Discovering the ways in which new technology can enhance our experience of our planet — right down to our own gardens — is surprising and downright delightful. On that front, we’re excited about a new service that can help you grow your best garden ever: the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Vegetable Garden Planner. The Planner has an amazing range of helpful, state-of-the-art tools that make gardening easier and potentially more productive.
Thanks to modern technology and a smart design by an avid gardener from northern England — who also happens to be a software ace — the Garden Planner is useful and fun. We think it’s the best gardening software out there for organic gardeners seeking food independence.
The Planner provides your average spring and fall frost dates by matching your ZIP code to data from the nearest of almost 5,000 weather stations in the United States and Canada. You add the crops you want to grow to your plan, and, for each crop, the Planner will tell you when to sow seeds (indoors or out) or set out transplants. The service can e-mail you reminders every two weeks listing which crops it’s time to plant.
Experimenting with bed designs and plant placement is a snap. If your garden beds are already in place, simply set up your garden’s template in the Planner and start plugging in plants (or use it to design new beds). The Planner includes details for 70 vegetables and fruits, 28 herbs, and (sometime in 2011) we’ll add data on several cover crops and flowering plants that attract beneficial insects. The vegetables, fruits, and herbs have already been coded with space requirements, so you can quickly see how many will fit in a given bed or row.
Another cool feature is the personalized planting chart and schedule the Planner generates based on your garden. After your plan is complete, you can print both the design and planting chart as a handy reference to take into your garden.
You can also use the tool to plan succession sowings and crop rotations. To help with crop rotations, plants are color-coded according to their botanical family, and the Garden Planner keeps track of what you have grown where. When you plan next year’s garden, the Planner will automatically look at the previous year’s plan and warn you if you try to follow tomatoes with potatoes, squash with pumpkins, or otherwise deviate from standard rotation practices.
You can even make notes about yields and what happened with different varieties during the season. The Planner stores the notes so you can refer to them during the next planting season.
We think even gardeners who don’t usually use online tools are going to love how this unique software contributes to their garden planning and record keeping. So visit the Vegetable Garden Planner page to learn more and see it in action. You can view instructional videos and sign up for a free, 30-day trial — no credit card or personal information beyond a valid e-mail address is required. If you like it, annual subscriptions are just $25.