If you grow more than a handful of things, garden planning quickly becomes an essential task. (It also gives you something to look forward to in January.) This means things like a journal to track what you grew previous years (and how well it grew). A highlighter to mark up your seed catalogs, and a notebook to keep track of potential new varieties and which catalog they came from. And once you get the seeds, you’ll need a seed starting calendar to plan out your planting schedule.
Every year it seems like I’m adding a few new things that I’ve never grown, or haven’t tried for many years. This year is no exception, as I’ve almost doubled my garden space, and added more than a dozen new vegetables to the plan. The problem with this is, eventually, even my ultra-sharp mind just can’t keep up with everything anymore. When I was just starting a few things inside it wasn’t too hard to keep track of things, but this year everything seems to be on its own staggered schedule, and it was getting to be too much.
To help myself out, I created this seed starting calendar in Excel. It’s very simple, with color-coding denoting when to start what, inside, transplanting, and direct sow outside. It’s still pretty basic, and doesn’t include any succession planting (I still just keep track of that in my head) or anything overly fancy, but it’s helped out so far. I based it mostly on my experience with growing things previously (for plants I’ve raised before) and seed packet info/book sources/etc. (for the newer additions). Of course, this will likely change over time as I can fine tune what works best for my area, but it’s a good starting point. It may also change based on the weather – for example, since it’s been so warm, I started chard and lettuce outside already.
This is something easy to create and very helpful if you’re growing a wide variety of plants, each with their own unique schedule – I’d definitely recommend it to anyone.
The example below is based on Zone 5, Cleveland area. Full file is available here to modify as you see fit!