Let’s talk about the gardening tasks that you need to be doing now to prepare your garden for spring and summer planting and the beautiful harvests.
We plant a big vegetable garden, and spring seems to surprise us every year when it shows up finally. We’re like: “Wait! We’re not ready yet! We must get organized!”
Well, we can get organized together! We’ve gathered some tasks that need to be completed so your gardens will be ready for spring planting. It’s here!
Review Your Notes From Last Year’s Garden
One thing I’ve learned over the past couple of years: take copious notes because I forget stuff from fall harvest to spring planting! I now keep a notebook in my gardening tools bucket so it’s with me when I’m working in the garden, and I take notes.
We try to take notes throughout the year about our gardens. They include the weather, last frost, rain, weeds and pests, harvest successes, first cold spell, and what we grew that worked best.
Some things I had in my notes that will carry over to this year:
- I grew two of my favorite-ever tomato varieties last year (black cherry and chocolate sprinkles). I’m definitely planting them again! Several of them! I think I might have a tomato problem…
- We found out that two tomatillo plants yield so many tomatillos we couldn’t eat them all.
- The strawberries loved being planted in the raised gutter. We’ll add another one this year.
- Focus on companion planting. I want to add herbs and flowers to the vegetable beds. This should help encourage the pollinators and add colorful beauty to the gardens.
If you didn’t take garden notes last year, try to this year. You’ll be surprised by the information that you’ll have for your gardens when next spring comes. And notes make good references for coming years too.
I seem to want to plant a bit of everything in my gardens. Last year, I had 30 tomato plants, 20 pepper plants, and lots of carrots and beets. But the gardens weren’t as organized or planned as I want them to be going forward.
I’ve found that I really need to utilize gardening layouts to help organize what I am going to plant where. I now make a chart with graph paper and fill in what I want to plant. That way I can keep track of crops and rotate them.
You can create and organize your own gardening layouts. Maybe you’ve already completed this task, but if not, now is the time!
If you need some inspiration, Better Homes and Gardens has several free vegetable garden plans on their site.
The calendar is a gardener’s friend. You’ll be able to graph when to start your seeds indoors and when to plant the seedlings or sow seeds outside in the gardens.
The Farmer’s Almanac has a handy tool with the average date of the last spring and first fall frost dates for your location. These are based on the USDA hardiness zones, and NOAA’s forecasts.
You take the last spring date, look at the seed packet to see how long it takes to sprout and work backward to determine when to plant your seeds. For example, pepper seeds need to be started indoors 8-10 weeks before the last spring frost date.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac also has a planting calendar to help determine the best dates for planting vegetables and fruit in your garden, again depending on your location.
The planting calendar calculates the best time to start seeds indoors and outdoors, as well as when to plant the young seedlings or transplants outside. Fun fact: the planting calendar shows dates based on frost dates and dates for planting by the moon.
This is what I’m using this year. I got The Week By Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook for Christmas. It’s fabulous! It will help you manage your gardening schedule and break down basic gardening tasks for you. I highly recommend it to you too.
It’s hard to decide how many seeds you want to start. Some of the packets come with 30 seeds, others have 100 seeds. Who’s to say what’s right without experience?
One site, morningchores.com, has a vegetable garden size calculator that will help you determine how many plants you’ll need to yield your chosen harvest in pounds. It is entirely flexible and easy to use. You just input your family size, what you want to plant, and how large you want your harvest. It will tell you how many plants you’ll need and how long the rows are.
The seed catalogs all arrive in the winter. We love to sit by the fire and go through them all, daydreaming about what we want to plant. It’s so tempting to order one of everything! But there is only so much room in the garden.
You probably already know what you want to order and how many you’ll need by using the seed calculator and vegetable garden size calculator.
You’ll want to get your seeds ordered in February so you can start them indoors in March.
Look at your gardening tools. Do they need to be cleaned and sharpened? Do some need to be replaced with a new model?
Look at your seed stash to see what you need to order for this year’s garden.
Gardening Tasks to Complete Before Spring Planting
Apply compost mulch
- Rake it into the bed weeks before planting.
- Helps soil retain moisture
- Stops weed growth
- Helps the soil stay warmer in cooler weather and cooler in summer months
- Organic mulch decomposes, leaching nutrients into the ground
Turn the soil
- Several times before you plant to help prevent weeds from growing
- What needs it in early spring before the plants come out of dormancy
Perform Soil Tests
- To determine the pH level, if it needs nitrogen, potassium, other nutrients
- New raised garden beds and planters if needed
- Arches and trellises before you start planting
One thing I love about gardening is that there is always something new to learn. I spend time doing research and reading about new gardening items, new hybrids, and older wisdom.
When I am getting ready for spring, I try to attend the local spring gardening shows.
We have a huge one in Seattle every February, the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. This year, there were 30 display gardens, 100 free seminars and workshops, and a large garden marketplace.
In fact, Better Homes and Gardens named this show the Country’s Best Garden Show. “Spring Fever” was the theme, and spring fever hits me hard after I attend this one.
You can network with other gardeners at the shows. Talk with Master Gardeners who have a trove of information and advice at the shows. Find local seeds, seedlings, and unique garden treasures to purchase. And new ideas are everywhere you look. Some might even transfer to your own gardens.
For more information about gardening, I recommend The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Ed Smith. It has three parts: 1) From Seed to Harvest; 2) The Healthy Garden, and 3) Plant Directory. I find that I go back to the book to find answers to my questions and for plant research. You’ll love it!
Spring Gardening Tasks Wrap-Up
So there you have some gardening tasks to help you get ready for spring planting. I think you’ll find that planning and preparation lead to the best results at harvest time.
You’ll have fun, you’ll learn new things, and best of all, you’ll eat the best produce ever out of your own garden. Just look at the picture of the garden above. Doesn’t that make you want to get ready for spring gardening?
Here are some of the most unusual vegetables that you can plant in your garden. Are you going to try to grow some of them?