We are in our third year of creating our garden and one of our most important tools is our garden planning book with notes and labels. When you start planning a garden it is great to make a lot of plans on paper as it saves time, effort and money. It is great to look through books and magazines for ideas and also think about what you want to use your garden for. Do you have to consider young kids, disabilities or pets? Do you plan to grow your own food or have a purely decorative space? Do you want a formal layout or a wild billowing mass of flowers and shrubs?
Our plans were for a wildlife friendly garden with lots of food plants and space for our teenagers and friends to hang out. The book has been helpful in keeping a record of our journey. We have for instance made notes in our diary part of the book about when we started digging the pond, what plants we put around it, What is doing well and what has had to be moved and so forth. It is a lot of fun to look back through the notes and see how much you have actually accomplished. Sometimes when you are creating a garden from scratch and also are renovating your whole house it is easy to lose track of the progress and only see a lot of half finished projects. This is when the book comes in very handy for a bit of reassurance.
One section contains all our orders and it is lovely to see this two page order from the spring of 2013. Future Forests in Cork have written at the bottom of it, under packing and courier;
We got the plants into one parcel so cheaper than quoted.
This was our main tree order and a lot of the trees are now taller than any of us and wider too. It is doubtful if any of them would fit into a parcel now, even on their own. The best advice we can give to anyone starting a garden is to buy your trees small. They soon catch up and grow bigger faster than the pot grown bigger expensive specimens, sometimes available at Garden centers. It is also very important to mulch around small trees. We use double layers of cardboard boxes and natural mulch like wood chippings or straw. It only needs topping up once a year. The trees can grow away without competition from smothering weeds and without drying out. This in combination with a generous helping of well rotted manure in the planting hole has set all our trees off to a good start. Our babies are growing up!
We have made a lot of planting plans for different areas of the garden with the plant labels attached to the pages. It is fun to be able to tell friends, when you divide and share a plant, what the botanical and common name are and what particular variety they are getting. It is also nice to be able to remove the unsightly labels from trees and shrubs, but still keep track of where the different varieties are planted.
Vegetables do better if they are moved around the plot and not grown in the same soil year after year. We have made quick sketches of the beds with what was growing in which bed each year. But we now have to come clean and tell you that we forgot to do this on paper before and kept it all in our heads, but now, while preparing this post we had to look back through photos of the garden to help our memories along. The ideal is to have a four year crop rotation, and we try to do this with the big groups like onions and brassicas. We also grow a lot of mixed vegetables and try different things for different years so hopefully we can keep on avoiding pests and diseases. Our book has some practical pockets in each section for storing plans like this.
We believe that it is essential to keep a record book of the garden and if you do you will soon find that you refer to it again and again. Happy gardening!