations which will allow your garden plan to be specific to your growing region.  This is important because different regions will grow and plant different plants.  GrowVeg will e-mail you updates for planting reminders based on our growing region twice a month.  What!  Once the gardening season is in full swing, I am so busy, I could use all the reminders I can get!  You can select from 130 vegetables, herbs and fruits.  They even provide information regarding crop rotations and warns you when you are about to place a crop in a location that might not be suitable based on last year’s plan.  This is important in order to prevent diseases and deter pests that may harbor in your garden from the previous year.  You can undo, copy and paste allowing you to create and re-create your gardens.  I’m sure that once you get started, you will love everything GrowVeg does.  When your garden is all designed, you can click on the plant list button to get your complete list of plants and quantities.  Awesome!  All you need to operate the program is Adobe Flash Player.  Try it free for 30 days and you will probably be able to plan your initial garden in that time.  But gardening doesn’t end in 30 days and neither does garden planning!  It will be worth the twenty five bucks to become a member.  GrowVeg has just launched their version for the iPad and expect their iPhone version be available toward the end of the year.  I draw and sketch my gardens initially,  then I finalize with a digital plan using all the tools and resources available to me to ensure a successful planting and growing season.  It’s almost time to start planting so finish up your planning with your favorite online garden planning tool.  Be sure to check out GrowVeg!

Online Garden Planning Tool

Where Does Your Garden Grow?

29 Jan

Whether you are a first time gardener or a master, a lot of planning is necessary to ensure a successful garden. So…First things first. Where is your garden going to be? A great goal would be that your whole yard becomes your Urban Farmscape, but that could be a huge task, so it’s best to start small. A side yard, your front yard, the space outside your kitchen door, or maybe  your front porch or back deck. Wherever it is there are a few things you need to do before you select plants. You will have to go outside for this so bundle up! I love to go out when the sun is shining brightly on the snow, which isn’t very often in Michigan but when it does, it’s amazing. Especially after a fresh snow when the lawns are covered with sparkling diamonds and bushes look like sugar frosted cupcakes. Nice! Okay… back to planning. Once you decide where your garden will be, do the following:
1. Measure the area and make rough sketches.
2. If you have a camera, take a lot of pictures.
3. Think about how you will be planting your plants, directly into the soil, containers, or maybe you would like to build a raised planter.
4. Sketch your garden space onto a piece of paper or graph paper. Be sure to include the location of your house, shed, fences, water spigots, and existing plants or trees. When you think you have all the information you need, you can draw a more detailed drawing (inside the house). Use a thicker point marker to outline buildings, and a thinner tipped one for everything else. Color if you like. Name buildings (house, shed etc.). Add proposed garden beds using pencil again, or a fine tip marker. If you are planning a container garden on your deck, then draw to scale your deck and where the containers will be placed. Be sure to include furniture or grills. Make notes of the actual growing space you have in square feet. For example, a 12 inch container would be 1 square foot. A garden that is 2’ x 8’ is 16 square feet. This is helpful for future reference when deciding what to plant, adding soil amendments or fertilizers. Don’t worry; I’ll talk about these soon.
5. Locate and draw a symbol for North in a lower corner. A capital “N” with an arrow pointing toward the north is typically how this is done.
6. In the opposite lower corner, write down the scale you are using. For example, if one square = 1 foot, then write that.
7. Give your garden a name and write that at the top of your page.
8. Now, observe the sun for a few days in your proposed garden space. For most fruits and vegetables, a minimum of 6-8 hours is needed but full sun is preferred. Herbs thrive in hot sunny places. Keep in mind the sun is lower in the sky during winter and that a southern exposure today may be shaded by neighboring buildings or trees, but as the sun moves higher into the sky, the area may become blasted with sunshine before too long.
These are the first steps in your design. What to plant where is soon to come. Stay tuned as I evaluate and share my thoughts on some computer related garden planning tools that are fun and will help you create your Farmscape!

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