Various garden bloggers are posting beautiful images of their high-tech garden plans made with sophisticated software. Ribbit and I seem to fall on the other end of the spectrum. To be honest, I stink at record-keeping (hence the blog) and I also stink at planting things where I say I will. It's as though the heady scent of topsoil goes straight to my head and whoosh -- I'm high as a kite, sticking transplants and seeds into garden beds willy-nilly, trusting in whatever earth deities run the vegetable world to make it all work out okay. They don't always watch, so I have "Tom Thumb" lettuce marching right through my napkin-glued carrots, but it usually works out okay.
The thing is, though, I love plans. I love planning, I love imagining me remembering to succession-plant, I think crop rotation is a fine, fine thing, and I like paper. How does that work out? Well, on the days when I don't have a whole class and a half's worth of papers to grade (what's your thesis statement for "The Overcoat"?), and I don't feel like doing battle with the Bad, Bad Weeds, I go downstairs and get my secret stash of optimism:
Doesn't look like much, huh? Well, lookie here:
That's, roughly speaking, my yard. Sorry it's difficult to see. All the beds are laid out and the major fruit trees depicted. They're just outlines. To fill them in, I go to the tracing paper and drafting tape:
This is the current planting. In general, I try to put dates down but I'm not completely on top of that. The little stakes in the garden have plant dates, transplant dates, and pull dates (ideally) written on them. Sharpie fades; pencil doesn't. Go figure.
Then I make another tracing paper copy for the next season. This is for the spring.
Laid over the current planting, I can see what is in the beds to be followed. Heavy feeders follow light, and vice versa. Tomatoes and cole crops seem to be the key players -- I want to be sure they don't get planted right where they were.
Theoretically, this will work. At our house, computers sometimes die or fail, but if I don't forget where the tube is, this sort of system should last and last. I like peeling the layers off, traveling in time as I see the progression of crops. If planting follows the plan, everything should work out just fine. It does, for me at least, lead to thinking of single-crop beds. We'll see. My desires for different vegetables seems to be waning, while I want more of single things (there is, for example, no such thing as "too much" butternut squash).
Plus, there's the magic of an eraser. The way my eldest is eating pickles lately, I may remove a potato bed and put in more pickling cucumbers. Easier done on paper than outside!
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