The problem we all have with planning our vegetable gardens is that we need to represent both space and time in our charts and/or drawings. This is a tricky task and if you don't have a clear method, things can get confusing and overwhelming fast.
I recognized this problem early on when planning for our small farm. I had spreadsheets to my left that were great at helping me with the numbers and garden sketches to my right that were helpful for planning the layout of the garden spaces, but each of these methods was missing something. When using the spreadsheets I lost track of the physical use of space in the garden, and when using the drawings I lost track of the planting schedule and quantities in my plan. To solve the problem I developed magnetic planning boards that allow me to keep track of the number of beds I am growing of each crop and the time during which each crop will occupy the bed. It has improved my planning by leaps and bounds and I have been using it now for several years. You can read more about this method in this earlier post.
The one problem with my magnetic board planning method is that it is hard to share with you all. When I do garden planning consultations, people love it but I am not about to start manufacturing these planning boards at home or outsource that task to a factory in China. For that reason, I have been wondering for a while if I could create a digital version of this planning method that would be more suited to sharing. This spring I spent some time on this challenge and came up with a solution. Check it out in use in the video below as I plan our 2019 homestead garden.
The solution uses the free application of Canva to layout and manipulate standard beds and crop labels that are scaled to represent time. That is the one mental leap you need to make to use this method. To help you understand this central concept, I have made several instructional videos that you can find on the in our online Classroom. Just enter "garden planner tutorials" in the Classroom search bar once you login and the first post that pops up will be the one you want.
Once you understand how to use this planning method, your vegetable game will reach a whole new level. You'll start to recognize more opportunities in your garden where and when you can plant additional crops and you'll find it so much easier to understand what your garden will look like at different points in the season. Intensive techniques like interplanting, relay planting, and succession planting are now so easy for us to represent visually with this method that our planning process is now just a fun puzzle that I look forward to tinkering with every year. Head to the Classroom and check out the tutorials.