It might be hard to think about gardening when the wind is blistering and the snow is blowing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t! The cold weather is the perfect time for planning for the spring!
If your anything like I used to be, you’re probably thinking you can just grab a few packs of seeds from the local store, put them in the ground and hope for the best, but if you want your garden to be successful, and reap rewards in the early months of the year you need to do a little planning (Click to Tweet). Here’s how…
In the fall before it freezes:
- Remove and discard the dead parts of plants, but don’t stick them into the compost. This will cause weeds to sprout up wherever you use the compost in the future.
- Put Mulch eight inches deep over any plants that might not handle the cold very well, including over-wintering vegetables such as carrots, so they will be alive still in the spring.
- Make sure all your garden beds are composted or mulched.
- Clean up, maintain and store your garden tools and equipment properly. Make note of any tools that might need to be replaced. If any of these tool need repairs, take them in to be fixed.
- Order seed catalogs. There are multiple good catalogs from different companies so go ahead and order a few! Here’s a hint! If you want to save the seeds from the plants to grow new plants in the future, you will want to buy heirloom varieties.
- Decide if you want to use cold frames or another technique to lengthen your growing season. If so, be sure to plan and build accordingly.
- Start by diagramming and planning what you want where. Once you have a general plan with your vegetable garden, herb garden, annuals, perennials, bushes and trees planned out, it’s time to start getting more specific.
- Be sure to check the viability and test germination of any seeds you have on hand.
- When you’re planning, start with the plants that take the longest to mature and will be there the longest – the trees! Next add the bushes, then the perennials including any herbs, then the annuals including the vegetables and lastly any potted plants.
- Ask yourself these questions for the trees, bushes, perennials and annuals:
- Do you want to plant any new ones?
- What kinds?
- How will planting these affect the plants you’ll be putting nearby? If you are planting a tree that gets really wide, you won’t want to plant bushes or anything long-lasting near it, but annual flowers would be great and provide a nice pop of colour!
- Are there any other plants that cannot coexist with these plants?
- What plants do really well around these plants?
- Where do you want them in on your land? You may realize that you might want your vegetable garden near the driveway, but you might want to put some bushes between your garden and your teenage driver.
- Now the fun part! Start picking out what you want!
Here’s some additional guidance on picking plants:
- 1 Decide what you are looking for and why. I like the unusual varieties of common plants, but you might appreciate your traditional plants as well.
- Don’t forget to check which grow zone you live in. Your country, province or state extension service might have more detailed information available, or ask at your local nursery to get the best information.
- Think about what you’ll actually use and eat. There are really no reason buying eight rosemary plants, if you don’t like using rosemary in your cooking.
Here are some steps to take mid-winter:
- Look at the weather: is it an unusually cold or snowy winter? Or is it mild? If it’s not overly cold or snow, then you probably don’t need to do anything extra to your plants. But if it is really cold or snowy then you might want to protect your plants better.
- Take advantage of the increased visibility due to the plants dying or being dormant and take a good look at your garden. Are there any areas of erosion? If so, you can make a project for the spring and begin to research and plan on how to best fix it.
- Can you see roots damaging any walls, foundations, pathways or anything else? In the spring have a professional take care of any problematic roots. Do you research now to find a good service and ask for referrals from friends and neighbours?
- Look at where the snow and ice melt first and where does it last? This will give you an idea of what spots naturally receive more sunlight.
- It is finally time to start planting – even with the ground frozen rock-hard! Start your early season plants indoors. In four to six weeks, you can put them in the ground and start the next group of plants inside. A grow zone map can help you determine what to plant and when, as the weather begins to warm up.
I hope these tips help you get excited for your garden for next summer and you’ll have a great growing season! Enjoy the planning and the planting!