Birds chirp to each other on the breeze. The sun warms you from high overhead. It’s time to start garden planning. The smell of freshly turned earth reaches your nose. Trees are camoflouged with new green foliage. Robins pull innocent worms out of the ground for lunch. Daffodils are popping up alongside the shed. Soft, moist soil cushions your feet. Spring is here at last!
Oh, how I wish!
Just because the calendar says spring is here doesn’t mean it feels like it outside. The good news is you can be ready for spring once it actually gets here by planning your garden now!
I once thought garden planning was silly. Why couldn’t I just walk into the store, buy the seeds I wanted and go home and plant?
A couple years ago I found out why. To me, the best tasting sweet corn is peaches and cream variety. I went to the greenhouse I bought seeds from before but they were out. I looked all around town for these seeds. Still no luck. Spring was quickly turning into summer so I ended up settling for a ‘whatever’ variety. No doubt, the corn was delicious but it was no comparison to my beloved peaches and cream.
And then there was the time I wanted only 4 broccoli plants. Just 4! I stopped at 3 greenhouses before I finally found some.
Another time I wanted to plant ground cherries. Apparently no one around here has heard of ground cherries because when I asked at greenhouses I got blank looks. When I asked about seeds at a store, more blank looks. I had to skip ground cherries all together that year. Later in the summer I found out that a greenhouse 40 miles away had them. Good to know now.
Read More: 6 Forgotten Vegetables You Should Grow
All this to say that a little bit of garden planning could’ve made my gardening dreams come true and saved me a lot of hassle.
Garden Planning 101
My method for garden planning goes something like this:
- Dig through the freezer until my fingers are numb to figure out how much of each vegetable I have left.
- Scan my root cellar loot of canned food to see how much I have left.
- Dig through the garage to find my seed box. Dig through the seed box to figure out what seeds I have enough of and what I need to buy. *Remember, seeds don’t last forever. If you are using old seed the germination rate will be lower. Consider planting the seeds extra thick. After seeds get over three years old I throw them out.
- Check local stores for the seeds I need to buy.
- Order from Seed Savers any others I need to buy. Seed Savers is a company that sells organic and heirloom varieties. It’s so fun to look through their catalogue and find purple potatoes!
Yes, you can buy seed packets from the store, too. I’ve done that for several years, but the germination rate is really low. The produce isn’t always the greatest either. I can never grow nice carrots or bumper crop beans from store shelf seed packets.
- In March, I read the back panel planting instructions of all my seeds I want to start inside. I gather the potting soil and containers needed to plant. Usually by the beginning of April I have everything started that I want.
Living in northern Wisconsin, I usually start these plants inside:
- Brussels Sprouts
- If you are super organized you can even draw out a blueprint for your garden. When deciding what to plant where consider a few things:
- Where was that same item planted last year? (Generally, you want to rotate your planting.)
- Will it sprawl? Where will it sprawl?
- Will I want to till it under before the rest of the garden? (ex: radishes and lettuce)
- How far apart do the plants need to be spaced?
- Lastly, have your tiller checked out and tuned up so it’s ready to roll the day you are.
- Don’t have a tiller? Don’t want a tiller? Consider one of these hand push tillers like my grandma used. Otherwise, a garden hoe works great!
And there you have it! With a few simple planning steps you can be ready to plant your garden the day you get the urge! Or feel you are safe from frost.
Do you plan out your garden? Or just wing it?
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