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Fall plans for the garden are complete. We're ready to start seeds.

Planning that Dreamy Spring Garden

Well, the rain dance we did last week definitely worked.  We’re going on 7 straight days of rain.  This kind of weather makes for good daydreaming about the sunny spring sure to follow.  What better time than to curl up in bed with all those seed catalogs and make good on some garden design fantasies and promises?  That’s what I do, anyway. Here’s how to do it:

1) Get out your most trusted gardening books: (mine are listed below)

Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

Geoff Hamilton’s Organic Gardening

Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte

Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening

Rodale’s Garden Answers: Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs by Fern Marshall Bradley

2) Grab your garden journal (perhaps a Gardenerd Journal), a ruler, a pencil and a big fat eraser

3) Pull out your seed collection (mine is in the refrigerator, which is stored in an airtight container with little packets of silica desiccant to keep everything fresh.)

4) Dump it all on the bed and climb in.

It’s sheer heaven.  The seeds come out from hiding and get organized in groups: Brassicas; root vegetables; lettuces and salad greens; flowers; and “stuff I’d like to grow this year.”  The journal becomes the drawing board for all ideas.  I draw out my available gardening space (which consists of 4×4 square foot beds) and I start assigning where crops will go.  I consult the previous years’ layouts to make sure I’m not planting things in the same place (brassicas can harbor disease if planting in the same place year after year, while other things, like tomatoes, like to be planted in the same place from year to year).

Giving a little bit of old folklore credence to companion planting (even though I recently read a history of how companion planting came about – and as it turns out, it’s pretty much malarkey, but still pretty fun to experiment with) I try to put carrots and basil near the tomatoes and keep the peas away from the onions.

In the end, I have a roadmap for the coming months of the garden.  I use that same drawing to make notes on how well the plants grew that season.  It makes what could be an overwhelming process quite fun and exhilarating.

How do you plan your garden each season?  Share it with us here.

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