As I have been working on my crop plan/ seed order this year I decided to up my spreadsheet game. I have always used a series of spreadsheets to make my crop plan but they were pretty basic, mainly just a series of lists that involved a lot of cutting and pasting. So I decided to finally take the time to be a little fancy by making pivot tables and having each of my various spreadsheets be connected so that if I change a value in one they all reflect that.
I use Google Sheets and I am no expert when it comes to formulas or manipulating cells but I think I got it figured out. I can enter the number of transplants I want to grow of one crop and the number of seeds I will need is calculated, which then will appear in my seed order spreadsheet. I use a series of four spreadsheets:
The first is how many 3” pot seedlings I would like to sell this year.
The second is the seed calculation to determine how many seeds I will need to grow those seedlings plus my field crops. I also increase the amount by 25% to cover seed germination rates, human error, crop failure, etc.
The third is the actual seed order with each crop broken down by variety, amount to order, cost, and seed source.
The fourth is the planting schedule which is organized by the date that seed needs to be started in the greenhouse and when crops should be ready to transplant.
To figure out my seed order and what I actually need to buy this year, I have to do a seed inventory to see what viable seed I have left over from years past. Since seed has a life span I like to use what I have first before buying more seed. Having my trusty seed inventory list gives me the strength to only order what I need for this season, preventing me from being wasteful. It is so easy to over buy when the photos and crop descriptions are all so alluring.
Once I know what seed I actually need I start typing out my seed order. I find it easier to flip through paper catalogs while organizing my order in a spreadsheet. Based on my seed inventory (what I currently have) and my seed calculations for this season (how much seed I need, to yield the amount of plants or pounds of produce for 2021) my seed order this year is not huge. Because I have surplus seed from years past and I have been storing them in good conditions (dry and out of direct sunlight), I only needed to order about half of the seed I will need to grow on my half acre field and produce over 1,000 seedlings to sell.
Like many people this year, placing my seed order was not as easy as it normally is. Seed companies big and small have been flooded with orders since the pandemic began. So that means that many companies are limiting how many orders they accept each day and many seed varieties are already sold out. With most of my crops I’m pretty flexible about what varieties I grow as long as the seed is certified organic. So when some of my favorite varieties were not available through the companies I order with (High Mowing, Johnny’s, SESE) I just decided to give a new variety a try. But then there are the varieties I can’t live without. This year as I placed my orders the beautiful heirloom hot pepper fish was sold out. I searched through all the seed companies I have ever ordered from and still no luck. So this led me to order from a new company, Restoration Seeds. They carry some other varieties I have never heard of so I ordered a few packets to try those out this year too.
So all the seeds I will need for 2021 have been purchased but don’t worry if you have not gotten your order in yet, you still have time before spring is here. Most seed companies still have plenty of seed; they just might not have the exact variety you were planning to grow. If you have never started plants from seed and want to give it a try this year I recommend beginners focus on large seeded crops like peas, swiss chard, beans, sunflowers, etc. The larger the seed the less likely it is to rot and the easier it is to handle. Seeds are amazing, I encourage everyone to grow something from seed this year but remember that seeds are a precious resource not to be hoarded or wasted.