By: Mel Lockcuff
January (and sometimes late December) is always the time we start to really pay attention to the gathering stack of seed catalogs that arrive in our mailbox. Though we may be in the dead of winter, there’s no better time to plan a garden and prep for gardening season. After all, it’ll be here before we know it!
This year is a little different, though, as our 14-year-old son has taken an avid interest in gardening and all things food. He’s begun to formulate a plan and even earned and used his own money to pay for the seeds he really wants to use. He has plans for a three sisters garden, plants for our chickens, and more. I’m ready to take a step back and just follow his lead.
You may be wondering… What are some things you should do to plan your own garden and prepare for warmer weather projects?
Gather seed catalogs and order seeds. A Farmer’s Almanac doesn’t hurt either; it gives all sorts of info about weather patterns, planting times, etc. Even if you’re not going to order seeds, looking through seed catalogs gives you opportunity to know what’s out there in the realm of possibilities for your garden. It’ll give you ideas for plants you want to grow. You may even find a few plants you hadn’t really thought about. For instance, I’d never even heard of Dragon Tongue beans ‘til we ordered seeds through Baker Creek. Now there’s no turning back. They are the most delicious green beans and my only requirement, besides tomatoes, for our garden this coming spring.
Not sure where to get a seed catalog? Here are a few resources, and most will send you a catalog free of charge.
You can find more seed resources in this full listing compiled by The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Formulate a plan for your garden. Decide where you want your garden to be and what you want to plant. Certain plants grow well together, and on the flip side, certain plants placed together can be detrimental to a garden. Mother Earth News provides an In-Depth Companion Planting Guide you may find helpful.
You also want to think about how much sun or shade, as well as how much moisture and drainage certain plants require. Then again, you’ll want to think about planting times… Which seeds will you need to plant early and which ones will be later? Will you need to start some indoors? Finally, how much of each plant do you want to grow? The Old Farmer’s Almanac provides a Vegetable Garden Planner you may find helpful.
When thinking about the space you have, it really helps to draw it out on graph paper or even a plain sheet of notebook paper. Visualizing what you want and need to do with the space you have is one of the most important steps to successful gardening.
These are all things to think about in your planning efforts.
Gather tools and supplies. Basic supplies and hand tools you’ll need include gardening gloves, a spade, a couple of hoes (you may want a couple different kinds for certain jobs), a rake, pruning shears, etc. If you have the finances available, you may want to purchase a tiller, depending how big a space you’re planning to use; if you’re growing a smaller space, a rotary cultivator may be all you need.
You’ll also need a water source like a garden hose, a soaker hose, and a sprinkler. A frost-free faucet is worth every penny.
When cleaning up a space, a wheelbarrow or a wagon is indispensable.
You’ll also want to think about supplies you’ll need for combatting pests, like squirrels, deer, insects, and more. And not just pests, you’ll also likely combat disease in plants at some point or another. Will you use pesticides and chemicals, or would you rather stay all natural in your gardening efforts? This is a big problem area of gardening and definitely worthy of adding to your plans so you’re prepared for the inevitable pests and disease to come.
Wishing You Much Success on Your Gardening Journey
Gardening is an adventure like no other. It’s a way of providing fresh foods for your family, and it’s a way of adding a certain beauty and charm to your home. I’d wager to say the gardener grows just as much as the garden in terms of knowledge, patience, and perseverance. When you’ve planned and prepared, you’re even more ready for whatever may come your way.
The above are just a few of the steps it takes to grow a garden. What steps would you add to the planning process?