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Field map and field…

Field map and field

Here’s the new garden map, companion to the two calendars, all part of the latest version of my planning set-up. The simplicity and spareness are deceptive, this is the result of FIVE YEARS of refining complicated planning and record-keeping paperwork, stripping away stuff I didn’t really use. Really! My old maps were way more detailed, with varieties and planting dates for each bed, hand-printed in really tiny letters (each of those squares represents a 50’x50′ section containing 10 beds). The grid now takes up only half the page, leaving lots of room for little notes, and the sections are just big enough for blocking in the crops (varieties, dates and bed locations go on a separate list). It’s not fully filled in yet, and everything’s in pencil for easy rearranging. I was working on it today along with the seed order list, and took it for a walk to take the pic. Pretty plain on paper, but when I look at it, I see the whole season unfolding… (Overnight last night, the snow suddenly came back!)



  1. I like it. I’ve done something similar for my smaller scale enterprise, but this year I’ve gone into technicolour! Were you using the plan to remind yourself where the beds were under all that snow as well?

  2. VP: I’d like to have nice little (color!) sketches of all the crops, but I’d be all winter doing it! Yours looks great, I especially like the key… :) I’ll eventually post a photo of my System in its full glory: calendars, map, lists, plus samples of the older versions. It’s quite utilitarian, not too…pretty, but I’ve learned that for the size of the market garden, every map embellishment ends up being something I won’t keep up with once the season gets going… Function over form in this case!

  3. sunwarm

    Your plan is just what I’m aiming for!
    I’ve been just reading a pamphlet about cover cropping and rotations which suggests incorporating the covers into your planting plan. Do you do this? I haven’t really used covers to much effect so far, but I would like to increase the amount I plant. We have a very short growing season so I find it difficult to get a cover established in the spring before the late crops, and don’t get things out of the ground until it’s too late for growth!

  4. sunwarm

    Slightly related question, and I apologize if you’ve already answered this:
    Following back through some of your entries, I read your descriptions of planting oats. You mentioned that you tried several methods to cover (or not cover) the seeds. Did you find any difference in germination when you left the seeds uncovered?
    I’ve had poor results from hand-broadcasting seed, and I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong.

  5. sunwarm: I’m sort of half-joking when I go into all this detail about calendars and field maps, like, who’d care?, but it really is SERIOUS STUFF. :) If you don’t have a simple, straightforward record-keeping system that you’ll actually keep updated through the season, then really annoying problems arise when you need to check something. I’ve found it’s amazing what you can forget in a fair-sized market garden. So, I’m always trying to make things as functional and easy as I can, so that taking notes is a part of the routine, not an afterthought. Like, to take paper into the field, I’ve gone to near-obsessive lengths to keep field maps and lists, whatever I’m writing on, on single sheets, ’cause all kinds of things can happen when you start turning pages in the field… Now, when I take a clipboard out (this picture above being an exception, I just stepped out to take the photo), I put an elastic around the bottom, and when I set it down, I always turn it paper face down.I’ve chased my share of pages and had more than one pile of wet and bleeding sheets (use pencil and waterproof ink). See what I mean about details… ;)

    Anyhow, to your first question, about including cover crops. I’m in the same situation as you, this fall was my first larger-scale use of green manure cover crops. I do a lot of succession planting, and some areas are replanted in the same season, but I’ve so far crammed the info onto the same map. This year, though, I’ll use two or three. If you notice in the bottom right of the sheet, I left blanks for the year and month. The idea is to start a second map partway through the season, carry forward the standing crops, and fill in the succession and cover crops. For example, once peas are done, I may use some of that area for late summer/fall lettuce, so that would be noted on Map 2 in place of the peas. At the end of the season, I’ll staple the 2 or 3 maps together and have it all at hand…

    We’ll see how that goes!

    Right now, I don’t have the cover crops marked (I will), but I do have the sections that are fully fall-prepped indicated with a little X in the top left corner of each box.

    I’ve copied your second question, about direct seeding cover crops, to the forum—Small-scale seeding of cover crops—’cause I’ve now really found it’s easier to keep track of stuff there…

  6. Katie

    Hey Mike,

    Sometimes I feel like I’m more in love with planning than gardening. Ha! Love the simplistic approach to mapping…

    Katie at GardenPunks

  7. Katie: That’s a funny observation. Planning does take on a life of its own, it’s great, just about anything’s possible, and then you get to the doing and hope the two kinda stay connected! :)

  8. Hi Mike – Thanks for the plan compliments. I’ve only coloured in the permanent crops. Like you, the annual crops are in monochrome – except where manure’s to be added, so they’ve been highlighted in bright yellow.

    I’ve photocopied loads of blank plans ready for next year etc., so I won’t have to get my colouring crayons out for a very long time ;)

    Have you tried waterproof paper? I used to use it for my field work – very useful when you’re standing in a river, plotting what the habitat is. Looks like it could be just the thing…

    I lool forward to seeing the full set of plans in their full glory…

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