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Planning Your Organic Vegetable Garden With The GroOrganic Organic Vegetable Planner

3rd January 2011
Creative Commons License photo credit: La Flaf

GroOrganic is an online tool for designing and managing your organic vegetable plot.

To start planning your vegetables plot you begin by selecting your location which will in turn help to provide advice on your local weather, ensuring you don’t plant fragile plants when there is still a risk of frost or planting too late in the season that wintery weather kills off your vegetable plants before they actually produce a crop.

Once you have set your location you select the size of your vegetable plot and then the fun really begins. Using a simple “drag and drop” interface you can select the vegetables you would like to plant and place them onto your plan. Once inserted, you can increase or decrease the area covered by certain plants until you’re happy with your overall design.

Of course so far none of this is particularly exciting – after all you could just as easily use a pen and paper to plot out roughly what you want in your vegetable garden.

But the GroOrganic vegetable planner has a number of handy tools you can use after you have created your basic design that are really where the strength of this tool lie.

Vegetable Planting Calendar

Tomato

Image via Wikipedia

Once your vegetable garden has been planned a handy tool provides guidance on what to do when in your garden. An intuitive interface clearly displays a list of all the vegetables you want to grow down the left-hand side of the page with the months across the top. Coloured lines show exactly when each vegetable plant should be sown and when cropping should occur providing you with an “at a glance” calendar of what you should be doing when in your garden.

As if this tool wasn’t helpful enough it is also possible with the GroOrganic tool to set up email reminders so that you’re automatically informed on a regular basis of what you should be doing in your garden and this helps to avoid that nasty situation many of us have been in when we realize we’ve been so busy we’ve missed the optimal planting time for a certain fruit or vegetable we’ve been meaning to grow.

Vegetable Spacing Guidance

Different vegetable and fruit plants need to have different amounts of space between them and these spacing guidelines are given automatically by the tool once you have finished your garden design. For example the tool will look at the patch of cabbages you have planned and not only tell you how much space to leave between plants but will also tell you as a result how many plants in total you will be able to accommodate in your garden. In this way you can ensure maximum yields with the minimum of waste when it comes to sowing seeds.

Vegetable Growing Advice

Click on any vegetable you’re interested in growing and you’ll find an “at a glance” guide to it’s requirements from the plants dimensions to it’s ideal growing conditions and more to increase your chances of success with each variety you try.

Automatic Crop Rotation

A key concept in organic food production is regular rotation of crops to ensure that pests in the soil do not build up to unacceptable levels. Using tried and tested rotation principles the GroOrganic tool will provide a “revised” plan for the following year to ensure you plant your new vegetable plants in the most suitable place to make the most of the many benefits of crop rotation.

Helpful Record-Keeping Facility

Record-keeping can be essential to a smoothly-running and highly productive organic vegetable plot. You will no doubt find that some plants grow well whilst others struggle. You’ll find you prefer the taste of certain varieties or that others are more likely to suffer pest damage. And these are all the sorts of information which is rarely remembered from one year to the next and yet can make growing vegetables at home that little bit easier and more efficient.

In light of this the GroOrganic tool allows you to keep detailed notes in your plan for future reference.

Conclusion

When I first tested out the GroOrganic vegetable planner I have to admit that I thought it was a bit of a novelty. Rather fun but with very little real application. Furthermore it is designed in Flash which means that it can be a little slow on older browsers (I got better results with Firefox than Internet Explorer) and it’s not free either.

However having spent quite some time getting to know the tool I now think it really offers some significant benefits to those interested in growing fruit and vegetables at home – especially if you lead a busy life and therefore appreciate all the time-saving aspects of the tool.

Is it essential? Far from it. You can get almost all the same benefits by planning your garden the “old fashioned” way with a pen and paper, using books and calendars for information. But it will be a handy tool for some people.

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