If you have ever despaired of finding a simple and maintainable method of garden record keeping, I may have an option for you. I use grid charts of my main vegetable garden’s raised beds, combined with uncomplicated sketches of various garden/landscape beds around the yard. The grids are scale representations fairly easily created from something like Microsoft Excel or Apple Pages. I’m clumsy with either, and I still manage to end up with functional charts. Some other garden areas are small enough that they are only listed in outline form, leaving room for notes.
(Below: some of the real raised beds) (all photos should enlarge when clicked on)
Each grid, or area, is on a separate sheet of paper, which I can lay out on the table in front of me as a visual to my yard. On these, I keep a running list of what was planted in that area for the prior 3 years. This is easily transferred to the new plans each season. I also have a quick key on each page to keep me oriented to which raised bed I am working on, and, so that as I need to move them to write on, I can easily put them back correctly. I make this key based on how I am looking at the garden from the house, since even for the rest of the year I spend a lot of time at the kitchen window (sink) viewing it from that orientation.
(Below: last year’s charts before I took them down to work on this year’s)
A semi-alphabetical list of vegetables to be planted is worked off of as I choose locations and companion plantings. Things such as compatibility of growth habits and potential cross pollination can be considerations. For instance, onions can be planted very close to broccoli or pumpkins at the feet of corn for space usage; vegetables that tend to share diseases or pests can be separated to help check any outbreaks; succession plantings, such as peas followed by summer squash, can be noted and then are less likely to be forgotten.
(Note that my pole bean trellis is designed to straddle a walkway, thus one row is in one raised bed and the other in the adjacent bed.)
The scale factor helps me know ahead of time what will really fit in each garden bed. Since most of the areas are more spaces than rows, I can also do block plantings of things like herbs, lettuce, or beets. Perennial gardens can be more thoughtfully laced with eye-catching veggies, as well as annual flowers. And finally, it gives me clear direction about where to begin. Where do I finish cleaning up debris first? Where do I weed right away? (I can plant peas anytime now! If I can find a few hours when the ground is not frozen or too deeply covered with snow….)
I tape these charts inside my greenhouse, close to the back door, in a place that I can easily stroll in to. It makes the actual time out in the garden more relaxing because I’m not having to think so hard about where to plant. Then I begin to dream of spring in earnest.
Below are pdf files of my blank charts as they ended up looking this year. I’m sure you could do better and your garden is probably in different sizes, but if you want something easy to print, feel free:
(Below: pole bean trellis, in the far end of the garden, fell over in recent gust of wind after holding up to things all summer even though loaded with verdant vines, but NOW I know where I want to have it moved for this year)