Mary’s support staff checks her notes. (Mary Lowther photo)

Column Dig In: Creating a garden planning routine lets Mary revert to lazy

What good is having a mild winter if you can’t get into the garden?

By Mary Lowther

David and I have a visceral understanding that pressing our noses against the window pane, complaining bitterly because these monsoon rains keep us from the garden won’t make it go away.

What good is having a mild winter if you can’t get into the garden? Ah well, at least we can think about gardening and plan for next year just in case the rain stops at some point.

I’m looking forward to getting A Gardener’s Journal for Christmas because, if it’s anything like Master Gardener Linda Gilkeson says, it will help my garden planning. Presently I use my agenda book, a binder, a Duotang folder and an index card box to keep track of the garden. When I’ve finished using up the seeds in a packet, I staple the packet to an index card and write on the back pertinent information on how the variety performed. I file these cards alphabetically under the name of the vegetable in the index card holder.

My agenda book covers gardening timelines as well as everything else in my life so I don’t end up double-booking. When my youngest came home from school in Grade 5 with an agenda book I thought it was the most marvellous thing I’d ever seen to keep track of everything. They hadn’t hit the stores yet so for a few years I managed to buy one for myself from the school. Since then I’ve tried several types and found an 8.5 by 11 inch monthly planner that has each month spanning two pages works best. There’s enough room on each day to write down sowing, transplanting and other time-sensitive chores as well as my regular life appointments. I keep all my agenda books so if I need to go back and check something, it’s handy.

The binder contains my rotation plan for each bed according to the season and at this time of year I transfer next year’s rotation plan into a Duotang folder along with loose leaf paper to write down my “to do” list for each day. The binder is divided into sections for my two rotation plans, one for the sunny side and the other for the shady side, a section for seeds on hand and sections for each vegetable. In each vegetable section I include experiments I’ve done and how the vegetable performed each year, along with the weather report. Besides including the year’s garden plan and the ongoing “to do” list, I staple the year’s convenient planting guide from West Coast Seeds’ catalog into the inside cover, amended with planting dates I’ve kept track of for this locale. Their clever planting guide clearly marks out dates to sow, transplant and harvest and when to keep plants undercover.

This Duotang goes into the garden with me along with a pen, attached to a clipboard. Some folks can remember what they did and come back in after a few hours of gardening, but I need crutches. By fall my notes have gotten smudgy and messy, just in time for the new garden plan and fresh loose leaf paper.

Each day I check the agenda book and transfer what needs to be done that day into the Duotang. This way the items won’t be forgotten because they won’t be scratched off until they’re done. I love this Duotang because I get to put a line through each chore when I’ve done it and chores don’t get forgotten. I jot down ideas when they come to me in the garden, like “the onions look like they need weeding”, or “the potatoes aren’t growing so well this year, find out why”. When I’ve finished gardening for the day I look over these notes and act on them.

Like everything else, it took time to set up this routine, but once I got it going, my gardening productivity has skyrocketed and I don’t have to depend on my brain that’s already full to remember more stuff. I default to lazy, and this system fits right into my lifestyle because I don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time I garden.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Daylight Saving Time officially ends at 2 a.m. Sunday when it’s time to turn the clocks back one hour.
Time for a change

Put your clocks back one hour before going to bed Saturday night

Cowichan’s Nicole Pugh collects the ball deep in the Gorge end during her team’s season opener at the Sherman Road turf last Friday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan United runs with the big guns

Women’s soccer team holds its own against defending Div. 1 champs

Tim Gosley will be passing on some of his puppetry wisdom with a talk and workshop in Duncan in November. (Submitted)
CVAC ready to play next month in Duncan

Puppetry, Lego, basketry and more

Police service dog Herc helped RCMP locate and arrest suspects in the Ladysmith area on Oct. 23, 2020, related to a stolen vehicle. (Submitted)
RCMP nab prolific property offender in Ladysmith with assist from police dog Herc

Police attempted to stop the vehicle but it fled from the area towards Chemainus.

Matt Arnett of the Cowichan 49ers gets his head on the ball during his team’s recent meeting with the Cowichan Steelheads. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen0
Cowichan 49ers make improvements against UVic

Steelheads still looking for first goal of season

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

CBSA. (Black Press Media File)
4 sentenced in B.C. steroid smuggling, distribution ring that spilled into U.S.

Canadian Border Services Agency announced the results of a lengthy investigation it called ‘Project Trajectory’

Most Read