Before Spring Gardening – Getting Started in Winter
It may seem hard to get thought of gardening started in the middle of winter when the snow is deep on the ground, but it is great time to plan and dream. Seed companies will be sending their catalogues out with all those fantastic pictures of delicious vegetables, giant blooms and dripping fruit. Now is the time to plan on having all of those from your garden.
Too many gardens start without a plan. This leads to having a whole lot of expensive seed bought on a whim and finding later that there is no where to plant most of them or to having a lot of prepared soil and nothing to put in it. Once spring hits with its weather changes and the snow disappears there is a lot of outdoor work to do and after a long winter there is the desire to be outdoors doing it. Before that happens is the time to plan.
Take a look at the existing flower beds and vegetable spaces to begin with, and decide if there is enough or too much. You know how the garden looked at the middle and end of last year’s season. This is your starting space. If it looked great and you think you can handle more then you can plan on a little more. On the other hand, if it looked a mess you either had too little time, energy or desire to keep it up and it needs to be backed off some. Of course if it looked fine then everything is good so leave it alone.
Now that you know the space decide what to plant. As a general rule of thumb, think of all the vegetables that people in your family like to eat and plan to plant some of each. Eliminate the ones that take up more space than you have available for a reasonable crop. Then take off the ones that will not grow in your climate. Include last years successes. Adjust amounts for the available space and figure out the amount of seed needed. It is a great idea to try a vegetable or at least a variety that is new to you to add a little more fun.
Flowers, especially annuals, are great things to grow for pure fun. If they do not quite work out no one goes hungry and you have the enjoyment of trying. Look for fast growing tall plants for the back of beds and medium ones for the middle and front. Of course small ones go in front but also can be used to surround taller ones to add low colour. Plan on starting or buying enough to well fill the available space. If you have a short growing season you may want to plant closer than recommendations so as to fill the spaces with colour before frost.
A little planning goes a long way in preparing for the season. Besides, in the middle of winter it becomes a real connection to the heat of summer and the wonder of growing a garden.