Something which has always fascinated me is how people plan their garden spaces, and it's something I often ask on the podcast and get such a range of answers. From people who draw out their allotments entirely to scale in an architectural manner, to those who do not plan at all, I love to hear about it. Having worked in marketing for nearly 10 years where Excel spreadsheets are my chosen method for project management, it made sense to utilise these (not all that advanced) skills to create my allotment plan.
I did this the first year I had my allotment back in 2019 and it's the tried and tested method I use to plan all of my spaces now, from Mini Gardeners Club projects to the flower farm! I've had hundreds of questions about this over the years, so I thought I'd share with you my process in case you think it's something that could work for you.
P.s. I work on Google Sheets now because it's free, online and it saves every few seconds so there are no disasters if you forget to save!
The first thing I do is note down a list of everything I'd like to grow in 'Sheet 1', then I like to spend a good few weeks researching which varieties most take my fancy and working out where I'll buy my seeds from. I separate them into not-very-scientific categories by type, for example, all of the melons will go together, the tomatoes etc. add the variety, the supplier and the price plus a little tick box for when they've been ordered. The example featured in the workbook is my genuine shopping list from Plants of Distinction and @shegrowsveg's new homestead store for 2022 if you're wondering!
Then I create a second tab where I made all of the cells square to represent 1sqm. I do this by selecting the tabs labelled 1-20, holding down CMD (I use a Mac) and dragging them so that the height and width of the cells are the same. If you have trouble getting this setup, I'm no Sheets wizard so you might be better off duplicating my workbook. Then, I mark out where the boundary lies by colouring the cells brown - in my example, I've made the boundary cells smaller once again to kind of represent a fence. My allotment measures 18m x 10m. A little disclaimer here to say that this allotment plan is to scale-ish. Not all of my bordered and beds are 1m, neither are the buildings and other features on my plot so it's more of a rough estimate.
Once I've added in the main features of the garden/allotment I'll start to fill in the beds with the items from Sheet 1, colour coding them and playing around until I've managed to squeeze everything in.
Once the seed orders have arrived, I've started to separate them into sowing months that than plant categories because whilst I like to plant them out in groups, they don't always have the same sow date. Each month I can then go through and pick up a wedge of packets and get started.
On the years where I have too much free time, I then go one step further and create a third sheet in the style of a calendar, this is where I add dates for sowing indoors, sowing direct, planting out, flowering and harvesting (depending on whether it's for flowers or veg). This is probably the feature I use the least nowadays, especially as I only use the dates on the packets as a very rough guide, but as a newbie it really helped me get to grips with the rough timing for different veg - mainly when I could expect to be eating the fruits of my labour!
So, if you found that little chat helpful, you can find a workbook here which you can duplicate and use for your own planning. It's a combination of sheets from over the years so doesn't all correlate for 2023 (I opted to write this piece over updating my own plan for this year but keep an eye on the page and you'll see my final plans within the next few weeks). If you have any questions, I'm always happy to help if you drop me a DM @diaryofaladygardener.