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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thrifty Gardening Tips Part Six: Making a List

Here is Part Six of The Home Garden's series of posts on how to garden on a budget.

I began planning this post with the intention of talking about the importance of planning a garden. After typing and typing I realized that this is a subject so large that it really needed to be broken down into smaller sections. One of the first things I like to do to plan out my projects, gardens and plantings is to make a list! Just consider this Dave's take on garden list making or even Garden List Making 101!

Why make a list? For me it helps me to organize my thoughts and ideas. I can start as broad as I want to and write down everything I can think of or be fairly narrow and specific.

How does making a list save you money? First think of the different kinds of lists you can make that are related to your garden and you will see how they can be used to organize your garden budget.



The List of Plants I Want
This is a fun list to make. I just go through the garden catalogs either the physical ones that come through the mail or online and select anything I might want in my garden in the future. Then I can easily break the list down into smaller chunks based on plant type, color or garden location. Then when I see the plant at a discount, on sale, or at a plant swap (there's a Thrifty Gardening Tip for another time!) I can pick it up at that reduced rate.

The List of Plants I Have
This could be a very helpful list to prevent buying the same plant again. Of course you may want that same plant again and this list will ensure that you can find and match the same name. Or you could just buy one and propagate the rest (you can bet that topic will be a future tip)! I recommend writing down the botanical name and the cultivar name on the list. The botanical name is by far more important since often there can be several variety names.

The What Worked and What Didn't List
Gardeners experiment with new plants often, it's just a gardening fact of life! Keep track of those plants that did well and you can use them again but also keep track of those that failed or did poorly so that you will remember and can prevent history from repeating itself!

The List of Gardens and Plants
This list has all of the plants from each garden area in the yard. If you find a compatible plant that would work well in that garden you can add it to your collection. It is also helpful if you notate the amount of sun and shade that the garden gets.

The Future Project List
I made a short project list just the other day. This list not only helps to stay organized but can aid in mapping out the cost of the projects. Once you know the project cost then you can fit it into your budget.

The Consolidated List
The first four lists could easily be consolidated into one great big garden list perfect for your garden notebook. Just take the elements you feel are important and write them down in a spreadsheet type format (or use the spreadsheet program on your computer).

Here's an example of a list I might put together for my Birdbath Garden.

Botantical
Name
Common NameNumberSun/ShadeGardenSuccess?
BuddlejaButterfly Bush1Full
Sun
Bird
Bath
Very
Good
Coreopsis
'Sunfire'
Tickseed3Full
Sun
Bird
Bath
Very
Good
Salvia
Nemorosa

'Caradonna'
Salvia5Full
Sun
Bird
Bath
Very
Good
Echinacea
'Sunset'
Coneflower2Full
Sun
Bird
Bath
One
Very Good,
One
Getting By

I could have added many more categories for the table but this might be a good way to chart the success of certain plants in different parts of the garden. If I were to use a spreadsheet I would be able to sort each category, which would be a major advantage!

By making lists you enable yourself to have the best information of what your garden is, what it wasn't, and what it will be. If you follow your lists, you will save money. But making lists will only work if you stick to it. That doesn't mean that you can't spontaneously buy a new plant every now and then, but the lists could aid you in the decision process.

For more tips on how to garden on a budget visit these other Thrifty Gardening Tip posts!

Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 1: Buying and Saving Discount Discount Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 1 Follow Up: Buying and Saving Discount Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 2: The Generosity of Gardeners
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 3: Save Gas, Only Mow Where You Go
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 4: Think Small Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 5: Make Compost

11 comments :

  1. I am just getting my gardens going again after moving to a new house. I was afraid I was going to forget some of the plants I had always loved and wanted. So I ask a fellow gardener to make a list for me and I will add to it. If we don't have list, we feel disorganized. Great Post.

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  2. Great post Dave. I make lists too, but the spreadsheet is a great idea.

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  3. Great ideas! And another reason I need a PDA - to keep all my lists straight and always with me.

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  4. Lists are good. I have TONS of them. But all I could think of with your title was, "He's checking it twice.." Ah, too soon for Santa!

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  5. Anna,

    Moving your garden to your new house must be a huge undertaking. Starting all over. Have you been able to transplant your favorites?

    Thanks PG!

    I need to add a bunch of things to our spreadsheets. That is a very good winter time gardening chore!

    Cindy,

    Using a PDA would be pretty cool in the garden. I'd be worried about damaging it but it would help keep your spreadsheets all in one place and with you!

    Tina,

    I almost said that!

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  6. I see a plant I like and have to think back, now did I try that one in the past or not... A list would really asset me in that department!

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  8. I dont have a list of all my plants, I'm just not that organised. However, I have been keeping a record of seeds that I have sown and how successful they have been - this way I will know the ones I dont want to grow again or alternatively have a clue as to why they didnt germinate etc.

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  9. Oh how I wish this worked for me. It's too involved for me..I feel that it takes away from the time I have for the garden..actually in it I mean. I do take pics.and I have a notebook where I jot down ideas, and notes when something doesn't work..but usually I just take winter to prepare and plan. Though I think i will attempt to use your list idea as it might keep me working on one thing before going onto another and being less overwhelmed. You're so danged organized Dave..stop it..LOL

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  10. Dave, what a great idea with the list. I need to start doing that as I have bought a repeat not remembering if I had purchased it or not. I also like the idea of making a map of your garden so you know where all things are. I drew a rough draft of my whole yard-front & back--to send to relative for advice. It sure helps. Must make a new one as things have changed in my yard/garden.

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  11. Dave, what would I do if I didn't get your blog in my mailbox each day - chaos I think. This is a great idea. I'm starting my list tomorrow.

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Dave

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