It’s Time to Think about Gardening Again!

I can’t remember a winter that has seemed longer, and more depressing in general. However, it is now officially March, which means that even though it won’t be warm and wonderful for at least another month or two, it is now permissible to reasonably expect that gardening season will return, and one must be prepared. And even though I’ve been gardening for almost 30 years, I still have to remind myself of everything that must be done. So here is my list of things to do to prepare for garden season.

1. Start by making a list of your overall goals for this growing season. Do you want to add fruit trees? Try new varieties? Find new flowers? Landscape a new area of your yard? Get chickens? Reduce your maintenance? My lists shrink as I run out of space, but I definitely want to try new varieties of vegetables (field peas and okra!), add a few more fruit trees to my new orchard (I was thinking quince and pawpaw), and perhaps tackle and try to civilize an area near my side porch that would make a nice woodland garden. So, as you can see, gardening for me is about the whole landscape, not just veggies. And I’m still looking for basket willows to plant.

2. Plot out your veggie garden. It’s one thing to have a pile of seeds, or dreams of veg abundance, it’s another thing to plan where and what to plant. I like to use graph paper and a pencil and think about it systematically and visually. Unfortunately, my husband likes to just plant things and then not mark them in any way I can understand—so sometimes we have gardening “situations.” The important thing to remember is to not plant the same plants in the same place you planted them last year, because you need to trick the bugs into getting lost.

3. Order your seeds and transplants. Start by organizing the seeds you might already have and then—and this is the fun part—page through your favorite catalogs or websites to find what you want and order seeds! Remember, if you go to places like Home Depot and Wal-Mart to get your plants, you are more likely to pick up diseases and blights from the stuff grown there. This is a great chance to support wonderful organizations like Seed Savers Exchange, and your local independent nurseries instead of the “big box” stores.

4. Make a list of all the things that need to be cleaned up and fixed. Again, since gardening isn’t just about growing tomatoes, it’s also about enjoying your whole outdoor life, ask yourself what happened over the winter that needs to be fixed? Are there trees that need to be pruned, or plants that need to be moved? Did someone who shall go unnamed leave your favorite tools out in the snow and ice, and now they are destroyed and need to be replaced.

5. Clear the decks (or the beds). Nothing is more depressing than having the first bulbs start to bloom in the spring, but you can barely see them under last year’s dead flower stems (with perhaps some trash and dog poop involved). I like to start at one side of the yard and work my way around and cut back dead plants, cleaning up and removing trash and whatever else one finds after the snow melts (which, for the record, it still hasn’t quite). I also like to call my dear landscaper friend Reds Bailey and say, “please come, quick!” And he and his guys come and spend a few days helping me out—and look for new ways to use a backhoe, because they really do love that backhoe.

It’s almost spring! Yay! Starting today I will no longer wear socks (and would rather not wear shoes, either), and you can probably find me out back in the garden.

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12 Responses to It’s Time to Think about Gardening Again!

  1. Nancy March 4, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    yes, he is dear, isn’t he?

  2. Lisa (Southern Indiana) March 4, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Mmmm, okra! I just made a pot of gumbo last night with some sliced okra I froze from last year’s gardern.
    If you haven’t grown okra before, just a word of advice. Pick them small and pick often. In our summer heat, one day makes a world of difference. Wearing gloves is a good idea. The little pricklies make me itch like crazy!

  3. Alina March 4, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    Oh, It is so exciting to plan new crops. I am going to try the biodynamic seeds this year and if I get organized enough try to follow the moon phases as well. I did that two years ago (very very roughly) and it was a great year in our garden. Of course the weather was co-operating so I’ll see this year if it was just the accident or not. LOVE Spring! of course our snow just barely melted yesterday so we still have ways to go…

  4. Mike Lieberman March 4, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    My goal for this year is to eat more than twice off my balcony.

    Any recommendations for containers that get about 4-6 hours of sun. Right now, I’m doing greens varieties of lettuce, kale, spinach and chard. Anything else?

  5. Anne March 4, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Oh Boy! We still have a long ways to go before the snow is melted here in Canada. I have my baby geranium cuttings started, plus many others as well. I just can’t wait to get my hands in the soil outside once again and into my compost as well.
    Thank you for all your wonderful articles!

    Happy Springtime to you all..

  6. Jean Nick March 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    Veggies for containers that get 4-6 hours of sun: all the greens, scallions, root veggies, beans and peas, and herbs

  7. James Early March 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    Here in CT, I still have about 6 inches of not snow, but snow that has turned to ice on my garden. It is slowly melting and I am drooling over the seed catalogs. Usually by this time of year I am feeling guilty that I haven’t planted my peas. This year I have an excuse, at least for now. Keep that sunshine comin’.

  8. Myra March 5, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    I can’t wait! I checked the forecast for the next few days and the temp. tonight is predicted to be 32 degrees!!!
    Thanks for your “to-do” list, it made me consider mine. I will be checking out your links, too.

    At the library, yesterday, I checked out a very old Rodale book titled, “Country Living”. It is surprising how much information is still usable, since 1987! I guess that is why the library still has it.

    I keep thinking about a greenhouse, or at least, raised gardens. I saw an article about those in a small local publication. The beds were really raised, surrounded by cement blocks. No bending! I am dreaming!

    MyraSaidIt

    http://healthylivingtodayandtomorrow.blogspot.com/
    Visit me here to learn ways to have better health

  9. Marie March 5, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    I’m going to try starting seeds this year… bought a small rack of wire shelves, lights, etc. And since I have a shaded lot, with lots of deer and rabbits, I plant my veggies at the community garden (8′ fence! sun!). Last year was the inagural year for it. This year, I went ahead and added a second plot next to my original! Like I didn’t have enough weeds last year…

  10. Marilyn March 5, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    Here in Thunder Bay, Ont. cant garden until after 24th May…….seems a LONG time before the soil will be warm enough for seeds. Can always put plastic to warm it up!!!

  11. Laura B. March 6, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    How exciting! Really, I LOVE just thinking about it. This summer I am adding a circular 3 sisters garden. With giant sunflowers in the center. It’s going to be beautiful!

  12. Nike NFL Jerseys Wholesale July 3, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

    You make some good points. I guess it depends on your standpoint. I dont believe in the after life, although I am bringing a change of underwear. Woody Allen Born 1935

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