Now is the time to get your “rows” in order! Pardon the pun, but for us gardeners late winter early spring is an exciting time of year. Whether you plan to plant indoors or out, this time of year will be a busy one for the likes of your plants you have planned to grow OR are now in the planning process to do so. Either way you have to keep an eye out on what is happening with the weather and plan accordingly as you see the optimal environments coming to fruition. (again, pardon that pun as well.
If you live down south of a certain latitude on this great globe of our, your garden is already in the soil and your growing season is well underway. Many of us up north here, are still dealing with a winter’s worth of snow and cold temps. Even though indoor planting can start anytime during the winter months, keeping the ambient temps at an acceptable plant-growing level is a concern at this time of year.
Even if you can’t get your hands dirty quite yet, there are plenty of things you can – and should – be doing right at this moment.
In order to hit the ground running (what’s with all these puns?) when your growing season arrives in your area, it is a great idea to have all your planning, scheming, decisions, inventory (heirloom seeds) gathering, buying, prepping, and repairing – where needed – jobs done. Here are a few points to help you set up your own to-do list to maximize your pre-growing readiness.
Garden Growing Preps: Organize Your Area Before Planting
Envision this year’s upcoming garden that you want to have. Many like you want to add on, rearrange or tweak the layout every year. Lessons can be learned from planting to planting, and it is good to organize your thoughts by putting the plan on paper. Some of the things to keep in mind in this endeavor include:
Accessibility – how can you and your family access the plants themselves, again, whether they be in pots, aquaponic grow beds, or in the garden plot in the backyard. Can you easily access it when you need to? Spacing, volume and capacity of the growing area are all concerns here.
Critters – often are the biggest hurdle between a robust harvest and things withering on the vine. Try to keep the plants most appealing to hungry wildlife in spots least accessible to them, or in areas you are most able to protect. What animals and bugs do you have in your area? Now, indoors this is less of a thing, but for the outdoorsy types you need to protect as much as you can what you are looking to grow.
Pollination – are the plants you want to grow dependent upon the bees? What can you do to support that to happen? The indoors plan have to take this into consideration… if the plant absolutely needs it, how you going to get those flying fuzzies to the seedlings and buds?.
Planting Synergy – certain plants do better in close proximity to others. Others do not do well at all. Still others are needed for that crucial pollination to happen… Learn for yourself which can be best planted next to each other.
Soil Conditions – With Aquaponics, you are always looking to maintain the right environment for planting with pH, nitrogen and nutrient levels in the system. In pots, or in the backyard you may need to add or subtract things that are in the soil you are planting in. Think about soil depth and composition. Plants that need more acidity will not do well in the section where you have discarded wood stove ashes, and a very long root crop such as parsnip will need deep, rock-free soil for proper growth.
Gardening is experimentation at its most finest form, and you can mix and match at will this wonderful puzzle to get the best yields possible each time you plant and grow
Growing Season Preps: Buy The Right Seeds And Seedlings
Ideally, your seed buying process should be ongoing and long before you look to put something into your choice of soil. Buy the seeds you need BEFORE you need them, and develop a seed saving method that keeps your supply high. Do not procrastinate on this point. Many seed catalogs sell out early, particularly the smaller and local ones especially the ones that concentrate solely on heirloom seeds. If you have not ordered your seed packets, do it right away. If the ones you want are already sold out, be resourceful and check out the local commercial greenhouses and they should have a few of the more popular ones in stock.
Remember that some of your vegetables should be planted right in the ground from seed and there are other varieties which need to be started ahead of time indoors or in greenhouses. Start your own “seedling shack” and get the timing right for your climate to when you start your seedlings for those plants that need a more tender touch in their beginning stages than just wide exposure to the great outdoors.
If you are doing aquaponics, or are looking to, then you will need that seedling system put into place so that you can best transfer those readied plants into the grow beds. Either way, depending upon your local conditions and personal preference get the timing down for planting the seedling and the eventual transplanting of them into their growing space. Know which is which and be ready for implementation. (Helpful tip: You can start your own seeds, or buy them all started from a greenhouse.)
Bountiful Gardening Preps: Look Everything Over
It is not only the seeds you need to make sure you have on hand, inventory your supplies for your whole gardening adventure. If you are starting your own seeds, make sure you have all the plug trays and soil you need. Also check to see if you have the incubators, or grow lamps, or nutrients for the indoor growing experience. Check out your lights, bulbs and mats, and repair or replace as needed.
Outdoors, and according to your growing zone type, you may need to use row cover, or nutrient rich mulch, greenhouse glass type plastic, landscape fabric for weed mitigation or any other materials which are reusable but do not last forever, take a look at your collection right now. In particular, if there are rips you forgot about or if you discover mice did damage to it over the winter, you will want to replenish your supply early while there is still a good selection available in stores.
If you are still waiting for the ground to thaw, now is a terrific time to get your garden tools out and look them over. Sharpen, repair and replace as necessary.
Outdoor Gardening Preps: Getting Things Ready
If you are able to access your backyard garden spots at this point, get busy outside!
Clear the space out for planting e.g. leaves and debris.
Test you soil composition even if you did so last season. You want to know what you may be dealing with and what add ons you may need to make the harvest a better chance of hapening.
Add compost and nutrients as needed per your testing.
Repair the growing beds (whether raised, propped or ground level) and garden structures as necessary (watering systems, drainage etc.).
Get fences, posts and climbing trellises in good working order. Put your protections against the larger critters in place as needed.
Shore up greenhouse and cover tunnel structures. Tighten tubing, replace plastic coverings and ensure heating and cooling components are ready to go for the season. Again all depending on the growing zone you may find yourself in.
There are a few things that you can undertake that can be as rewarding as securing your food sources independently. There is something about growing your own food that is supremely divine, but every climate, environment and season outdoors has its particular challenges and advantages. Get organized, stocked up and busy now for a wonderful harvest season down the road.