“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” – Audrey Hepburn

If you prowl around enough behind the scenes at Glenwood Gardens, you will probably find a series of red binders. These red binders seem innocuous enough, but in them contains the vegetable garden plan for the year. There are other binders and other maps for each and every one of the seven themed gardens. There’s a map for every one of the containers.





Three binders sit in a stack. From top to bottom, they are labeled as "Vegetable Histories," "Vegetable Garden Plan," and "Vegetable Garden Indoor."
I have to say, I love planning and dreaming. It’s one of my favorite parts of being a gardener.

That sounds like a lot! But really, it isn’t too bad. A day with a paper and pen can help streamline your gardening for the better! Besides, it’s the middle of winter anyway. So curl up under your blankets and let your imagination soar as we delve into tomorrow’s garden today!

Planning a garden is a lot like budgeting. Yes, money will be involved, but also time, energy and space. So start off by asking yourself some questions. Do you want to start from seed? Because that will take a lot of time and energy, but less money in the long run. (Check out the blog The Inside Garden on tips on how to start a garden from seed.) Do you want to start from transplants? This will take less time and energy, but will cost you more money.

What kind of plants are you interested in? Native plants? Ornamentals? Vegetables? Herbs? Maybe you just want to Experiment! What time of the year do you want to start? In the spring? Summer?

How much space do you have or are willing to set aside? (Little space? Think vertical!) Is it in full sun or is it in the shade? Is the place ready to go or is there work to be done before you put plants in ground?

Now I know that sounds like a lot of questions to ask yourself, but they are necessary and will lay the foundation for your garden to grow in. And the foundation is always the most important part. But the good news is you only really have to lay it once.

Once you’ve answered these questions, now it’s time for the fun part! Break out the markers or colored pencils and get drawing! I love to draw everything out. I love having a picture, a vision of what I need to plant, and where everything goes. That way I know I have space for everything. Because for me, space is always the limiting factor. Maybe money is the limiting factor for you, and you might want to write out a budget. Or perhaps it’s time, so you might want to plan out everything in a planner. Hey, whatever works best for you!

A map drawn on a piece of paper shows a layout for a vegetable garden.
A typical page from our vegetable garden binder. We have every two weeks of the year planned out. You don’t have to go that in-depth though!
A piece of notebook paper shows a hand-drawn map for a garden layout.
This is an awesome plan for a small yard. It’s okay if it’s a little messy. As long as you know what’s up!

When you have an idea in mind, it’s OK to come back and edit it; it’s not set in stone. Maybe that place you were planning on buying your transplants from ran out, or you found your deer have a thing for hot peppers. Or a heavy rain washed out everything or a sudden drought set everything back three weeks. That’s fine! Change the plan as needed. Swap things out. Adjust your schedule. Consider building a fence.

I highly recommend keeping a garden journal and noting changes to the plan or observations you made. Maybe you notice a new bug really has a taste for cucumbers. Or there are bag worms devouring your fruit tree. Perhaps that one variety of tomatoes just isn’t doing as well as the others. Write these observations down and what you did when these occurred, that way you can look back on it for years to come and avoid pitfalls that you fell into along the way.

Being a good gardener is being able to plan ahead, but also part of being a gardener is being able to change and adapt as needed and learn from your mistakes. Because although we plant and plan for tomorrow, you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Allyson Ernst
Nature Interpreter, Glenwood Gardens