I know there’s snow in most places but spring will be here before you know it. And if you wait until spring is here to start planning your spring garden, you’re not going to enjoy spring very much. I know, I’ve been there.
Without some preparation you will spend more money and harvest fewer vegetables than if you spend an afternoon now to plan your vegetable garden.
I try to grow enough of each item to last our family for a year. We eat some fresh and we preserve some. I have some planning worksheets that I use that are great help to know how many plants of each variety I need to grow. You can get these worked emailed to you by filling out the form below.
1. Think about what your growing year looks like and embrace it. This is really important even though it’s not really fun. We all want to think that we can plant seeds or transplants in March or April and harvest vegetables until September or October. But that’s just not reality for most of us.
For instance, I live in Zone 9 along the Texas Gulf Coast which means I can start planting our spring garden in late February and early March. I know that sounds early but we still only have about 4 months of growing. By the time late July gets here, it will be too hot to grow anything but peppers and okra. Which means, if I want to get the most out of those 4 growing months I need make sure I plant early in the planting season not later in the season.
2. Decide what you really want to plant. This is a great time to talk with your family about what fruits and veggies they like and would want to grow. Don’t plant things no one in your family likes, it will only lead to frustration. Dream a little and make a list.
Maybe you won’t be able to plant EVERYTHING but you’ll get more planted with a list than without one. And it will help you stay on track when you see all those, oh so tempting, seed packets and fruit trees at the store. I like to keep notes on what we liked and what we didn’t in my gardening notebook.
3. Order seed catalogs and seeds. If you’re going to grow your plants from seeds, you need seeds. One of my favorite places to get seeds is MiGardener. All of their seeds are heirloom seeds and most are just $2 a packet. If you use my link you’ll also get a 10% discount on your entire order.
If you’re going to get your seeds from your local stores, be sure to take your list with you. Those seed packets can be pretty enticing. Here are some tips for deciphering all the information on the seed packets. How to read a seed packet.
4. Figure out when you need to plant each plant. If all you do is spend one weekend putting in seeds and transplants, you’ll never have the garden you want. You need to plant when it’s good for the plants not just when it’s convenient for you.
Garden.org has a great app and all you need to do is put in your city and state and it will generate a planting strategy for you. This is a great starting place you can tweak it each year based on what you’ve learned about your own growing climate. If need help understanding your growing climate I have a short ecourse to help you out.
5. Decide if you are going to sow seeds or plant transplants. There’s not a right or wrong decision but you need to decide. If you’re going to use seeds you need to decide if you need to start them early inside or if you can just sow them directly in the ground. This will depend on the plant but it also depends on how long your growing season is.
6. If you don’t already have a garden spot, pick one. For most vegetables you need will need a spot that gets full sun – which is at least 6 hours of direct sun light.
7. If you don’t have frozen ground you can start preparing your garden beds. Maybe you didn’t do such a good job of cleaning them out after last summer’s garden, now is a good time. Or maybe you want to make raised beds, now is the time you can do that, too. If you start now, or as soon as the ground thaws out, you won’t have to rush when it’s time to plant.
Let me say this too, the most important aspect of your garden is the soil. You need good soil. .
If you have very limited funds spend it on building healthy soil and buy seeds instead of plants.
8. If you don’t have a compost bin, you should start one. You can start getting leaves from your neighbors and used coffee grounds from Starbucks and you’ll have free compost before you know it.
What are you doing to get ready for the spring gardening season?