Garden plans

Gardening with a little help from Excel

Every year I get out my pencil and draw a garden plan for my raised beds that provides for rotation of plants like potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and kale.

Crop rotation is no easy task when you have limited space, and so I don’t worry too much about rotating lettuce, squash, or tomatoes. At least in Alaska, these plants don’t seem to be as prone to diseases or pests that build up in the soil over multiple seasons.

Low tunnel raised bed
I use a (very) flexible soaker hose and plastic IRT mulch in my low tunnel, where I usually plant tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers, with minimal rotation.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I experimented with an Excel version of my garden layout this year. I saved the spreadsheet in my iCloud Drive and printed a paper copy so I could consult it anytime, anywhere – on my phone, my iPad, etc.

I am really pleased with the spreadsheet so far, for several reasons.

First of all, I always change my plans around a bit in the midst of planting. This year, for the first time ever, I’ve gone back and fixed my spreadsheet to reflect what I actually did, reprinted it, et voilà!

Even better, I didn’t need to worry about getting dirt, water, and illegible scribbles on my garden plan that will make it indecipherable in later years. (After carrying my old garden plans out in the garden for years, it’s getting hard to read them. I’ll probably need to trace over them and scan if I want to preserve them.)

I should mention that before I started experimenting in Excel, I did look around online for a customizable garden spreadsheet that could be downloaded for free. In 15-20 minutes, I didn’t find one that met my basic parameters … at least not for free.

The purpose of this post is to share my spreadsheet (for free and without copyright permissions required) with the disclaimer that it requires very minor spreadsheet skills. I customized this sheet with square grids to mimic the actual footage of my raised beds. I created circles and rectangles for various plants and planting schemes, based on individual plant spacing needs. I didn’t spend a lot of time on this spreadsheet, which is partly why I don’t need or want attributions. I believe that others can improve greatly on the spreadsheet – if you do so, please consider sharing your layout, too!

NOTE: I make no claims that the spacing I provided is fully adequate to the needs of my plants. For example, even though I gave my cucumbers in the low tunnel a running head start by planting them first, they will get shadowed by squash and tomato vines. This situation will only be rectified by building a new low tunnel dedicated to cucumbers 😉

I hope this spreadsheet is helpful to at least one reader, maybe in a future planting season, because … holy cow … it’s June already!

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