Planning For A Year-Round Harvest: When You Need The Big Picture

The detailed month-by-month lists are great and all, but sometimes you need the overview, the synopsis, the big picture. This is particularly true at the beginning of the growing season, like now, when all the little details are popping up: what plants do I grow? How many? How long till I can eat them? Where do I plant them? Next to what? Following on what? Why is this all so confusing!?!?

Without a little organization, it’s hard to turn the puzzle pieces of a high-yield, year-round garden into a cohesive vision. Even with organization, you still need perpetual flexibility and unwavering hope as you work with the uncontrollable’s of nature.

Download this guide free on the Downloadables page

 

That’s where a Year Round Planting Guide comes into place. It’s your at-a-glance plan for the year. There’s enough detail for conflicts to be seen (fall brussel sprouts can’t go in after tomatoes! They’ll never mature in time!) but not so much that you’re lost in the weeds.

I put together my Year Round Planting Guide so I could have all the things I repeatedly look up at my fingertips and in one place. I’m always asking myself questions like: “Now, is Derby Day a spring cabbage or a fall cabbage, again?” or “About how many days do those parsnips take to size up again?” or, “Can I get beets to size up if I sow them in late September?” It’s nice to have the answers all in one place.

Take a look and feel free to modify this database to suit your own gardening climate and needs. This is garden geek stuff, but if you are just beginning, don’t be intimidated. Just go through and delete all the rows that include plants you won’t grow. Not growing kraut cabbage? Delete! Dry beans not on the plan? Delete! Plug in dates that are about right for your region and pretty soon you’ll have a Year-Round Growing Guide framework that works for you year after year.

Download the guide free on the Downloadables page, or click on the links below:

Download in: Excel | Numbers (Mac OS)

My Year Round Planting Guide isn’t the only one out there – if you geek out on this kind of stuff, check out the Fall Planting Schedule put out by Annette at Sustainable Eats (and author of The Urban Farm Handbook) and MethylGrace’s Seed Starting Schedule, which comes complete with a growing season calculator. You’ll notice we all build our planting schedule tools a little bit differently. That’s good! You can look at how we all do it and find the way that makes the most sense for you.

How do you organize your year-round growing?

Comments

  1. I used to do the year round planting guide all based on the moon. After a couple of years I realized that things ALWAYS went wrong and it was impossible to follow. Yours looks much more simple with just having months rather than specific days.

    • Yeah….uh….I might get my hippie card pulled for this, but I put no stock at all in planting by the moon. None. With “month by month” you just adjust a bit earlier or later depending on the particularities of the year.

      • Getting yoour “Hippie Card” Pulled, eh? I love your metaphors, Erica. Great post, and by the way I am tickled to hear someone else sya what I have thought about planting the moon cycles. No you can take the heat! ;-)

      • Bonnie S says:

        I like using the moon phase calendars because it gives me deadlines, keeps me on a schedule. I won’t swear it’s better than any other schedule, but I do seem to have had better luck and fuller beds since I started doing it.

  2. Maybe it’s too early or I haven’t had enough coffee yet, but what does “Sow.Cl” mean to you?

  3. Thank you for helping us chart freaks not reinvent the wheel, I really need this plan. Thanks!

  4. Max Morgan says:

    Thanks for the great chart Erica. Do you also happen to have something in Excel for companion vegetable planting? I’ve looked online in the past but couldn’t find anything that’s in a printable format.

    • My pleasure, thanks Max. I don’t have anything about beneficials or companions just kicking around on the computer but I’ll work on it. Part of the problem with companion planting info is that there is a lot of it based on…well…hunches. The only thing I’ve ever seen convincing evidence for is the antagonistic relationship between alliums and legumes. And there’s a lot of charts out there describing the various beneficial relationships, but many are inconsistent and some are *internally* inconsistent. Which is not to say that companion planting doesn’t have a lot of benefits, but it’s hard to nail down what exactly those are with so little definitive scientific-type study being done. Sounds like a good challenge, though – I’ll put it on my list. In the meantime, I just grow calendula and nasturtium everywhere I can, shove lavender in the garden anywhere that it’ll fit and let brassicas go to flower in spring if possible.

  5. Just stumbled onto your blog and wanted to let you know that I have enjoyed what I have read so far! :) I have been container gardening for a few years, but will be making the plunge into raised bed gardening this spring… wish me luck! I’m so thankful for being able to glean some knowledge from more experienced gardeners via the internet.
    Thanks for being informative and entertaining!

  6. What does “start in TP” mean? Thanks

    • Start In = start seeds indoors or in a greenhouse in pots. TP = Set out hardened-off transplants. Both in one cell means that time of year is good for both starting seeds indoors AND setting out transplants, depending on where you are in your gardening.

  7. I just downloaded and donated for this:) It’s awesome! I do have a question though. I figured out
    most of the abbreviations from the above comments, but do wonder what “cole” means.

    Thank you!

  8. Dumb question to ask in a NW blog, but could you pls tell me if this same material is available for the SE? Or did YOU create this yourself, specifically for the NW? Thanks!! Love your blog!

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  1. [...] I’m also trying to journal/map my progress (or lack thereof). It occurs to me (via Erica at NW Edible Life) that a more formal, quick view spreadsheet might be in order. Something where I don’t have [...]

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