As always I try out a new way to plan my vegetable garden every year. I’ve tried square foot gardening. I’ve gardened according to the moon. I followed Vegetable Gardening Week-by-Week. I’ve used the Farmer’s almanac. This year I’m using a new program called Smart Gardener. This program is put together by Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Renee’s Garden and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Storey Publishing. I discovered the program at some point last year and experimented with it a bit for my Fall/Winter garden. I was quite excited to start using it for this season.
I’ve always wanted an automated system to tell me when to do projects in my garden. Smart Gardener delivers! Here’s how it works… I should mention the program is FREE!
First, sign up for an account. Did I mention it’s free?
Once you sign up for an account you set up your garden.
Tell the program where you live, how many people are in your family, what your food preferences are and such. Then you move onto layout. Drag and drop the various shapes into the plan. Specify if they are raised beds or in-ground. Then start selecting your plants.
You can select plants by “what to plant now” or you can browse all. The plants to select from are nearly all the seeds available in the 4 company’s catalogs. Click “add to garden” and if you don’t have that seed in your inventory click “add to cart”. The shopping portion tells you which company, how much it costs and useful information about the plant. You can refine your search on the left sidebar.
Once you’ve selected all of the plants you would like to plant in your garden then click on plan. This will then put all of the plants you’ve selected into your garden for you.
This is where you may have to do a little modifying… at least I did. I have certain things planted that are perennial. Rhubarb, blueberries, asparagus and strawberries really don’t move. I started with my fruits and perennial vegetables and then locked those into place. After that I went with the annual vegetables. The program selects where you should plant the plants. It does so based on a whole whack of different circumstances. It takes into consideration companion planting, crop rotation, light levels and other stuff that even I don’t understand. Once they are all placed try clicking on an icon. The left hand side will tell you more information.
There are other little benefits to the program too.
You can customize each individual plant. Tell it you are starting it inside instead of outside. Adjust the quantity.
The program will tell you when you need to do specific plantings and which fertilizers you should use at the time of planting. It will also send you a handy little email reminder that it’s time to plant your onion seeds indoors.
Last but not least, there is a garden journal section too. Tell it when you started something indoors and it will tell you when to transplant it outside. Tell it when you planted it outside and it will tell you when to harvest it. Of course this is all a guideline.
Once you are all finished planning hit the checkout button and get your seed order with 4 different companies completed at once!
I love 99% of this program. What 1% don’t I like? I can’t rotate my beds on an angle and it doesn’t draw curves. My particular garden doesn’t look like your average vegetable garden. However, I’m a fairly advanced veggie gardener (one would assume given that my beds are laid out totally wonky). I can figure it out.
The company also recently completed a Kickstarter to try to fund a mobile app. I’m not sure if it was fully funded or not. I do hope it was. I would love to have it for the journal option alone. I garden with my phone in my back pocket and if I could mark something as planted or recheck what I should be starting I wold be in heaven.
I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as excited for a gardening program as I am for this one. I’m telling everyone about it. Go check it out!