The holidays are over. We are not hitting the stores wide open like we were for the post-holiday sales, thanks to COVID-19. So, that leaves us with plenty of time on our hands. What should we do? Why not do the one thing we always say we will, but never have time to do? Plan our gardening season- right down to the week. Lots of planning now will reduce the chaos later, and if things get back to normal, you will be so glad you did. If you are new to gardening, there are a few things you need to know before you begin.
*1 What agricultural zone do you live in?
This will help you decide what and when to plant certain things. You can find this information on the USDA website.
*2 Am I going to start my garden from seedling plugs that are purchased from my local garden center? Or, am I going to start the plants from seed myself?
Determining this will determine when you should start your seed indoors or plant your seedlings in the ground.
From here even seasoned gardeners will have to make some crucial decisions. First, where am I going to put my garden? A lot of people use raised beds these days and they are great. They provide you with the ability to add and delete soil so you can keep healthy compost worked in your soil seasonally. These types of gardens also make it easier to weed and tend to your garden beds. You also may want to consider your own personality. Are you a nurturer or are you surprised your kids and dog have made it this far? If you are the latter, you may want to make sure your garden beds are incorporated somewhere close to your usual path. where you have to look at it every single day. This way you can not ignore it. You’re sure to notice if your plants are laying on the ground heading toward the light of plant heaven and praying they have water there. Or, if you are the type who loves to water and piddle and is content with watching your plants grow as you ponder the meaning of life, then you will probably be safe putting your garden beds just about anywhere. Last, but not least. If you live in a rented space and digging anywhere is strictly prohibited, then it will be a container garden for you!
Now you need to think about whether or not you’re digging new beds or assembling new raised beds or buying new pots. Or, maybe you are using the same from last year. Either way, you will want to use the best soil you possibly can. If it’s all-new, your raised beds and pots will need to be filled with soil. This can be an expensive job. If you are trying to save money you can use some of the native soil that you have dug up yourself, minus the grass and weeds of course. However, this soil will need to be amended with some compost or soil conditioner. If you are using soil from last year, you will want to take at least half of it out and replace it with new. I would dump the old back into the compost pile. In your pots, I advise you to dump all the old and fill it with new dirt and compost. Again, dump the old back into the compost.
There are plenty of apps out there that can help you with this. I personally prefer to sit down and put pencil to paper and figure it out. I suppose it depends on your fondness for technology or your distaste for it.
You can also find a plethora of information on what to plant when. If you are going by a printable chart be sure that it is suitable for your zone. If you prefer to make one of your own, you may want to talk to some old gardeners about the dates of the last frost and how they have been doing it for years and write the information in a gardening journal.
No matter the technique, find your own way, and MAKE A PLAN!
Click here for a free printable planning guide. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/show_ep3_pdf/1610114777/23265.