is a great time to get your thinking into planning your food garden for the
coming year. In my experience, good planning makes a huge difference to your
success. It helps to open your awareness to new knowledge, as you have more an
idea of what's coming, rather than stumbling along.
The resources in our Gardener subscriber site
are very much focused around helping you to quickly answer the questions below
and it’s all localised to your climate. Our spreadsheet food garden planner in
our Gardener subscriber site can be used for recording of your plan and it
helps you get down to monthly activities. If you choose to run your food garden
without any recording, this can work so long as you have a great memory and a
my tips/questions to help you develop your checklist for this year.
last year – Be as objective as possible with yourself.
- What crops grew well and
crops that did not grow so well?
- Were you being pragmatic
enough with your time, i.e. did you hang onto to crops that didn't produce
much and took up a lot of your time and space?
- What soil management
practices did you do?
- What pest and disease issues
existed and how did you deal with them?
- What new knowledge did you
gain that helped the most and what could you do better?
- Can you now manage a bigger
food garden, if so design the layout of your new garden and use the right
principles for layout?
- Can you improve the design of
your existing garden, for example more efficient use of space, better sun
- Is your garden too big to
manage based on all you other life commitments?
- What is the state of your
soil and is it appropriate for the crops you want to grow?
- Are you making compost and if
so, are your methods producing enough and of good quality?
- Are you timing your compost
making to fit your maximum planting time?
- Are you making any of your
own liquid fertiliser with animal manure and plants, if not then get
started and stop buying so many expensive organic fertilisers?
- Are you working with crop
rotation in your vegetable gardens, it work a treat with soil fertility?
- Are you using green manure
crops in your rotation cycle for your vegetable garden and fruit trees, if
not its time to get them underway
- For your vegetable/herb
garden, have you developed a rotation plan for your beds, leave some space
for perennials such as herbs?
- Have you chosen the
predominant crops for each of your vegetable garden beds and worked out
the month of planting using the ideal months?
- Have you chosen companion
plants and space filler now that you have chosen your predominant crops
for your beds?
- What new fruit trees and
edible bush foods can you plant?
- Will you work in tune with
the planets to give your planting the most benefit?
- Will you only buy high
quality planting stock and aim to save seeds/cutting from your best crops?
- Is your garden easy to manage
in its current layout and design, if not think about how to make it easier
to work with and at the same time generating higher quality soil?
- Are you overusing mulch and
could you use more living crops for mulching such as green manure and
- Is water an issue for your
garden, either too much water or too little, if so what changes can you
- Have you any predominant
weeds in your garden, if so have you considered turning them into liquid
fertiliser and giving their nutrients back to the garden?
- Have you thrown out all
poisons, if not you will always be fighting a loosing battle in your
organic garden because you will be killing life in the soil?
- Are you encouraging smaller
bird families to visit your garden and be the garden protectors from
bigger animals and to clean up caterpillars and bugs?
- Do you have a bee hive near
your food garden; it makes a huge difference to pollination?
- For your vegetable garden,
are you using companion planting to reduce pests?
- Is soil quality your primary
pest and disease reduction strategy, if not then make it so?
- For your fruit trees, are you
dealing with pests and diseases organically, as they arise?
- Have you developed an
awareness of how you want to feel in your food garden, as your feelings
have a big impact on how the garden grows?
- Will you create space in your
busy day to sit in your garden to observe and contemplate?
- Can you picture eating
healthy enlivened food from your garden every day and having a meal which
is totally from your garden?
that is a lot of questions to work with, but they are all important when you do
your plan. I work with these questions each year as I plan my own food gardens.
by Peter Kearney – www.cityfoodgrowers.com.au