Many gardeners, myself included, spend hours dreaming of how perfect the coming summer's garden will be. Free of weeds and pests, this imagined garden boasts a rainbow of productive vegetables and fruits with bountiful harvests filling basket after basket. When the reality of seed-starting, transplanting, weeding, watering and the associated garden labor sets in, my real garden rarely lives up to my winter daydreams' expectations.
For many seasons, my biggest problems began with inaccurate planning. I kept planting my tomatoes too close together, planting over my slow-starting parsnip and carrot seeds, forgettting to water hidden seeds in recently planted beds — the list goes on. Last year, I tried a new tool. With the Grow Planner app on my iPad, I didn't have to calculate how many tomato plants to start for my garden's available space — the app figured all my plant spacing for me. I had the planted beds mapped and drawn on my tablet, so I could take my garden plan into my garden and keep from replanting already filled beds or missing a key watering. The Grow Planner also kept track of when I needed to start my seeds, when I needed to plant seeds and seedlings into the garden, and even when I should expect to gather my first harvests. I've even started practicing proper crop rotation because the app tracks which family of crops I've planted in each bed and warns me when I'm not switching from one crop family to another. Whoa, right?
Granted, the app does take some time to get used to, and a few of my favorite crop varieties weren't in the plant database. The biggest issue? Plain human error. I started the season keeping careful notes and tracking all of my garden's progress, but as my gardening work picked up, tracking in the Grow Planner dropped off of my radar. I've started planning in earnest again, dreaming of yet another perfect garden, and a new dedication to notating my garden's growth in my handy gardening app. This year, I have even more inspiration to keep my garden and my planning up to snuff: You can now publish your garden plans online to share with friends. (You can browse through all the published plans, too, for even more ideas and tips from gardeners growing the same crops or dealing with similar growing conditions.)
Learn more about the features of the Grow Planner to help you get started. If you're interested in trying a garden planning tool but don't have an iPad, you can still take advantage of the same software provided in the Grow Planner right on your computer with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Vegetable Garden Planner. Happy gardening!