So y'all I've been gardening for decades, and yet it wasn't til this year I finally broke down and plonked down $30 for GardenPlanner design tool. You see, most of the software out there does nothing for my visualizer mind. And if I'm honest? This doesn't fulfill all my needs either. I need 3D with REAL photos of to integrate into my yard - has anyone invented this yet? Doubt it. (But the dream to have software someday where I can upload a photo of my garden and insert actual photos of mature plants, kind of like on those Fixer Upper-ish home renovation shows, still lives on...)
All that being said, this new software application (I did the free trial to make sure I could figure out how to use it relatively easy, as I'm the type that if it's not fairly intuitive, I won't use it as I hate long trainings & tutorials in front of a screen) has helped me at the very least see how much room I have, how much room I need to give various plants - like our dwarf-but-not-fully-mature fruit trees - as well as where I have plenty of room to add more.
This is also not just for planning - it's for memory! Not having to go outside on an especially chilly or sideways-rainy day is a blessing, I must say, so the day I got this I went out onto the new deck we'd just built and sent my husband around with the 100' tape measure (we used it back on the farm and I am SO glad I kept it as the normal ones never are long enough and are often too rickety - or am I the only person who has literally broken multiple tape measures?!), to get every single measurement right in the garden, from the overall dimensions to where current paths exist to where the raised beds begin, where the rain tanks are placed, the deck and so much more. I admit I didn't get that anal retentive with exact plant placement, but I did do some guesstimates on how far apart they were planted to see where my gaps were.
The Planner has a set number of plants and hardscapes and 'pots' and such, which was helpful if not realistic in their depictions, but a few things I had to get creative on, like my trellises that are going betweeen the raised beds and the circles I made for rain tanks. But you get the picture when you see it below...and boy is it a different vibe already than the original aerial that was in the house listing!
As you can see, the backyard was pretty darn sparse (see it up close in the before & after shots in my 'first 90 days' post), and how getting those stumps ground out made such a big difference in the viability of the back 'fruit forest' area I'm creating. In the planner, I couldn't figure out their version of roofs so I just made it into a black square, while also exposing the covered patio in order to remember how much actual hardscaping there is back there. I also extended the clothesline out so that for planning purposes, I wasn't putting anything potted or otherwise directly under where clothes would be hanging on laundry day. Other than that, I've only done a wee bit of actual 'planning' - i.e., figuring out what goes in next. A pear tree? A climbing rose? Pots where the far-too-oversized fire pit would be? We shall see.
But no worries, I still am a pen & paper gal at heart. Y'all, I can't imagine life without a good spiral notebook to jot out my plans, particularly whenever designing a new veggie garden, or in years prior (especially on the farm where I had oodles more room), figuring out how I was planning to rotate crops year over year. So this is what I've got in my mind for 2024's veggie garden, with trellises to experiment with between the beds (to keep roving ducks from snacking on leaves of climbers that they love so much), and determining what I want more - and less - of.
I love growing shell peas but what you get for how much space it takes has always frustrated me. I was originally planning to grow more tomatoes but have realized in the last year or so that my body appears to be developing a slight intolerance to the acidity of tomatoes (but not all nightshades, ironically) - or as I said when I realized it? What. The. Fuck. On the positive side, I'm crushing big time on delicata squash as an imperfect sub for my favorite food, sweet potatoes, after accidentally growing it back on the farm (thanks to a mislabeled seed packet!). And after my brilliant harvests of onions back on the farm and not giving onions the time of day in our city cottage? I am back to dedicating more space to sweet yellow storage onions (and some reds to boot).
Getting realistic about how much you consume year-round should, in my opinion, always impact what you decide to grow each year - never be afraid to make adjustments, as there's nothing worse than getting too much of something you don't know what to do with, and running out early of your staples (hello, garlic heartbreak after last year's freak mushy crop, ugh...).
Now, time to get to those catalogs and plot out when I need to get sets and seed potatoes ordered, and of course, maybe a few organic heirloom seeds to try out...
“An addiction to gardening is not all bad when you consider all the other choices in life.” ~ Cora Lea Bell