I’ve been spending the last few weeks planning for my small-scale farm experiment and I’m learning a lot! I’ve been gardening for years and the extent of my planning is to buy seeds that make me excited and plant them where there’s room. This approach doesn’t really work for farming! I bought all sorts of seeds that I was excited about and now I’m finding that I don’t have enough of some varieties, or that some seeds don’t really fit my vision. Worst of all, I should have started stratifying some seeds last week.
My biggest lesson so far: plan first, buy later
To help get organized, I’ve been working on an epic Excel set. I’ve sorted similar and compatible plants into segments. My approach is based on everything I’ve been learning from my friend, and the book The Market Gardener. I’m not quite on their level but I’m making lots of process! My spreadsheet has columns for: days to maturity, crop and variety, germination time, when to start the transplant, when to start planting, the harvest window, the number of plants I want to grow, how many seeds I have, the spacing of the rows, and the bed number. For herbs, I also have germination notes and when to start germination, if they require stratification or are light dependent.
If you’re looking to make a chart, the information you consider including will depend on whatever helps you plan! The spacing is my best guess based on the spacing The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer recommends for smaller flowery herbs. Next year I won’t have to have a column for seeds because I’ll be planning *before* I buy seeds 😉 These charts from Fedco Seeds are also really helpful for germination information.
The hardest part for me was trying to figure out how many seeds I need per bed. Once my brother pointed out that I should be converting all my units so that they’re the same, it was smooth sailing. An example (partially in case I forget for next year!):
Bed size: 2.5′ (3o”) by 25′ (300″)
bed length divided by spacing = plants per row (this is useful if you just want to do 1 row of a particular plant rather than an entire bed)
plants per row x rows = plants per bed
300 divided by 8 = 37.5 x 3 = 112.5 seeds per bed
I still have so much to learn but it’s such a fun process! Do you have any tips? Or do you spot any errors? 😉 I will revise as necessary and I’m sure my process next year will be different!1