Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Monday, 21 November 2011

A Simple Garden Checklist

I've always considered VP Gardens as my first true garden even though we've lived in several places previously. It's the first time I've felt truly inspired by a space and wanting to do the best for it.

I wasn't that knowledgeable about gardening when we moved here and having a completely blank canvas I was worried I wouldn't manage to design the planting to have something of interest in every month.

So I came up with the pictured simple garden checklist (click to enlarge it if you want to see the detail) and put my provisional plant list down the side and the months of the year across the top. What you see is just one of several pages and this one covers the shrub side of things.

The blue crosses show the flowering season and the red writing any leaf colour or berry season. It was then an easy task to look down each month and identify the gaps. I'd also marked each plant with its height (in silver by its name, plus whether it's deciduous or evergreen in green), so I could choose additional plants with the right height and season of interest and ensure things weren't too evergreen heavy.

Once I was happy with my list, I used purple crosses to show all the months where I'd need to prune or tidy particular plants. I also used the notes area on the right to write up additional care requirements and anything else of note such as particular pests to watch out for. Thus my plant checklist also doubles up as a maintenance guide, where I can see at a glance the main jobs I need to do each month.

This was devised in 2000. Nowadays I'd set it all up on a spreadsheet so it can easily be maintained to reflect plant deaths and new additions. I'm going to set up something similar for my allotment over the winter as part of my revised plot plan. Many companies give away vegetable planners, but they never quite reflect what I grow, especially as I have so many different kinds of fruit. It's going to be great to have a plan which not only shows seed sowing, planting out and harvest times, but also reflects the key tasks such as apple training and applying grease bands. I can also adjust the plan to show what tends to happen on my plot and using the resources I have to hand.

Do you have a similar plan for your garden? Or perhaps you've designed something else to help with your gardening activities. Do tell me in the Comments below.

13 comments:

  1. That's simple, clever, useful and neat. Instantly understandable too. I have a diagram of my veggie garden for rotation purposes but I'd never thought of something like that for the rest of the garden. Impressive.

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  2. Did you use Filetab too? Soon as I saw the diagram when the page opened you swept me back to the early 1980s at the beginning of my career in programming!

    Decision tables are a very useful tool and I like the way you have applied it to the garden.

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  3. Great idea VP. I love the way of looking at it to see what is in flower or of interest throughout the year. I'm always trying to plant for all seasons, and this is a great way of helping that along. I suspect a few of us will be copying you.

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  4. You have no idea how impressed I am. You should patent it!

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  5. Great tool, VP. I just might swipe it!

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  6. PM - I'm glad you like it. Hope you find it useful :)

    John - thanks.

    Zoe - I did! I loved Decision Tables - I was one of the few analysts I know who used them extensively.

    GL - you're welcome to. Thanks for mentioning it on Twitter too :)

    Mark - I'm sure lots of people have come up with something similar!

    Helen - swipe away :)

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  7. I've also had an email form Dobby because there was an error message when she tried to leave her comment:

    Dobby Far too organized for me! My style is see a plant I like, find out if it will grow in my garden, make a note, go to the garden centre, not be able to find the note, buy something totally different. Voila, no rules!!!


    Dobby - I'm sure there's plenty of others like you too. In fact I'm not averse to that approach myself ;)

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  8. Hi VP,

    I have a spreadsheet listing the sowing schedule for all my seeds. I have only a small terrace, everything in pots. I still don't know what grows well under my conditions, so I'm trying all sorts of stuff. I have about 140 different types of seed, and keeping track of what to plant when is all but impossible. So I put the planting months into the spreadsheet, then generate a list, month by month, of what to plant.

    It amuses my wife no end to see me doing that!

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  9. Looks most impressive VP. I should try to aspire to to something similar as the old grey matter is not as efficient as it used to be. I have decided though that I'm definitely going to get to grips with planning my allotment plot this winter so may well return for inspiration.

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  10. I love your check list! I may give this a try for my vegetable gardens. Thanks!

    ~Lynn

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  11. Well VP, you may have expected more people to garden my way, but no one is admitting it!

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  12. Tony - it sounds very sensible to me ;)

    Anna - I'm hoping it might help me get to grips with successional sowing. At last. We're at the time of th eyear when we can dream ;)

    Lynn - welcome and thanks for following :) Let me know how you get on!

    Dobby - I know - I was expecting far more comments from people saying they prefer the random approach!

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