Garden Tracker Spreadsheet

 Those who know me well know that there's nothing I won't use a spreadsheet for. My "Thanksgiving Spreadsheet" has become legendary. Although some might scoff at the idea, I would argue that you can't plan a meal like Thanksgiving for 20 people without  a solid spreadsheet. When I cut my finger while cleaning a (very sharp) Ulu knife the day before Thanksgiving one year and had to go to the ER and get stitches, the first thing I was asked by friends was, "How does this impact the spreadsheet?" (I too wondered this and agonized over whether or not to go to the ER...THAT's how serious I am about planning little thing shifts and you may end up with Thanksgiving on a Saturday.)

So naturally, you might be wondering, "Does a garden need a spreadsheet?" Yes. Yes, my friends, it does. I don't go overboard with the spreadsheet though.

I mainly use a garden spreadsheet to track:

  • what I'm planting
  • source of the seeds/seedlings
  • whether I planted indoors or direct sowed in the garden
  • planting dates
  • germination dates
  • expected and actual harvest dates
  • general notes/comments about performance

It helps me see at a glance what to expect during the season and things to reflect on for next season. For me right now, as a relatively new gardener, I'm looking for patterns and trends to what I'm doing. I plant things each year I've never grown before, so it's important for me to start tracking what I'm doing and see what's working and what's not so I can make better decisions each year. So far....I'm still new and, quite frankly stubborn, so I keep trying things even when they didn't work before. Peppers are like this - I'm a miserable failure at peppers (although my harbeneros were ok), but I'm going to try ancho chile peppers again this year. Maybe THIS will be the year my stuffed poblanos will be made from my own home-grown peppers.

Check out my post about planning your garden from last spring.

As you'll see from my 2015 Garden Spreadsheet, I started many things by purchasing seedlings.

I highly recommend for those of you who aren't sure you want to start seeds indoors or not that purchasing seedlings from your nursery or local garden club sale is a great way to get started.

I still plan on buying a few things at the Maplewood Garden Club sale this year. But, as each year in the garden passes, the more I want to grow things from seed. This year, I will be growing seedlings indoors and plan to have a plant sale in May....stay tuned for that if you're local.

The type of spreadsheet I'm currently using is one I created to be more of a "log." Here's my start of my 2016 Garden Tracker Spreadsheet. I added a couple of columns to it...can't say that will be where my edits end...

In any case, I'm really excited for this coming year. I just placed my seed order and will be getting the seeds going in the next 3-4 weeks. Now, if only the snow would completely melt...

When you're ready to start prepping, be sure to check out my prior post, Planning Your Garden.

How do you start gardening season? Would love to hear what you do.

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine