How to plan and work with a garden calendar

I am happy to report that my garden project is going very well! I am learning so much and – as things go when you’re working with living things – I can see growth daily! The biggest tasks that I had to get to during this last month, was to get the soil ready for planting, get seeds in the seedling trays and set up my veggie garden. The veggie garden set-up is still a work in progress – more on that next week. But for today, I am very excited to share my planting plan with you. And the only way to do that I find, is by using a garden diary. So here is my take on how to plan and keep a garden calendar to help you in managing your garden.

I used inexpensive foam seedling trays and filled them with great quality, weed-free potting soil. Your plants are really only going to be as healthy as the soil, so ensure that you use the best you can find.

garden diary

Next, I identified the Mayford seeds that I wanted to sow into seedling trays (some seeds are direct sow only). Mayford has a delicious selection of veggies and herbs, as well as pretty flowers to complement your kitchen garden. You’ll notice that these seed packets have the words hermetically sealed printed on them. This just basically means that the package is airtight – just in case you were wondering ;-).

I made little labels using craft sticks and permanent marker. Make sure it’s permanent, otherwise the writing will wash off and you won’t have any idea what you planted where!

garden diary

Put the markers into the seedling tray first and then, using the dibble, make holes in each tray and pop the corresponding seeds into the soil. Cover up with more potting soil, water – and wait!

garden diary

Make sure you keep it moist, but not wet. I have a little makeshift green house in the back yard – a lightweight aluminium frame covered with heavy-duty plastic – that works perfectly for seeds and delicate plants. It also keeps my strawberries safe from peckish squirrels. I have a very basic sprinkler system in there that is connected to my irrigation system so that I can easily control the amount and duration of water I want.

garden diary

garden diary

So that’s the easy part. Knowing what’s what, how long before you need to transplant, and how long until harvest time is where the garden calendar comes in. I am a bit of an excel-fanatic, and putting everything on a spreadsheet really makes sense to me. And once you get the formulas right, it is very easy to plan what you need to do when. You don’t HAVE to use a spreadsheet, but for the amount of things I planted, and for the size of my garden, it is essential.

Make notes of the day that you plant the seeds, at what height / size or after how many days you have to transplant, and how many days to harvest. My calendar looks like this:

garden calender

Click here for the template!

So now I can see that I will have a wonderful harvest come January and February, with a few things next month already and some only in May. And this where staggered planting comes in. But more on that in a future post!

Here are my seedling trays 1 week after planting. So much happening in such a small amount of time!

garden calender

In my next post, I will show you how to make raised beds, and how to plan for companion planting. Exciting stuff!

Happy gardening!


This post is sponsored by Efekto.



Practical steps to preparing the perfect soil

My gardening journey has begun, and I have completed my first task on the road to garden glory! Before I get into the essentials of preparing the perfect soil, let’s first do a bit of an audit so that you can see where my garden is at the moment.


My Veggie Garden Audit

  1. I have 3 lovely olive trees. I missed the fruit this year, but made stunning preserved olives last year! Definitely on the cards for 2017.
  2. 2 rather sad-looking strawberry plants.
  3. Spinach that have become a feast for snails.
  4. Beetroot that is seriously just not thriving.
  5. A very young avo tree.
  6. Beautiful onion flowers – I have always had LOADS of onion flowers, but not really any onions. I suspect this has something to do with the fact that I allow them to flower.
  7. Snails – full and fat and strong like Popeye.
  8. Cling peaches. To be honest, I have about 6 of these trees, and in the 5 years we’ve been on the farm, I have yet to have a successful harvest.
  9. Rocket – this grows like weeds in the garden, and I love it!
  10. Unidentified as yet green worm.
  11. French Lavender – beautiful and fragrant, this is supposed to keep bugs away while attracting butterflies and the like. Another great benefit of onion flowers!

So it’s not all bad when you look at it up close. When you stand back and get an overall picture though, it’s uninspiring at best.

preparing the beds

Raised Beds

Many of my raised beds have been trampled by cattle, but luckily there are a few that are still intact. I am going to start preparing the soil in those so that I can do succession planting – this is where you plant at intervals to ensure a consistent harvest of a crop throughout the season.

Raised beds are not essential, but they have many benefits:

  • You can contain the good quality soil that you want in the bed
  • You can easily add compost and plant food
  • It’s easier to work at a raised height

I will look at raised beds and garden design next month, so make sure you subscribe that I can keep you up to date!

Analise your soil

You will first need to figure out what kind of soil you have. Soil is made up of 3 different soil particles, namely clay, silt and sand. The combination of particles will determine how suitable your soil is for planting vegetables. To test you soil, take a handful and squeeze it into a ball. If it falls apart immediately, it’s sandy. If it forms a tight ball, it’s clayey. But if it forms a soft ball that slowly crumbles apart, you’ve got the perfect sandy loam mixture and you’re in business!

If your soil is less than great, don’t despair! By adding sand and compost into soil with a high clay content, you can rectify the situation. Lime can also be added to improve the soil, but if it is really bad then it’s best to make raised beds and adding loamy topsoil.

To better sandy soil, add loads of compost, peaty moss and other organic matter.

Preparing the soil

Once you know that your soil is suitable for planting, you will need to prepare the beds. I got the boys all excited and off to the veggie garden we went to get the soil ready.

preparing the beds

  1. Loosen the soil with a fork, and remove any stones and weeds.
  2. Add some Wonder Organic Bone Meal this puts nitrogen in the soil which is great for leaf production and phosphorus which is essential for strong roots. 3 handfuls per bed should do the trick. Then work that into the soil.
  3. Next, add loads of organic compost and manure. Living on a farm, compost and manure are 2 things that we have a lot of. Manure is an amazingly nutritious fertilizer, but make sure that it isn’t raw: the nitrogen levels in fresh manure is too high and will cause an imbalance in your soil and damage the plants. It has to be composted first, either by mixing it into your compost heap or by composting it on its own. If you don’t have a compost heap, don’t worry – I will get into that in a follow-up post. Once you’ve made that black gold, you won’t know how you ever gardened without it!
  4. Make sure that you work the compost into the soil.

If you have to buy compost, make sure that it is organic and certified weed-free. Your plants are only going to be as healthy as the soil it grows in, so give it the best start you can!

Now water! The idea is to get any weed seeds that may have snuck in, to germinate before you plant your veggies. Over the next few weeks, pull up the weeds BEFORE they go to seed and leave on top of the soil to dry in the sun. By using the weeds as mulch or composting them and working them back into the soil, you preserve the precious nutrients that they took out of the soil.

In a few weeks, I’ll be ready to start planting. In the meantime, there is lots to do: sewing seeds into seedling trays and getting the pathways and irrigation sorted out. And hopefully, I’ll be able to sort out those peach trees!

Happy Gardening!


This post is sponsored by Efekto and Wonder.