This can be a very confusing, tedious, and stressful task. However, there are many resources we have drawn upon to get a handle on this. One of the first and most valuable has been knowing how long a crop takes to mature, or date to harvest. We can use this number to calculate when we should plant in order to get good timing on our harvest. If we plant five crops on the same day that all have similar maturity dates then we will not have a good staggering of production. There are three useful spreadsheets that we have been developing:
- Indoor and Outdoor Planting Chart. This guides us as to when we should start seeds for transplants, and then we record actual planting dates. Some crops like Broccoli we will do multiple indoor plantings. Also included on this chart will be when we set the plants out to “harden off” and then plant in the field.
- Bed Rotation Chart. We are not using this yet since we have not started planting in the field, but we will use it to decide where we plant a crop and make sure they are being properly rotated from year to year.
- Harvest Calendar. This can be used backwards. It is used to plan the harvest times, but also used to determine first plantings and succession plantings. This is supper important when planning for a CSA, but not as critical for farmers market. We hope to offer the produce as a CSA subscription next year so we are practicing first before we go public.
Some useful tools we like, in no particular order:
- Online resources for farmers on the Johnny’s seeds website
- Growing For Market (Magazine)
- The New Sees Starter Handbook (Book)
- Talking to successful growers