One of the ways gardeners “cope” with winter is to plan for spring!
But this is not just an exercise to make you feel better about the cold and the gray weather. Getting ready for spring planting is actually a practical activity that prepares your garden for spring plants.
It also makes the growing season go more smoothly when you have a plan and start early.
Here are my tips on getting ready for spring planting.
1. Save Containers
Whenever you use lettuce, strawberries, or other foods that come in a clam shell container, save the container. A lot of them have convenient holes in them for drainage and circulation. Fill these with soil and they make excellent seed-starting containers. Other containers you can save for seed starting are:
- Yogurt cups
- Paper cups
- Egg cartons (these are good for holding cut-up seed potatoes)
If you haven’t started composting, do so now. Set up some sort of containment system, such as a bit of portable fencing against your house or deck fence, or a garbage can with holes drilled in it. Then add leaves, yard waste, newspaper shred, and kitchen scraps. Stir it periodically and, if you have access to worms, add them into the middle. If it’s very cold, though, composting goes slowly – you can help by putting the compost pile in a sunny location or even starting it in a bin indoors.
3. Get Out the Seed Catalogues
This is a fun one! Go ahead and order your seeds as you plan what you are going to grow this year. Look over your notes from last year – what grew well? What failed? Are there some plants that would grow better in a sunnier/shadier part of the garden? Order your seeds so that you can begin planting indoors at the right time for those seedlings to be ready for moving outdoors in April or May.
4. Take Advantage of Warm Days
In many areas, there are warm “moments” even in winter, especially late winter. Whenever you experience one of these brief thaws, get outside and work the soil. This not only helps aerate the soil and assist with decomposition of leaves and such; it also makes the initial turning of the soil in springtime easier. That can be back-breaking work, so spreading it out over a few months and weeks can help a lot. If you are going to add lime or compost (if it’s already “ripe”), you can start now.
5. Prepare Your Tools
Nothing puts a damper on spring planting like not being able to find your tools, or finding them rusty and dirty. Get your tools organized and ready, and clean them by scraping off dirt and rust. An abrasive pad and oil will help remove rust and restore shine and mobility to tools like clippers. Sources say that storing tools in a bucket of sand is best for preserving them and keeping them sharp.
Photo credit: brendan-c