In the most recent In the Weeds video I mentioned garden planning calendars and how they’re a great project to tackle with students. A detailed garden calendar can also be an extremely helpful and effective tool when it comes to overall garden planning, so whether or not you have the opportunity to create one with students, it’s an activity that I would highly recommend to help streamline and improve your garden systems.
Here in Vermont, February is generally the month when I develop my own garden calendar, and so I wanted to share the main framework that guides my thinking: harvest time. Do I want to be able to pick fully grown cabbages by early summer? Are there crops like lettuce and spinach I want access to all summer long? Do I want my students to be able to harvest fresh basil leaves when they return to school in the fall? By asking all these questions, I’m forced to think about my ideal harvest date or window.
Once I’ve decided when I’d like to harvest, I can work backwards to figure out a planting date. Most seed packets will have information on how long a particular variety takes to mature—for example, Yellow Sweet Spanish Utah Onions take approximately 100 days. That means if I want to harvest them with students right when they return to school the first week of September, then they need to be planted around the final week of May at the latest.
After figuring out all my plantings dates, I take anything that falls within a week or two window and pick one planting day to log on my calendar. Most of the time I start veggies by seed instead of purchasing starts, I also utilize produce all summer long, so I typically begin starting seeds by mid-March.
Garden planning calendars are one approach to strategic garden planning, but you can check out one of my blog posts from last spring for additional tips.