How Much Planning Do You Need?

May 28 2009

I started reading a Kindle book on organic gardening. And I was immediately put off by 1) the repeated sermons on the evils of chemical pesticides (if I’ve bought the book, I probably don’t need to be sold on avoidance of chemicals), and 2) the insistence on planning. I quote:

The Essential Guide to Organic Gardening: …adequately allocate the proper space to your organic vegetable garden. The amount of space you decide to use for your organic vegetable garden must be sufficient, but not in excess; you do not want wasted space or wasted vegetables, because you grew too many.

On one hand, this makes sense. Don’t over- or under-produce, if you can help it.

On the other hand, how on Earth can the beginning gardener know what is “sufficient” or “excess?” Will the book attempt to tell me? What author can possibly tell me how many tomatoes I need?

Should one plan? Sure. But only approximately. Especially in a garden, where so little is under your control. Plan out your exact potato usage over the year, then watch half your potato crop fail.

Why can’t we just experiment? Approximate our needs and then go for it? It’s not like the average American homeowner is going to starve because their backyard organic garden produced insufficient quantities of cucumbers. And if you have too much, why can’t you give some away? I don’t think I’ve ever had trouble giving away food to co-workers and friends.

There are too many variables. Just grab a bit of land, dig in some good soil, plant a few seeds, and water it occasionally. This is my first year with a real vegetable garden, and I’ve got more lettuce than I can eat growing from a 2’x3′ plot.

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