Five simple steps are all you need to help you towards your best garden ever. These gardening tips and organizing ideas will help you plan for a season full of flowers and vegetables.
One of my favorite things to do in January, February and March is to dream and plan for this year’s garden. This is the time you can go through garden catalogs and see what new varieties there are and what you’d like to try in addition to your old standbys.
It’s the time to have the garden of your dreams – before weather, bugs, and life get in the way. A time to write down your garden goals to see if you can harvest your own flowers and food this year.
Other than harvesting, it’s the part of gardening I enjoy the most – and most people don’t even think of it as gardening! Oh, but it is – and I think it’s key to having a garden that you’re in control of and has a chance to actually produce what you’d like it to.
Take time to enjoy these steps now and you will really be on your way to your best garden ever!
5 Steps to Take Now For Your Best Garden Ever
1. Dream and imagine. Take time to look through catalogs, magazines, and gardening books and think about what you would like your yard and garden to look like. You can tear out pictures for inspiration (um, not the books, though!) or simply make a list of the things you like: new pathways to add, new seating, vegetable and flower varieties to try, and more.
This is fun – don’t skip this step! It really helps to get you excited for the season when you think of all the possibilities.
2. Realistically plan. Okay, now you’ve got the dream – now how to make it a reality? What can you do this season and what in future seasons? Think about your time and resources and go through your dream list and mark off the things that really aren’t possible. Write it down in a section of your gardening journal so you can refer to it later – there are pages for this in the Garden Success Plan Notebook that is free for all subscribers to AOC’s weekly newsletter. Click here to sign up!
For me, a look I love is the huge swaths of rolling English gardens full of flowers and shrubs. But I know the upkeep is not for me. So I think about my favorite flowers and see where I can add just one or two of those (yep, that would be hydrangeas!). Again, there’s a page in the Garden Success Plan Notebook where you can list your favorite flowers, trees, and shrubs and one for your favorite vegetable and fruit varieties so you don’t forget.
If you are new to gardening (or starting a new garden), check out these resources that may help you create the easy-care garden we all desire:
- 10 Steps to Start a Vegetable Garden
- Design Your Vegetable Garden for Easy Care
- How to Plant a Garden the Easy Car Way (both vegetable beds and flower beds)
3. Sketch out your plan. Once you’ve decided on what you can do this year, make a basic sketch on graph paper of the bed(s) you want. Use 1/4-inch graph paper and make one square = 1 foot (if that’s too big, you can make each square equal 2 feet). Use one graph paper page for each bed, either flower or vegetable.
For flower beds, make circles roughly the size the plants will need (i.e., 4 squares deep and wide for a 4-ft. wide plant) and use a number in each of them. Then list the numbers at the bottom of the paper with the plant names they represent.
4. Purchase what you can. Now that you have a list of the plants you want to grow, make a list of what to buy. If your list includes bare-root plants or trees, you can start looking for them now in catalogs or nurseries to plant once your ground isn’t frozen (if you live in a cold area). For us zone 8 gardeners, we can easily plant in February and March.
If you start vegetables and flowers from seed, you’ll want to get your order in as soon as possible. I like to be done by the end of January or February, since popular varieties tend to sell out. You can always buy from seed racks in early spring, but your options are more limited. You can read here why I think it’s a great idea to start your own seeds, and this series will guide you through starting them all the way through planting the seedlings (as well as give you other vegetable gardening tips).
To make seed purchasing easy and make sure you don’t buy what you don’t need, use the “Seed Plant Needs” worksheet included in the free Garden Success Plan Notebook.
5. Start Implementing your plan. Start your seeds according to your last frost date (some seeds like peppers need to be started a good 2 months before setting out). Take advantage of a nice early spring day to create any new beds you sketched. Apply compost and soil. Look for sales on the varieties you on your list – now that you’ve planned, you can take advantage of them.
Whatever you do, enjoy working in the dirt and making something bare into a lush area that can provide you with beauty and food. It’s always the end product in mind that spurs me on – I can’t wait to cut the flowers for the kitchen or harvest the first lettuce of the season. Let that inspire you, too!
What are the ways you prepare for a new garden season?
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