Spring is just around the corner. For gardening enthusiasts, the yard starts calling and fingers are itching to get into the dirt. Of course, it’s still winter. But there are satisfying ways to get a jump on spring gardening that will appease your green thumb, keep Jack Frost off your seedlings and set you up for a bountiful and colorful spring and summer.
There are a few key things you’ll absolutely need to know before any seed or start goes in the ground. First, find the likely first and last frost dates for your area and make a note. If you are new to gardening, study the hardiness zone for your area. Then buy seeds and starts that will thrive in that zone.
Take a look back before you spring forward. Make a list of last year’s challenges and successes. Loved the tomatoes but hated the brussels sprouts? Those zinnias bloomed like crazy but the pansies flopped? Make notes now so you can adjust for the upcoming planting season.
Set yourself up for success by keeping a gardener’s diary. Record frost dates, planting and seeding dates, weather, a diagram of your garden, what you planted, where, and how each plant performed. Keep notes of pests, fertilizers, etc. There are many diary options to buy online, but you don’t really need to spend money. Any old notebook will do, or even this free online template.
It’s helpful to know the pH and nutrient level of your soil. After all, every garden and what it needs is different. pH meters are available in nearly every gardening center and hardware store (and online). However, a few kitchen ingredients can offer the basic information. The Almanac offers several DIY instructions.
Learn more about your local soil makeup and native plants through a nearby extension office. Extension agents can help you find plants, deal with pests and so much more. Some extension offices may even be able to help with soil tests. Find one through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture or query a search engine for “extension office near me.” Local garden centers also often offer classes, and you can seek advice from their master gardeners.
One of the most fun activities with gardening is planning the layout. Follow this how-to and learn the best ways to plan and prep for your spring planting frenzy. You’ll need to account for sun exposure, raised beds vs. rows and so much more. Landscaping may also be necessary to clear space for new beds.
End of winter is a good time to find early sales on seeds and gardening supplies. Look for coupons and mailers from your garden center and seed companies. Another great option is to search for seed savers in local gardening clubs. Look through Facebook groups and sites like Meetup for like-minded folks who will have the inside line on the best way to find, buy and trade seeds and starts for your garden. Plus, they’ll know what works best for your soil and climate!
Keep yourself busy while winter wraps up with these fun and fulfilling gardening activities. Then, when the time comes, you can enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of your labor.
What is your best gardening tip? What are you planting this spring? Share in the comments!