This past year, gardener Susan Ashton saw incredible savings thanks to planning her garden! At our request, she kindly shared more details about her success using the Almanac’s online Garden Planner tool. We hope you find this inspiring and useful for the future …
I’ve Used the Garden Planner for Two Different Gardens
By planning my garden on the computer with the Garden Planner, I’ve ended up saving much more than I ever expected! I grow vegetables in two separate gardens and was able to cut costs by planning out both:
- In a small backyard garden, it saved about $300 over the season.
- Using it on our larger community garden allotment to grow through the year, I saved about $500.
Here’s how I saved money—and lots of time!
The Garden Planner streamlined the planning process, saving hours over using paper and pen.
You can easily select the plants you wish to grow and place them on your virtural garden map, moving them around to find the best way to use your available space.
With busy lives, time is money and the hours you save on planning are hours that you can spend with your family or working on other projects.
Using the planner saved me around 6 hours of work, plus it saves all of my information from previous years to help me get optimum harvests.
Above pictures shows my sensible early planting and below pictures shows the wildly exuberant late planting that stayed in until October, wonderfully displaying what the succession planting tool can do!
Saving on Seeds and Plants
Using the correct spacing saved me a lot of money on seeds and on starting plug plants. I no longer over-order, as I no longer over-plant!
It can be tough to figure out how many seeds you need to order based on your available space. The Garden Planner automatically calculates the number of seeds that you can grow in the amount of space that you have for each type of plant!
Knowing that you can plant 20 fava beans in a 10 foot row means that you can order only the amount of seeds that you need for your current growing season. Most people over order seeds, spending much more than is necessary. This will also help you avoid over planting causing you to have thin out extra plants.
(Note: You still need to order a few more seeds than necessary as germination will never be 100% but it does cut the amount you guesstimate that you need by a lot.)
The first year I used the Garden Planner, I estimate that I saved $75 on ordering seeds alone.
If you were raising these starts in a heated greenhouse, that means that you would save money on the electricity or oil, the pots, compost, and so on.
Making the Best Use of Space
I started realizing the benefits of the Garden Planner’s filters, which really helped me maximize my harvest.
- Using the Frost Tolerant filter will show only plants that meet that criteria. I used this to plan for a fall and winter garden. This provided my family with salad greens all year round, meaning I didn’t need to purchase them, saving me about $100 over the year.
- Other filters include Partial Shade Tolerant, Suitable for Fall Planting, Easy to Grow, and Suitable for Square Foot Gardening. Identifying areas of partial shade in your garden will help you to place only plants that thrive in those conditions. This was very helpful, as I had greens in the less sunny area of my yard—which I wouldn’t have planted there otherwise. They thrived and left more space for sun lovers.
In addition to the filters, the Garden Planner has a Succession Planting feature to help you plant multiple crops in one space throughout the year. When one crop was finished, I was able to clear the space and plant another. This allowed me to enjoy multiple harvests from a single patch of earth.
Planning my successional sowings and plantings in advance made it a lot easier to work out what could follow on from what.
I planted multiple rounds of bush beans, many salads, early potatoes and carrots, onions and garlic, and beets. Not only did I have a more productive garden, but this saved me labor! By keeping my soil covered with the leaves and roots of crops, there were fewer opportunities for weeds, while protecting the ground from erosion caused by wind and heavy rain.
There’s also a filter for Square-Foot Gardens; I didn’t use this feature in my gardening space, but it’s a very intensive style of gardening for more harvest in less room, and especially for small spaces.
All of these methods can help control weeds in the garden which is another time saver. If you have ever used weedkiller, you will not need to do so now because the well planted crops out compete the weeds. So that will be another saving.
You may also need to buy less compost and mulch to smother weeds. (I use homemade compost, leaf mould, and organic seaweed extract on mine as an organic gardener.)
The Companion Planting feature also helped me improve my harvest; I planted vegetables that thrive with each other and deter pests. I simply selected a crop, then clicked on the heart-shaped Companion Planting button. For example, I planted borage near my tomatoes to attract bees and tiny pest-eating wasps.
I firmly believe the lack of pests helped save many plants and increase my yield.
Crop Rotation and Soil for Long-Term Rewards
Probably one of the biggest benefits of the Garden Planner came to fruition in my second year of gardening; because my plan was saved, I was able to use the Crop Rotation feature to ensure that I rotated crops in my garden beds and did not deplete the soil; the planner literally alerts you when you shouldn’t plant the same crop back in the same space!
An unexpected benefit of using the Garden Planner and keeping crops in the ground all year was that I saw less soil erosion. This saved me money on compost and other soil amendments. Also, the Garden Planner will transfer your layout from year to year and manage all of your crop rotation to help maintain your soil quality.
I hope my testimonial helps others. My $25 Garden Planner subscription easily paid out, and it was a fun way to plan, too. I enjoyed seeing all the other gardeners’ plans for inspiration as well as the many expert videos and guides. Ever year, my garden improves as do my savings. With gardening, I am always learning—and growing!
Also, you can try the Garden Planner for free, which is ample time to play around and create your first garden online! There are a lot of benefits to getting the subscription (crop rotation, planning year-to-year, etc.) but the trial will help you try it out!