Getting the Growing Season Planned Out

I found a small parcel of land to lease for the 2019 season. My plan for this season is to stay small so that I can get accustomed to the Eastern Shore’s growing season. I will be growing a wide range of seedlings for the home gardener and in the field I will have tomatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, gourds, and heirloom popcorn.

This year’s field

 

It has been cold and windy here, the perfect weather for staying inside to plan out the growing season. I use a series of spreadsheets to turn my ideas into a workable crop plan. The first spreadsheet is used for seed calculation. I make a list of the crops I want to grow and how much I would like to harvest each week. This allows me to figure out exactly how many seeds I need, then I add an extra 20% to cover poor germination and more importantly human error.

Seed calculation

 

The second spreadsheet is the seed order. I take the crop and seed need columns then I break down which varieties I want of each crop, what seed company I will purchase it from, and the amount of seed I need to order (every company is different some sell by the individual number of seeds, some sell in grams, ounces, pounds, etc.). I just placed all my seed orders last week. I will continue to grow many heirloom varieties but this year I will be trying some hybrid varieties that have disease and pest resistance. Also I will be experimenting with three grafted tomatoes varieties.

Seed order

 

The third spreadsheet is the planting schedule. I take the crop, the variety, and seed need columns from the seed order spreadsheet into this one. Then I add a column for seeding date, transplant date, and first harvest date. The planting schedule is the spreadsheet that I will be using almost everyday to know which seeds need to be started or transplanted. So I add two columns to write in the actual date for seeding and transplanting. This spreadsheet takes the most time as you have to cross reference a calendar and take into consideration frost dates, desired harvest, and/ or market outlets.

Planting schedule

 

Making a crop plan requires that you know where you will be marketing your crops. I am applying to a local farmers market. As this is my first year growing in Maryland I know that it is possible I will run into more challenges than I normally do in the field. This could result in low yields or unexpected delays in harvest dates. I feel a farmers market is a great venue when you are unsure of what you will have ready when and at what amount.

 

The next task on my ever growing to-do list is getting the greenhouse set up and gathering supplies for starting seeds.

 

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