How do you plan your growing season?

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fluffstermum

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How do you plan your growing season?
« on: December 31, 2011, 14:45 »
Right in front of me I have a tin full of seed packets, a list with all these seeds alongside their sowing and harvesting times, a few photos of the plot (we haven't measured it so the pics give a good idea of the size, in case we've forgotten!).

At some point we need to sort out a 'map of the plot' with what we'll grow where, so we can work out how to cram it all in (I think I went a little overboard on the number of varieties I wish to try  :lol:).  I also have a spare 2012 diary (Santa brought an extra one) which might be handy for recording sowing/harvesting times.

How do you organise yours?

Also, how do I know when to sow/plant each type of seed? as I know the conditions vary from place to place so I'm not sure how religiously I should be following the back of the seed packets. Also with the weirdly warm winter so far I'm guessing we may have a very cold spring, which I assume will mess things up and confuse my veggies.

I'd love to hear how you all keep things organised, and know what you will be doing when, so I can pinch a few ideas  :)

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Yorkie

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Re: How do you plan your growing season?
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2011, 14:57 »
Firstly, group your veggies into similar family groups: pea / beans, spuds / tomatoes, brassicas (sprouts, cabbages, broccoli etc), onion family, others like squash / courg / sweetcorn / salads / beetroot.

Then divide your plot into some areas.  No need for them to have raised edges or similar.

Allocate a different area to each of the family groups; the 'others' group can slot in anywhere as it doesn't have specific rotation issues.

I record what goes into my 3 beds on a piece of paper, updated each year.

Sowing times - as you're in Leics you'll probably be about middle of the growing season so don't start too early.  Don't sow outside if it's really cold or wet in the soil.  If you don't have a greenhouse, don't start tender stuff until early May because you won't be able to plant out until about early June.

If you look on the Diaries board, have a look at DD's thread for some sowing times as he's in the same neck of the country as you.

Also look on the threads on the Growing FAQs board, including the sowing and harvesting chart
http://chat.allotment-garden.org/index.php?board=36.0

You can start your own diary on the Diaries board, to keep a record of what you did and when.
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JayG

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Re: How do you plan your growing season?
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2011, 15:01 »
If you do an advanced "search" of this board of the forum using the word "plan" you will find many previous threads on how different people draw up their plans (everything from paper and pencil, via Word or Excel, to bespoke programs or utilities available online.)

Take your pick, and use the many articles in the main part of this website for guidance (in general, I think you will suffer fewer disappointments if you don't push your sowing times to the limits suggested by many seed packets, which tend to be rather optimistic at both ends of the scale, especially for beginners.)
Sow your seeds, plant your plants. What's the difference? A couple of weeks or more when answering possible queries!

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strangerachael

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Re: How do you plan your growing season?
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2011, 15:07 »
I organise my packets into sections - one for late winter/early spring/sowing indoors which includes tomatoes, chillies, peppers and celeriac/celery, this year I am trying onions from seed too. Next section is early/mid spring which is things like carrots, broad beans, spinach and lettuce, brassicas etc, then there's late spring which is all the tender stuff. Within each section I just choose my good planting days according to the weather forecast, conditions at the plot and my free time. No set dates, after a few years' experience you just know when is a good time to go for it
Rachael

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snowdrops

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Re: How do you plan your growing season?
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2011, 16:08 »
 I have 3 plastic storage tubs with dividers for each month & put the seed packets in the correct section for the 1st month it advises on the packet. If I don't get to sow them that month I move them to the next month & so on. Well that's in theory. i keep them in the garage where it's cool & take them up to the shed or lottie as appropriate to sow them. Every now & then I have to have a good sort out to tidy them back up. I am intending to make a list of them all to keep on eye on what I have/haven't got.
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shokkyy

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Re: How do you plan your growing season?
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2011, 16:16 »
Where I always fail utterly is in planning succession sowing to spread harvest periods, and in planning follow-on crops to make best use of beds. And now that I've got a polytunnel life has become even more complicated, cos I've got a main growing area, plus 4 separate raised beds with shallow soil plus 4 more raised beds in the tunnel, and I've got to work out what goes where, when, and for how long. Every time I try to work it out I just go completely braindead :)

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fluffstermum

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Re: How do you plan your growing season?
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2011, 16:29 »
Thanks all, I love how you point me in the right direction.

Shokkyy - that's exactly where I go wrong too. We tend to shove all the seeds in the ground at the same time, then discover we have a few sacks of carrots all ready to eat at once  :D

And I've just spent a while on a funky little diagram which shows where we'll plant each type of veg, in groups like Yorkie suggested (thank you!).... then I realised the squash section (a good 3rd of the plot) will be empty until they actually go in the ground, so there we could grow something that harvests early. Except I'm not sure exactly what  :unsure:

And to add to the confusion we also have 2 raised beds, a polytunnel, and a pack of patio growing containers to make use of   :lol:

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New shoot

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Re: How do you plan your growing season?
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2011, 16:55 »
I buy a cheap notebook preferably A5 size at least and make a rough plan of my growing areas - plot, raised beds at home and greenhouse.  I only map the main crop areas - spuds, beans ect and leave some areas aside for successional crops nonspecified.  

I also mark a set of pages by month.  You may need 2 or more pages for busy months like March and April.  I note down the seeds that could be sown that month, so for example beetroots get a mention from the March page to July.  

I try and keep the monthly pages grouped by crop type as well - roots, leafy veg ect.  and have a sown column, a planted out column and a started harvesting column.  If you have room a comments column is handy in case you want to record some major success or disappointment to help you next year.

As I get to each month I tick each seed as I sow it and put the dates in the columns as I go.  

Takes a bit of time to set up, but I find it a life saver when things get manic at work which coincides with main sowing season for me  ::)  :) and I can take the book to the plot to see what room I have to fill before I get busy with the seeds and compost  :D

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mumofstig

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Re: How do you plan your growing season?
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2011, 17:02 »
You could always set up your diary on here, and put the date next to each crop when you sow it.
Just a thought  :)
Lesley x
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BabbyAnn

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Re: How do you plan your growing season?
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2011, 17:19 »
then I realised the squash section (a good 3rd of the plot) will be empty until they actually go in the ground, so there we could grow something that harvests early. Except I'm not sure exactly what  :unsure:

Personally I leave the squash bed alone and add lots of manure/compost - squash do so much better with very fertile soil.  I also find that there are lots of other things to be doing so before I know it, it's mid-May and I'm weather watching to see if I should be planting out the plants I've got growing in pots or should I wait a little longer. 

If you don't like the idea of an empty bed, perhaps a short season green manure to dig in just before you plant out (or plan sowing an overwintering green manure in autumn for the following year's squash bed)?  The only things I can think of that may be ready are spinach, rapini or kailaan (a sort of broccoli that grows quickly but you can harvest the whole plant) or radish, but some do rely on early sowings to be ready in time.  Baby leaf vegetables like lettuce could be an option too.

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rowlandwells

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Re: How do you plan your growing season?
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2011, 18:29 »
 every year i always set off with the best intentions that sometimes fall short i keep a diary year by year i started the diary about five years ago

because my seed packets are not pictorial and have no information on the packets i write the setting dates down on a setting log listing the setting dates as it all starts off about the end of February for me  then tick off as seed set together with the date settings for both veg and flower settings in the greenhouse 90% of my veg seed setting is done in our greenhouse then transferred to the Lottie when ready

i also have a garden Lottie plan as i think its very important for crop rotation and log what ground has been manured and lime added as i have 2 Lottie's there's a plan for both plots

i usually keep one Lottie for spuds broad bean brassicas marrow courgette the other one for runner bean and root crops and crops that need more managing

because most of what i set are f1 seed they usually come in all at once that's not a problem because we freeze some of the veg when its young and tender as well as the table

the same goes for my flower plants date of order delivery potting on plants date and how the varieties perform that year

 

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Yorkie

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Re: How do you plan your growing season?
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2011, 22:04 »
Squash, along with beans, courgettes, pumpkins, tomatoes and other non-hardy plants, all get planted out in the plot at the same time - about the start of June for me.

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gobs

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Re: How do you plan your growing season?
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2012, 15:16 »
Hi, Fluff!

A lot of these summer crops are going to go in for me, where my winter crops are harvested from - like: broad beans, onions, roots - so next year, you will have more of a choice of such arrangements, too.

However, still can do some early sowings of broad beans, peas, carrots. The letter one needs cover anyway, so fleece will help along nicely some Feb-March sown Amsterdam forcing or early Nantes types to harvest as young bunching, finger carrots. And you can heel in any surplus, once the space is needed, that only takes a square foot.

Early peas, weather permitting, should be finished by June. Any surplus freezes well.

Several broad beans can be sown Feb-March, Aquadulce, Sutton, Witkiem is a very fast one.

Mind the mice with these letter two!

Or you could experiment with some fast leek like Zermatt for baby leeks, if you get some by then, again can be heeled in, no need to use at once.

I like to keep a separate tin for 'forever-sowing' seeds - lettuce, radish, etc. - and I always have it with me. I mean on the plot. :D
« Last Edit: January 01, 2012, 15:18 by gobs »
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fluffstermum

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Re: How do you plan your growing season?
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2012, 23:26 »
Thank you  :)

I have a spare A4 notebook so I'll make the the "Allotment Book" I think - list what I've sown and when to harvest etc. It'll be a good place to jot down everything 'allotmenty' actually.

I've started off my online diary on here too. Very brief at the moment but I'll add to it once the season kicks off.

At least I have a plan of some sort, which is a start. That doesn't mean I'll stick to it though  :tongue2:



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