If you are an avid gardener, your computer can be a vital part of planning for your gardening needs. You can see all the gardening planners on the internet, in the gardening catalogs, local Sunday special inserts, but its YOUR yard, YOUR soil and YOUR specific landscape that will determine what will and will not work for YOU.
Over the years, I have worked on my various garden flowerbeds, changing them from annuals to perennials, but even I forget which flowers I've planted and where. Thatís before I started using my computer - an ongoing process - that is changed and added to every year.
We live in a double wide (72'x28') (72' runs E>W) with an attached sunroom and beyond that a shop and three-car garage. Imagine having flower beds that run the full length (about4-5' deep edge of bed to house) and one end (about 6-7' from house westward) (plus distance of sunroom) filled with flowerbeds! Each bed has specific needs and requirements both in type and height of the various flowers. In addition to these beds are:
Two circles beneath matching Red Maple trees - where, after spring tulips and crocus - annuals are usually grown.
N>S bed along the driveway - approx 35' long.
E of front of house is where hybrid irises grow - approx 20' bed.
Other bedding areas are for vegetables. Discussed later.
Computerizing is a twofold process. First was to design a layout grid. When I first started I tried to just do an overall grid to locate the various bedding areas. This was fine, but did not allow for all the details. The nice thing is any good word program will allow you to create grids! I used the fine line feature to create spaces allowing each space to equal 3" - most flowers will fit a 3" grid pattern. Just make enough grids to fit all your flowering beds - some longer ones will require separate pages.
Flowers grow from spring to late fall - so duplicate your grids in order to accommodate spring flowers and later growth flowers. Photographs! One has to keep photographs of the various flowers to help with keeping track of what is growing and where it is growing! The other thing is actually spending time with a good tape measure and spending time to measure the base of the flowers so you know WHERE they actually belong on your grid.
I use a simple system - small numbers in the grid cross-referenced to the names of the flowers. (Common names - not fancy species names).
I also keep track of such things - as when I need to add more soil or compost, or divide larger growing plants when they tend to "crowd out" others.
To start create your grid as a template. SAVE IT! Then open it to create your subfolders where you can keep track of spring flowers, or summer/fall flowers. SAVE individually.
KEEP records of what grows best for you; what LOOKS best together - tall flowers to back, shorter ones to front as well as colors.
I plant in groups - several of same type and color in a staggered planting. /\/\/\/\ imagine one plant at the end of each point. This provides for a better showing of the plants. IF you are using annuals, try to pick a variety of height - ie: red salvias come in short, medium and tall. I create a "mounded" look under the maple trees, tall ones in center, shorter ones in middle and outer edges. I sometimes plant short white delphiniums around very outside edges (these are perennials).
NEVER follow the plant so far apart instructions - use your own judgment based on the type of flower involved.
I set up the vegetable gardens on grids as well. I mainly grow tomatoes and peppers, so these grids are easiest. I also plant in the same staggered pattern. I grow both in staggered rows that are fairly close together with larger space between the SETS of rows. That is to say two rows close to each other with plants in staggered position row - row, with larger open area between that set of two rows and next set of two rows. This allows you to water root areas easier. (I used raised rows of about 4-6".) Pepper plants like afternoon shade. The hotter the pepper the most shade possible seems to work the best.
In bygone years, every business gave out calendars. It seems that times have changed, and very few places give out calendars. I like large numbered calendars I can put on the wall - where I can also put special information - FAMILY birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
I use MS Publisher which has built in calendars as a base form, but you can easily create your own calendars. You can easily create your own using a word program.
Open page and set it to widest margins. Space down three spaces and put in a grid - 7 wide and 6 deep - be sure to use LINE feature to make lines show up when you print. I set this grid to CENTER, BOLD lettering. Your top grid is for abbreviated DAYS. (Space down from top is for name of month I use 60pt bold.)
BEFORE going farther, you will want to set up a SINGLE grid with lines below the top grid. Space down one and create this one - again using line feature to thickness you desire - single across with 6 down type the number 1 in each line and highlight, set to 14pt.
GO back to your top grid, CHOSE your font size - bigger the better as you want to be able to easily see this calendar from a distance. I use 48 font for numbers. I go down leftmost grid boxes and type just the number 1, highlight and change to 48 bold font.
Create 12 identical pages, then go back to your first page, create your January calendar. (You can find calendars by year on the internet. This will show you what day is #1 for each month. BE SURE TO SAVE OFTEN!
Use the lines on bottom grid to record family birthdates, anniversaries or other special days. If you want to do so - use a water color pen to mark Holidays or to mark your special days. I usually create a single page that I print out - large type - bold - the holidays for the year that our family observes.
First on my plate for today are a few Web sites I've come to rely on for Home and Garden information.
I've come to love the user forum oriented GardenWeb. If you have a question or need to identify that gorgeous but unknown flower that appeared one day, this is the place.
Of course the granddaddy of home maintenance is PBS's "This Old House". I've come to rely on this site for great information. Some topics are covered more than once. Don't let conflicting information from more than one source confuse you. There are often more than one legitimate, effective way to get a job done.
While not as well known, I've found other useful information on Ask The Builder. This is the site of Tim Carter, a nationally syndicated columnist. I've found his archived articles very helpful.
As you know many times my recommendations are an outgrowth of a personal need. This spring we knew we wanted to paint our house and we knew we wanted to change the color. My first step was to choose the brand of paint so I knew which palette I was working with. In fact right now my house is half painted. I used the Benjamin Moore Personal Color Viewer (professional version available for $10 online). My house is half painted now and the results are great. I couldn't have figured this out with confidence without having software like this. Many paint companies offer similar software with prices ranging from free in the store to $20 in the store or online. I bought my copy of the Benjamin Moore software for $10 and downloaded it. The same software at my local paint store was $20 so shop around. Here's a sample print out, housepainting.pdf, (looks better on paper, but you get the idea) from the program using a photo of my own house (requires a .pdf viewer like Acrobat Reader)
© 2004 Gail Allinson and Kaliuna (Cherry)
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