Stay Organized While Gardening
Benjamin Kilbride, Editorial Assistant at The Old Farmer’s Almanac
Gardening is notoriously messy and hard to keep ordered—nature is sometimes a little too wild for us to control. But with a little practice and planning, you can stay organized and level-headed. Start planning now before the growing season begins!
Make a Plan
Planning a new garden can be a daunting task, but don’t get ahead of yourself. Start small and know that it’s OK if things don’t follow the plan exactly. Seldom will things be perfect when a garden is involved, but it can at least be manageable. Grab a new journal and write down the plants you will grow; the time for sowing, if planting directly into the soil outdoors; starting time, if you are setting seeds indoors; and note the number of days to maturity which is when you harvest them. This information is helpful during the current growing season as well as in the future.
Keep Seeds Organized
Create a simple seed filing system to keep seeds organized, dated, and easy to access. Knowing how old a pack of seeds are can help you figure out how well they should be germinating. To test if your seeds are viable, wet a paper towel with warm water and squeeze out the excess. Slip the moist paper towel in a resealable plastic bag, place five to ten seeds on the towel, and then seal the bag. Place the bag in a warm place and check to see how many seeds germinate over the next week or so. If fewer than half start to grow, it’s a good idea to get rid of the rest of those seeds.
Use Plant Tags
When planting your crops, have simple plant tags ready to go. “Popsicle”-type sticks work well. Mark them legibly in permanent marker. You will place these at the beginning and end of each row. Once weeds start coming up, plant tags are essential for knowing where your plants should be coming up.
In your gardening journal, keep a section for notes about when plants first sprout, how much water you use, and how successful the crop is through the season. Note if any pests show up and how you deal with them. This will be helpful in the future. (We all think we’ll remember, but most of that knowledge will become hazy.)
To keep on top of watering, weeding, and harvesting, create weekly checklists for each crop in the garden. Regularly doing these simple tasks will help to make your plants healthy and your harvest bountiful.
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