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Saturday January 7, 2012
Post Title: Organic garden plan for this year  

January 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 its 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 small garden.

Here are my tips/questions to help you develop your checklist for this year.

Recap on last year Be as objective as possible with yourself.

  1. What crops grew well and crops that did not grow so well?
  2. 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?
  3. What soil management practices did you do?
  4. What pest and disease issues existed and how did you deal with them?
  5. What new knowledge did you gain that helped the most and what could you do better?

Your garden space  

  1. Can you now manage a bigger food garden, if so design the layout of your new garden and use the right principles for layout?
  2. Can you improve the design of your existing garden, for example more efficient use of space, better sun and drainage?
  3. Is your garden too big to manage based on all you other life commitments?

Soil fertility

  1. What is the state of your soil and is it appropriate for the crops you want to grow?
  2. Are you making compost and if so, are your methods producing enough and of good quality?
  3. Are you timing your compost making to fit your maximum planting time?
  4. 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?
  5. Are you working with crop rotation in your vegetable gardens, it work a treat with soil fertility?
  6. 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

Planting plan

  1. For your vegetable/herb garden, have you developed a rotation plan for your beds, leave some space for perennials such as herbs?
  2. Have you chosen the predominant crops for each of your vegetable garden beds and worked out the month of planting using the ideal months?
  3. Have you chosen companion plants and space filler now that you have chosen your predominant crops for your beds?
  4. What new fruit trees and edible bush foods can you plant?
  5. Will you work in tune with the planets to give your planting the most benefit?
  6. Will you only buy high quality planting stock and aim to save seeds/cutting from your best crops?

Garden management

  1. 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?
  2. Are you overusing mulch and could you use more living crops for mulching such as green manure and edible companions?
  3. Is water an issue for your garden, either too much water or too little, if so what changes can you make?
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. 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?
  7. Do you have a bee hive near your food garden; it makes a huge difference to pollination?

Pests and diseases

  1. For your vegetable garden, are you using companion planting to reduce pests?
  2. Is soil quality your primary pest and disease reduction strategy, if not then make it so?
  3. For your fruit trees, are you dealing with pests and diseases organically, as they arise?

Your well being

  1. 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?
  2. Will you create space in your busy day to sit in your garden to observe and contemplate?
  3. Can you picture eating healthy enlivened food from your garden every day and having a meal which is totally from your garden?


I know 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.


Authored by Peter Kearney www.cityfoodgrowers.com.au

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Peter Kearney, Cityfood Growers

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