Monday, January 31, 2011

Gardening? But it's so coooold out....

The 'lovely' view of my sorry greenhouse greeted me as we came in the driveway from church Sunday.  I keep thinking Hubby and the princes have to get onto fixing it, or my garden will be lagging behind yet again.  Then I realized I was wrong in thinking I needed to wait for them, since sowing seeds come first, and that's my job.  It will be weeks before they're ready to go outside in the unheated greenhouse, even if it is in top-notch condition.                                                                                                                                                    
As you can see, I have some clean up to do in the garden boxes, too, so they are not the only ones who need to brave the wet and cold to do some outside work. This week's forecast promises some sun, so maybe I can talk some of my schoolkids out of their chairs to do some garden prep with me. Thankfully, for a quiet Sunday afternoon, I had some research to do inside, so could still enjoy the warmth and continued laziness.                                                                                                                                                                 
I know that one of my shortcomings is a good grasp on garden scheduling.  I want to plant all at once and then harvest.  I am not good at varied start or succession planting, both of which would better suit the plants to the climate changes, and increase our overall yield.  I've looked at garden planners and garden journals at bookstores in previous years, but they're one of 2 things: a garden design book, or they're calendars, but blank...for the gardener to fill in.  As a long-time novice, I need more "Do this, and do it this day" help, and I need it specific to my area.                                                                                                                                                                          
Mother Earth News 
When we were without power for days in November, Hubby brought me home a copy of Mother Earth News.  I had never read that magazine before, and thoroughly enjoyed the articles focused on home, health, farming (chickens!), organic gardening, and in that issue, baking bread.                                                                                             
I couldn't help but be intrigued by the ad for their Vegetable Garden Planner. Not only will it help design the layout, which many such tools do, but also advise me about frost dates for my area, and succession planting for my particular plant choices and bed design.  It will only advise me about vegetables that suit the time-frame and weather I have.  I will receive emails to remind me of planting tasks, which I think will be a great help.  If I decide to make the $25 per year investment after a 30-day free trial, the planner will keep track of my planting from year to year, helping with crop rotation issues.   (I really like that they don't ask for payment information when you sign up for the free trial, but only if you make the decision to continue.)                                                                                                                                                
There is no stand-alone software to download.  It's all done on-line via Adobe Flash Player, so should work through any browser on any type of computer, including my detested PC laptop and our Mac.                                                                                                                                                            
It doesn't seem to allow for the use of my greenhouse, so it won't be doing everything for me...I will just have to try it out and let you know what I think.


  1. Wow! Thanks for sharing about this. We've killed off plants from planting them too early before, and also messed up with planting too late. This is something I'll have to tell DH about. (He's the gardener, I'm the plant killer.)

  2. Ha! I'm the gardener AND the plant killer! Not a great combo for trying to grow food.
    I do square foot gardening and they have a feature for setting up the garden plans that way, which was particularly great. I was also able to make a map of last year's garden so when I chose a plant to place on the plan, it showed me where NOT to plant it for this year. I haven't gotten into how it helps with succession planting. Of course for that I'd probably need to watch the tutorials, but I'm kind of a "dive in and only look at the instructions if I have to" sort of person.

  3. Haha - me too! When DH bought me Chief Architect, I just started using it instead of watching the tutorials.

    I showed DH your post. Hopefully we'll have more than just tomatoes and herbs this year.

    I sent you an e-mail today about something else, let me know if it made it past any spam filters.

  4. Yes, got that email...Thanks! It's been a busy day, so I haven't gotten a chance to get all the way through it and respond.

  5. I do the same thing... "fly by feel". I am very intuitive (or maybe a more honest way to think of it is "lazy"). If I can figure out the basic use of something without reading the manual, that's my preference. I do miss out on many higher-level features that may be useful because of that tendency, especially when it comes to photography.

    One other resource that came to mind, if you are still needing specific fine-tuning (maybe you've already gone this route), is to use your state's extension agency. There are likely to be agents in your county, even your town, who know the soil and the timing of various plants very well.

  6. I even printed off a whole bunch of info from the Co. Extension office last year. Now if I could remember where I put it!!


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