I spend my winter holidays thinking about a garden planning. New to the business, in a challenging climate, next to a family and a full-time job, I felt needing a serious plan to stay ahead of what nature (including human nature) has in mind. I plan to grow about 45 varieties of vegetables. With what to start? What indoors, what outdoors? When hardening off? When will this vegetable be ready to pick, and a new seedling should be ready to take it place? It is not rocket science, but it needs attention if you want to optimize space.
Several tools became handy. Especially the seed-starting date calculator and succession planting calculator of Johnnyseeds.are very helpful. The first calculates when you can start sowing so that the plants are ready on time to out, based on your personal frost dates. The latter calculates until when you can sow with the exception of getting mature science. In my region of Helsinki, I have a frost-free period from April 20 to October 10 (minimum of 10 hours of sun from March 5 until November 11). According to Johnny I can plant carrots until the 1st of August, leeks until the 9th of July, and the 1st of September for rucola. It is obviously no hard science, and a cold august can put an abrupt end to all succession planting. But I feel more confident having a sheet I can consult. It takes some time though to enter the varieties you want to grow, days to maturity, and starting dates
Another web tool I have tried out is the paid garden planner of GrowVeg. It is first a design tool: where do I put what plants? It generates also a planting schedule adapted to the frost dates you enter, the planting advise you would find at the back of your seed packet but then adapted to your region. It helps you to calculate the quantities that fit in the intended space. But what I really like about this tool is thatreminds you how to rotate crops, because you can design this year’s garden with a memory of last year’s crop. The only difficulty now is to plant according to plan, or change the plan in the garden planner according to the changes you made. I will report on my experiences with these web tools after this season.