Spring Garden Planning — Do It Now for Success!

Garden Planning will make you a more successful gardener. Now is the time to start planning for your spring garden. The steps you take now can make a significant difference in your success next year.

Garden Vegetables

Many of the varieties you see in the photo above will not be harvested in the latter part of spring. There are many varieties that you can sow early and transplant in early spring depending on your zone of course. There are cold-tolerant varieties of lettuces, cabbage, kale, brassicas and the like that will do well before the last front of spring.

You can also employ a frost cover to assist in getting an early start. Here at FiveDollarFarm, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, we use a frost cover and remove it in the morning being careful to recover before nightfall. These techniques can help to extend you growing season by using what is called the “shoulder seasons.” An added three weeks on each end of the growing season can make a big difference in your ability to have fresh vegetables throughout the year.

Seed Selection and Garden Planning

The major seed companies have already begun to send their catalogs for the 2021 growing season. Yours may have found it’s way to your mailbox. You will be able to get an early jump on which varieties you want to grow. You will also be able to select new varieties and trial them. It’s always a good idea to keep a record of how each selection performed and in what condition it will do best. Here we have quickly learned what works in our environment. You can find a good catalog at Johnny’s Selected Seeds. You can also save seeds from previous years. Check out our resource for saving you seeds.

If you are unsure or seem overwhelmed with the myriad choices, try keeping it simple. Ask yourself what you like to eat from your garden. Or limit yourself to a specific number of items. This suggestion worked best for us because we usually want to grow everything. When focused on twelve to fifteen varieties, our success improved greatly. We did not overextend our time and knowledge so we were more successful. As we became “expert” at one variety, we could move onto experimenting and expanding to different selections.

Bed Preparation

View of garden beds.
Expanding to more growing beds

Growing in new beds will require more preparation than an existing bed. We will have another post concerning making new areas to grow in. An existing bed will need some but not too much preparation for the coming year. As you may or may not know we have done away tilling and fully embraced “no dig.” We simply cover an area with light blocking material. Then we put down hay or cardboard, and top it off with well-composted manure. That’s about it. This method has made weeding particularly easy.

We also use woodchips in our walkways between the beds. If you plan on doing something similar, now is a good time to try and find a source that can supply what you estimate you will use. The same goes for your compost source. We also have information on creating your own compost.

Irrigation

If depending on the size of your garden you may need to expand or upgrade your irrigation system, now is the time to determine what you will need. You may not be able to install any irrigation equipment in the winter if you are in a cold, frozen climate, but you can purchase what you need now. Many times you can obtain a discount at years end or when demand is low. If you wait until everyone else is ordering, you may run into supply problems. Just something to think about and plan ahead for.

A major overhaul of our irrigation setup is happening due to expanding our garden. We have laid the major part of the infrastructure by trenching approximately 700 feet of main water line from our well. All we need to do is order the row drip lines and connectors which we will be doing this week. We get our irrigation supplies at Drip Depot.

In summary, now is the time to think about what you want to accomplish in your garden next year. You may find yourself too busy when the main season is upon us to get all the materials you need. For me, having a mental picture of my desired end results is the best way to succeed. That requires seeing and planning for that result.

Best of Luck!

John

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