My initial frustration

One of the most frustrating challenges of gardening is translating the sowing times that you find on the back of seed packets into a effective and efficient plan for what to actually plant when, to get the best yield and the most varied and tasty diet.

The way seed companies present their information is to typically give you will a wide range of possible varieties, dates and harvest periods and then to leave it up to you to decide from the infinite number of permutations and combinations. Over my years of gardening I've become increasing dissatisfied by the resulting complexity and often poor results.

There have been two main responses to the challenge:

  1. Derive one or two sowing dates that guarantee a good harvest and preserve/freeze/sell the resulting surplus
  2. Encourage gardeners to sow little and often

The first option really doesn't work for anyone who wants to be self-sufficient and doesn't provide enough guidance on how to be successful. The second option is a lot of work and doesn't take into consideration the different growing rates and yields at different times of year.

So I think we need another way.

More details on the problem I'm trying to solve

Reality rapidly gets in the way of the way of the "plant anytime between March and September" approach to gardening for the following reasons:

  1. Seeds sown in March take a lot longer to get to harvest time, than seeds sown in May. Often seeds sown in May mature only 2-3 weeks later than ones sown 8 weeks earlier for example
  2. Seeds sown early often yield much lower than ones sown later
  3. Seeds sown too early or too late, have a very short harvest period before they start to flower
  4. Different varieties of the same type of seed, can give radically different results depending on their sowing time
  5. It's often better to substitute seeds from different families that are optimised for different times of year, rather than try to find different varieties from within a family
  6. Some seeds keep much better than others, are easier to save or just cost less than others. if you are sowing many successions of seeds in small quantities, it's a lost cheaper to pick the right ones

Recently I've taken the first tentative steps towards a new way of simplifying this mess.