Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Planning ahead

I was watching my good lady burning her old diary, something she has done every New Year’s Day since we’ve known each other, when I had a thought.
It’s the one thing you really should add to your tools list for a garden. If you want to learn from your mistakes and avoid repeating them, you should really invest in a good, large paged diary.
I know there are any number of fancy, floral print ones with nice pictures of gardens and favourite plants throughout them but, frankly, they won’t give you any help. As long as there is enough space to put down what you did, when you did it and what the results were, that’s all you really need.
A diary or even just a notepad will suffice as basic essentials but I would add a large pad of graph paper and a wall planner as extra if you can run to them.
The wall planner makes it easier to see what’s going on when your hands are caked in mud and I would use the graph paper to lay out a plan of the plot you are working on. All permanent features, beds, shed, water butt etc., should be marked in black marker. That way, if you want to you can trace those parts and add temporary things, such as trial beds and new crops.
By numbering the beds you can practice crop rotation for fruit and vegetable growers or plan bedding layouts for flower beds.
Make a list of what you want to grow each year, around now is usually when we get most imaginative , and you can start to plan how you are going to fit it all in!
Remember to try something new, make room for the old reliable items ,potatoes cabbages and more and the long term beds, such as asparagus and rhubarb and then let your imagination go wild!
On your plan, mark North and mark areas of shade or hard sun and tie it all in with the diary, noting what was planted when.
For the start of the year, nothing much will change but next season, when you come to plant your second crops, you will be better prepared. After the best of the year has passed, it will be good to sit down and look back and see what worked and what went wrong.
It’s another reason to have a good, comfy chair in the shed!

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