How to plan a pollinator friendly garden

A step by step guide to planning the perfect pollinator friendly organic garden!

Map out your garden space.

The first step will be to see what areas you have available for planting. You will want to draw out a map of your entire yard, and where each garden bed will go. Map out which garden beds get full sun, and any shady spots.

Now you can see how much space you have available for plants.

Try to place your gardens close to a water source, and as close to your house as possible.

If you have space add some garden beds just for pollinators!

Write a list of plants.

Next you will write out a list of all the plants you want to grow.

It helps to separate your list of plants by planting season. Cold crops go in the garden first and are often replaced later with hot crops. So you can pick a spring and a summer crop to grow in the same place.

Sort which plants are direct sow, and which plants will be transplants. Write down how many hours of sun each plants needs.

Add pollinator friendly plants to your list.

Be sure to include some areas of your garden that you plant just for our pollinator friends.

You can plant whole garden beds, or just mix in flowers and other pollinator friendly plants in-between your vegetables. I do both.

Adding plants that butterflies, bees, and birds enjoy as food helps attract them to our garden, where they will eat pests, and pollinate our crops for us!

Find plants native to the area where you live, my favorite resource for this is Homegrown National Park. This website also has garden plot ideas, and many more resources to learn how to help our pollinators. I am going to register my garden on their map this year. Check it out!

Place plants on your garden map.

Now add each plant from your list, to a garden bed on your map. Cross them off your master plant list as you go, until all of your plants have a space in the garden. Sometimes I write each plant on a sticky note and move those around until I have the final layout that I like.

Be sure to put plants that require full sun in the full sun parts of your garden, and plants that require shade in the shade.

If you are going to plant a cold crop (like spinach in the very early spring), and replace it later with a hot crop, be sure to add both plants to the same garden bed on your map.

Early draft of my 2023 Garden Plan (it’s changed a lot since this!) My sticky note chaos garden page for 2023 garden!

Create your planting schedule.

Determine your last frost date, first frost date, and number of days in your growing season. You can go to the Farmers Almanac Website, and put your zip code in to see yours.

Next grab a planner or a calendar, and write in your last and first frost dates. Going back one week from your last frost date, write in “1 week until last frost”, go back another week and write “2 weeks till last frost” and so on until at least 12 weeks before last frost date.

Week by Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook

I bought a book a few years ago that has an outline of the entire season, and you just fill in your dates. It has space to journal for 3 years too! It’s called the Week by Week Vegetable Gardeners Handbook by Ron and Jennifer Kujawski, I really like it and highly recommend!

https://bookshop.org/p/books/week-by-week-vegetable-gardener-s-handbook-perfectly-timed-gardening-for-your-most-bountiful-harvest-ever-jennifer-kujawski/12611326 https://bookshop.org/p/books/week-by-week-vegetable-gardener-s-handbook-perfectly-timed-gardening-for-your-most-bountiful-harvest-ever-jennifer-kujawski/12611326

Sort plants by start and plant date.

If you are starting seeds, you can look on the back of your seed packets and see what the recommended start date is. Or look in the seed catalog or online if you haven’t bought seeds yet.

Sort your seeds into groups by their start date. So all the seeds that need to be started 6 weeks before last frost will go together, and so on.

Now you can go into your planner, and go to week 12 before last frost, write in all the seeds that need to be started 12 weeks before last frost. Repeat this for each group of seeds by week.

Next add the dates that you will plant the baby plants out into your garden.

Now you will have a nice planner, with a list of seeds and transplants to plant each week!

Planting by the moon.

A few years ago I read about planting by the moon. At first this might sound weird, but it is just a calendar for planting based on the idea that just in the same way the moon impacts the tides, it impacts plants.

It divides the moon cycle into two sections. The waxing and the waning.

You plant above ground crops during the waxing phase (from the new moon to the full moon), because during this time the moon is growing bigger and the gravitational pull of the moon is getting stronger (I imagine the moon is pulling the plants up to help them grow).

During the waning phase, from the full moon until the new moon, you plant root crops, like carrots, because during this phase the moons energy is getting smaller and the earths energy is pulling down (so imagine the earth is pulling the roots of the carrot down deeper into the earth).

Bio-dynamic gardening by the moon calendar

If you want to take it another step further, check out this bio-dynamic planting by the moon calendar .

I have been using this method for years, and it has worked great for me!

This calendar breaks the moon cycle down into four phases, the same above ground and below ground cycles above, but it also adds a barren phase of days from the last quarter moon to the new moon.

This calendar is my favorite because it will tell you which days are “flower” days, “fruit” days, “leaf” days, and “root” days, so I can plan to plant my spinach, a crop I harvest for it’s leafy greens, on a leaf day. I can plant my chamomile, a medicinal herb I harvest for it’s flowers, on a flower day.

I know these methods sound far out, but they have been practiced by farmers across the world for thousands of years with tons of evidence to support better yields!

Start a garden journal

From here on out, just follow your plan. Keep a notebook to journal important things you notice in your garden throughout the season to help you plan next years garden. Write down when your actual last and first frost dates were each year.

Write down when plants flower, when things are ready to harvest, what insects or pests you notice. All of these notes will help you improve your garden each year.

I also like to take pictures of my garden throughout the year with date stamps. This way in the winter when I am trying to remember exactly when the roses were blooming, or the tomatoes were ready to be harvested, I can look back at the date on the picture. This helps me plan other activities that are part of the garden. Like when I’ll need extra time to can, dehydrate, and freeze the abundance of organic food!

A note on garden supplies and OMRI.

Please avoid buying anything for your lawn or garden that is not OMRI certified, which means it’s approved for use on organic farms.

I have taken this a step further, and I use absolutely NO fertilizers, pesticides, sprays or anything in my garden. I have found you don’t need to with pollinator friendly gardening and no till gardening.

By caring for the soil, and creating a community of beneficial soil bacteria, insects, and birds, nature takes care of these needs. There is no need to spray for pests when a beneficial insect will come and eat the pest as it’s dinner. I don’t need to add fertilizer to my soil because we add things like nitrogen into the soil by planting beans. Or we add organic compost and worm castings.

Treating your lawn with dangerous chemicals will harm the pollinators in your garden too. These chemicals kill bees and birds. So I recommend taking a full organic approach to your entire home and not treating your lawn with any fertilizer, weed killer, or pesticides. These lawn treatments are dangerous for pets like dogs who can absorb the chemicals through the pads of their paws. Another reason to make your home 100% organic and non-toxic!

Thank you for reading! Check back soon for all of my favorite places to buy seeds and supplies, and how to start a no till garden, coming soon!If you have any questions, comments, or ideas for other posts, please let me know below or on the contact page! – jess from earth

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