What is a planting plan?
A planting plan is a tool gardeners and farmers use to map where and what vegetables they will grow throughout the year. In Kansas City we have three planting seasons during each year: spring, summer and fall. A planting plan helps gardeners organize their garden so that they have something growing and producing food during each planting season.
A planting plan allows us to use the average growing season days for various varieties to map out on a calendar how long our vegetables will be in the ground growing and when our vegetables can be harvested. Furthermore, the plan will show us when a particular area within the garden will be free to be replanted with some other vegetable. What this means is that we can plant something in the early spring and then know what we can plant there in summer and/or fall.
A planting plan will also help calculate the seeds, plants and other inputs that you will need for the growing season; this information will help you with budgeting and pre-ordering supplies.
How to Create a Plan:
If you gardened last year, take time to review your successes and difficulties. If you had vegetables that did really well, or perhaps your family enjoyed eating more of one vegetable than the other make notes and save them for step two. Other things to consider include: Were there vegetables that required more care than you had time for? Were there vegetables that you had way too many of and couldn’t eat, preserve or give away? Write that information down as well, we’ll need it for step two.
Make a list of vegetables that you want to grow. Take into account information from your previous year’s garden – such as quantity and time commitment. When making this list it helps to separate out your vegetables into two columns, label these columns cool season vegetables and warm season vegetables. Cool season vegetables are typically planted in the spring and fall while warm season vegetables are planted in the summer. If you need help distinguishing between cool and warm season vegetables please take a look at KCCG’s “Cool and Warm Season Vegetable Growing Guide.” When making this list we also recommend ordering your vegetables from most important to you to least important. Put the vegetables that you want to grow the most of on the top and finish with the vegetables that you only want to plant a few of. If you have previous years records or if you have a good idea how much space you want to devote to each of the vegetables in these two lists, mark that down beside each vegetable. This step will make the mapping process easier, ensuring that we get the vegetables that we want to most of enough space within our garden.
Map out your garden. It is best to draw your garden as close to scale as possible. If needed, take out a measuring tape and measure your garden’s dimensions then plot that onto graph paper or into a computer program. A good map needs more than the outside dimensions of your plot – make sure to include the number of rows or beds that you will have within your garden. These rows or beds should have the dimensions labeled. This is important because we need to know the area (square footage), that you will be devoting to each vegetable in order to take advantage of our planting planning tools. Once your map is drawn, we recommend scanning it into a computer, or printing multiple copies for future use.
Once you have your map drawn out, you will need to make three copies, label one spring, one summer and one fall.
Lay out your three maps. Starting with the vegetables that you want the most of, plot out the vegetables on your maps. This step requires that you have an understanding of when your vegetables will be planted; either, spring, summer and or fall. A useful tool for this step is KCCG’s “Planting Calendar” which outlines the optimum planting dates for all vegetables that grow well in our area. You can also use KCCG’s Planting Planning Matrix. This tool will help you determine which vegetables can be planted before or after each other, for more information see KCCG’s “Planting Planning Matrix.”
This tool will help you determine the number of seed packets and transplants that you’ll need to purchase in order to follow your planting plan. For each vegetable in your plan insert the following. 1. Estimated planting date. a. Calculator will tell you the estimated date you can expect to harvest that vegetable. 2. Select the seed and plant spacing that you will use for each vegetable. 3. Insert the total square feet of garden area that you are devoting to each vegetable. a. Calculator will determine the number of seed packs and vegetable transplants that you’ll need to plant this area using both the area you inserted and the spacing selected.
- Graph Paper & Ruler
- Tape Measure
- Kansas City Community Gardens “Cool and Warm Season Vegetable Growing Guide”*
- Kansas City Community Gardens “Planting Calendar”*
- Kansas City Community Gardens “Raised Bed Planting Guide”*
- Kansas City Community Gardens “Vegetable Plant Families guide”*
- Kansas City Community Gardens “Planting Planning Assistant”
- Kansas City Community Gardens “Planting Planning Calculator”
- MU Extension “Vegetable Planting Calendar”*
Click below to download sample plans:
Benefits of a Planting Plan
More food: A planting plan helps you plan your garden out over all three seasons. A well thought out plan will allow you to grow more food in a smaller area, which is important when working with small plots. KCCG has tools to make this easy for any gardener, no matter your experience.
Easy record keeping: Making a plan each year will allow you to evaluate what your successes and difficulties were each season. Looking over previous years’ plans will assist you in making adjustments to future plans. To further improve your planting plan and record keeping we recommend keeping a garden journal, as well as tracking the weight of produce that you harvest from your garden.
Rotations: Rotating vegetables within your garden is essential. Rotating vegetables in a small garden is not always easy but it can help lessen the impact of future disease and insect infestation. A good rotation schedule will limit vegetables within a same family from being planted within the same area of your garden for 3-4 years.
Keep your garden organized: Having a plan will allow you to stay on top of your garden tasks. By knowing when your vegetables will need to be planted and harvested you will easily be able to prepare, ensuring you have all the needed supplys and help that you need when you need it.