Excel as a garden planner?
For those who utilize square foot gardening of any sort, excel can become an essential and easy tool to design, manage and track your garden. Square foot gardening is divided into equal squares, excel is a bunch of squares. Excel allows all sorts of cool things to be done with those squares. Any spreadsheet program will do, however i use MS Excel.
Everything is “boxed” – The beds are boxed, the individual squares are boxed, trellises are even boxed, so what has lots of boxes? excel. Boxes will define your planting bed, and boxes within that box will define the square feet in which you will plant.
To make life easier, simply re-size your excel columns to make individual cells somewhat square. Each cell will now represent one square foot, simple enough. Bed sizes differ in size and layout – easiest ones are simple rectangles whose sides are determined by lumber sizes; 4′, 8’and 2′ in most cases. So a 4′ x 8′ bed would be represented in excel by selecting 8 columns by 4 rows (switch depending on layout), then make a thick border around the bed.
Now every square inside the box represents a plant able square.
Don’t be frightens and confused, there is a pretty detailed video tutorial I have done as well as a finished excel garden planner available – the link is on the side.
Now, we have set rules for planting in square foot gardens – namely the plants per square. I choose beets which come in at 9 plants per square foot. This is what they call a multiplier (9). What we want to know is approximately how many seeds/plants we want, so we have a multiplier however we still need to count the squares which have beets.
Time to pick a super secret beet code word – how about beets. We simply type beets (or your code for beets) into each square (cell) that you plan on planting beets in. Now math…
Counting is what excel … well excels at, so now we want to count all those cells that have “beets” in them. There are various ways of counting however the excel COUNTIF function will keep a running count of all cells which contain a specified word like “beets”.
So we would simply make a function =COUNTIF(cells in your box, ‘beets’) and boom you now have a running total. Now if you lay out multiple boxes and plant beets all over the place, you simply have to make the range the size of your whole garden – to include all boxes. Then we multiply the running count by the number of plants per square and now you have a running total of seeds you need.
Then you can go crazy, or not and add things like trellises, a full planting schedule, estimated yields, subsequent planting times/dates, the possibilities.
The excel file I created (went a bit crazy) and its tutorial are available here. Enjoy!
Feel free to send me comments or questions.
Full Excel garden planner and tutorial
Northern Gardening articles (mybackyard.ca)
Northern Gardening articles (NW Ontario Outdoors – TOLS News)
Northern Ontario Outdoors Magazine
Gardening in NW Ontario Article
Making a square foot Garden Bed
Planting before the last frost article