Some day maybe someone will come up with a vegetable garden software package that works the way I want a plan to work. I want my plan to allow me to keep track of vegetables and herbs by variety. I don't need a visual layout; I want a schedule of activities week to week so each week so I know what I have planned to do for each vegetable; e.g. start seeds indoors, plant seeds outdoors, plant seedling outdoors, etc. Finally I don't need to have a picture showing where in a particular bed I place my cabbages but I do want to know for each of my garden beds and large containers which vegetables or herbs I intend to place in each unit.
So until that software appears here is what I have in my planning file using Microsoft Word's table function.
I have three columns in the table and unlimited rows as I add plants. The column headings are - Plant Name; Activity; and Location of Plant in the garden. The Microsoft Word program allows me to sort the table using any one of the columns as the key. With the first column as the key I can get a list of all the plants. With the second column as the key I can get a list of activities week by week. With the third column as the key I can get a list of all my beds and containers showing me which plants I intend to place in each bed or container.
My three column table gives me the following information:
I insert the name of the vegetable or herb in question. When I sort the table for the first column I will have a list of all the vegetables and herbs I plan to grow this year with the varieties (which is recorded in column 2) of each vegetable or herb, all in alphabetical order. Example "Tomato"
This column is for a week to week plan of activities from buying seeds; to starting seeds; to planting seedlings; to first week of harvest. So for the vegetable Tomato listed in column 1 I insert the activity for that plant in this format with the week number, the date that week starts, the variety, and then the task:
17. (4-25)– "Sweet Treats", Start Seeds Under Lights
When I sort the table using column 2 as the key I get a week by week schedule of my garden activities for the entire year. Every week I know exactly which tasks I've schedule to be accomplished. I assume we vegetable gardeners can get stuff done if we always have a whole week in which to do the tasks.
For Tomato in column 1 and week 17's activity for Sweet Treats tomato in column 2 I then identify where I plan to place that plant in terms of a bed number or a container number. Each bed and each container in my garden has an identifying number; e.g. Bed #3. So when I sort the table with column 3 as the key, I get a list of all the plants I intend to place in each specific bed and in each container in my garden.
I do not need a picture of where in each bed the vegetable will be placed; I can do that as I plant stuff.
Back to "Sweet Treats" tomatoes. I will also add an entry in maybe week 23 to plant Sweet Treats tomato outside in Bed #2. Then I will try to predict when Sweet Treats starts to be harvested; maybe week # 43. I am effectively creating a diary out of my plan.
I can print any portion of this table if I prefer to work off paper.
For Next Year's Garden Plan
Next year in 2012 I will simply pull up my final plan for 2011 and rename it for 2012 and then make changes as I decide to use different varieties or change the timing of various tasks. In the end I have about 75% of 2012 garden plan already finished. Every year the garden plan gets more refined in terms of the timing of activities.