“These empty pages are your future, soon to become your past. It will read the most personal tale you shall ever find in a book.”
Instead of neat, easily accessible rows or grids, my urban food garden is much more higgledy-piggeldy, with pockets of produce circling the yard around my home. There are quite significant variations in the amount of shade, protection and even soil quality.
I used to potter about, without much of a plan, planting here, there and everywhere.
Then, I decided to up my garden game. I wanted to become more productive and unify all the bitty-little-bits into a whole. Actually plan ahead and be organised.
First, I needed a master mud map of the garden.
Frankly, even a small garden can be hard to keep a track of. For example, I planted out six fruit trees two years ago, a combination of apples and pears. I didn’t bother mapping the varieties down anywhere at all because, I was sure I would remember! So when the little plant tags inevitably blew away, I was left with no clue as to which variety was what. Which is a problem, because two of the six trees did not survive the summer. Apples and pears require compatible pollinators. Alas, without any idea as to which ones to replace, I have effectively damned the remaining four trees, rendering them potentially mateless, and fruitless. (I’m still a bit cross with myself about that.)
I would introduce you to this tree in the picture above, but I’ve forgotten it’s name. Faux pas.
So, with my lesson learned I got out the grid paper and mapped every garden nook and cranny. Old school style. As Husband pointed out, it is not to scale or particularly pretty, but
I am not Michelangelo it really doesn’t need to be.
My resulting map is 8 pages of A4 grid paper, with no fewer than 39 garden beds (grow-zones). It lives in my planting planner binder, where each bed has a number for reference and I can keep track from season to season, what is planted where, what was fertilised when, the crop rotations and even the fallow patches.
It is even useful to schedule when to stagger sowings. So I can ensure that different varieties are harvested at different times so the seeds are less likely to cross and hybridise. I have even noted the positions and the variety details of all the perennials and the fruit trees!
Yes, I know there are some great apps that I could use to the same end. But when I’m working out in the field, I don’t like to have my iPad out there with me. The sun glares off the screen and there is too much opportunity for it to get dropped/wet/filthy. So pencil and paper it is.
Next job is to stocktake my seed collection. That too is suffering from a lack of organisation. I heard that there was a rush on trendy kale seeds causing shortages so I bought a packet every time I saw some and now, four packets later, it’s probably time I stopped.
And when I was about to fall asleep last night, I had a revelation. I should start recording info against all my plant varieties, the yields and the weather to create a kind of garden almanac or journal, specific to my own garden. Build on the strengths, and learn from the mistakes.
Upon waking, it still seemed like a good idea. Yet a quick check online for a journal-almanac-stocktake-evergreen diary templates was a little disappointing. It seems most existing planners are month specific. Not season specific. And almost overwhelmingly Northern-Hemisphere oriented. Not suitable for me. But, it has given me an idea… watch this space.
In the meantime, how about you? How do you keep track of your urban plantings? Please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you.