I read about Mother Earth News’ Vegetable Garden Planner this morning over at Eat Drink Better and decided to check it out. I’ve spent about a half hour playing with it so far, and I can tell it’s going to be very helpful.
The interactive planner, which is free for the first 30 days and then $29 a year after that, uses your garden’s measurements along with your location’s frost dates to help you map out your garden. Once you’ve designed your bed with the vegetables, herbs and fruits that you want, the planner provides you with the following very useful information.
- Get a personalized planting chart. Once your plan is complete, the software compiles a chart showing how many of each plant you need to buy or raise from seed, the correct spacing and recommended planting dates for your area. You can print both the plan and plant list as a handy reference to take into your garden.
- Plan succession sowings. If you plan to grow fall carrots after spring peas, or plant fall garlic in the same space used for summer snap beans, you can incorporate end dates for certain plantings into your plan. The plan will then show available space for a second crop.
- Plan crop rotations. Plants are coded according to the botanical family to which they belong, and the garden planner keeps track of what you have grown where. When you plan next year’s garden based on this year’s plan, the planner will warn you if you try to follow tomatoes with potatoes, squash with pumpkins, or otherwise violate standard rotation practices.
- Plan cover crop plantings. The planner includes several common cover crop varieties for improving soil.
You’ll even receive emails that remind you when to sow and to plant for each crop you’ve chosen. (Obviously, you’ll need to pay for a year’s subscription to continue to receive the emails after the 30-day free trial period.)
Mother Earth News has created this informational video to demonstrate all of the vegetable planner’s features.
Last year, my garden went unplanted because of a far-too-packed spring schedule, but I vowed not to let that happen again. It feels good to be planning this year’s garden in January. I’ll be spending more time with the Vegetable Garden Planner from Mother Earth News between now and April, and when planting time comes, I’ll be ready.