I love making charts! When I am having a hard time making a decision I always go to Excel and make a spreadsheet...I just love spreadsheets to help me organize my life! But before I could make a spreadsheet I had to figure out what was important to have on the spreadsheet.
It came down to a huge spreadsheet, but for those who are not very fond of large spreadsheets I will break it down to the 3 main points:
1: Companion Planting: Once again I recommend "The Vegetable Gardeners Bible". I got alot of my information from this book...and it has great pictures with excellent step by step instructions for us beginners! Another resource for companion planting is companion planting.net, they have a great chart for what plants work well together. This is really important if you are wanting to garden organically because it helps balance your garden and keep the environment undesirable to the bad bugs.
2: Planting Schedule: Another resource I used for trying to figure out when to plant what was from Heirloom Seeds (where I bought all my seeds this year). They have good charts (which I love) for Spring Planting Schedules as well as Fall Planting Schedules. To use these charts you have to know when the first frost and last frost usually hits in your area. I printed out the charts and only highlighted the column that was relevant for my specific frost area...then it wasn't so overwhelming! Victory Seeds has a good chart for helping figure out when your first and last frost will hit. The chart is here and just click on your State and it breaks down your State into the major cities.
3: Crop Rotation: Unless you are able to add alot of new rich soil to your garden each year you should probably not plant your tomatoes in the exact same spot each year but move your garden around a little bit... but you need to make sure that your soil has enough nutrients for the particular plant you are putting there. Some plants strip different things from the soil while they put other things back into the soil so you want to make sure you rotate to get the best yields possible. I have no experience in crop rotation because this is our first year so the soil was pretty much good to go...but since I am wanting to do some fall planting I have been looking into what I need to plant where. The best resource I have found for that is once again "The Vegetable Gardeners Bible". He has a great list of what is good and bad to plant before and after each crop. Some other good online resources are The Yankee Gardener, as well as this nice diagram on Crop Rotation for your Vegetable Garden.
There are a ton of different methods and techniques to use for organic gardening, but these are the 3 that I have focused on and will try to add more as I go.
Fall planting is here and going quickly so start getting a plan and your seeds ready as well as the ground prepared and your fall crops will be productive...hopefully :)
Happy Planting :)