More Winter = More Time! 5 Tips for Planning Your Garden

5 tips for planning

I bet more than a few of you found today’s groundhog prediction disappointing! Well, sure there may be 6 more weeks of winter, BUT couldn’t that also mean you have 6 extra weeks to plan the most awesome garden you’ve ever planted! That’s right, let’s reframe it!

A good plan is the secret to super gardening success in all scenarios. If you plan carefully, you can fit multiple plantings into a season for bigger harvests, you can add whimsical elements or additional planting space, you can super charge your soil, you can do things I haven’t even thought of yet!

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A good plan = plenty harvest to share!

Planning is power and these extra 6 weeks are your bonus time! Maybe you wanted to make a garden repair or addition. Maybe you forgot to plant radishes and need a few more weeks of cold weather to get them going.

Maybe there is a foot of snow on the ground giving you extra time for chores like cleaning garden tools, or maybe you need to order seeds and get them started indoors. Maybe you just want a few more weeks to pretend garden by collecting gardening inspiration and tips on Pinterest!

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Blackberry season will be here before you know it. How will you keep the critters away?

Or, perhaps this spring will be your first year gardening and all extra planning time is welcome! Eliminate some of the maybes, and create a solid garden design, planting schedule, and maintenance plan. That way, when the maybes you can’t control sprout up (like insects, too much or little rain, or critters find your veggies), you have a solid structure to work within, allowing the flexibility to manage the unexpected.

So to help you out, here are:

5 tips to get your water tight garden plan started:

1. Know what to plant when. Knowing the ins and outs of your growing zone is crucial for successful gardening. In Florida, you wouldn’t dream of planting tomatoes in May, but in Vermont it could freeze in May! Go online to your County Extension Agency’s website. They provide planting guides and charts specific to your county, or google something like “garden planting guide, Chesterfield County, VA” (for example). Then create a seasonal planting plan.

For you seasoned gardeners, plan something new. Keep your garden evolving and keep learning. Grow a new vegetable that you’ve never tasted or tried to grow, study and execute a new growing method  (such as growing in a hay bale instead of the ground), or learn more about companion planting and try it out.

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Our hay bale experiment last summer was a huge success!

2. Prepare your soil before you plant. Good healthy soil is the absolute key to a healthy productive garden. If you are filling a raised bed, get high quality organic soil. If you are planting in ground, get your soil tested by your County Extension Agent or buy a home soil test kit at your local garden center. This will help you understand what soil amendments you need to add. If you are planting in ground in an area you suspect the soil was once contaminated, be sure to have the soil tested for lead and other toxic to humans chemicals. Your County Extension Agent (again) can help you with this.

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So healthy and rich!

3. If you live near a wooded area, or will be growing in an area shared with pets, seriously consider some type of fencing to protect your garden from wild and domestic critters. Dogs, chickens, raccoons, squirrels, cats, opossum, deer, even bears can all decimate your carefully planned and lovingly tended garden if you overlook this step. (I have seen way too many sad new gardeners because they never considered the possibility that their dog would love strawberries so much.)

When planning your garden fence, be sure to consider the strength and cleverness of the potentially offending animals and build accordingly. In extreme cases a full enclosure could be needed. My friend had to build a full net house around her blueberry bushes because the birds were eating all of them. I’m all for sharing too, but there’s a limit!!

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Attack!!!

4. This seems obvious, but consider what worked in the past, what didn’t, and plan for the future accordingly. We know this (I’m guilty!), but it’s easy to get lazy and plant the same veggies in the same areas because they fit well there, or to not let beds go fallow because we don’t have much space to begin with so every bit counts. Fight the urge!! If you don’t already, keep a garden journal and document garden health and happenings each season. Include your planting plans for each season so you can be sure of good crop rotation.

If this year is your first year gardening or garden journaling, start off right and draw your planting plan, then take notes on bloom times, growth habits, tricks you tried (and if they worked), plant feeding schedules, wildlife attacks, harvest times and numbers, and any ideas and inspiration you get that you want to remember to try next year.

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Luck doesn’t grow a garden this beautiful, but good planning does!

5. Have a backup plan and ask for help when you need it. I have seen many gardens fail because the new gardener didn’t ask for help before things spun out of gardening control. When you have a tight plan, you know more what to expect, which makes it is easier to see when things may not be just right in the garden. Then, you can seek help and apply action before things get to far. (And when you keep a garden journal it gets you out observing in the garden more often to notice issues before they get out of control.)

There are many great resources offering garden help, including my new Let’s Build a Garden video course and phone consultations!!

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When the garden gets this big, there are plenty places for insects and fungus to hide!

If you think a plant looks funny take a picture to your locally owned garden center or Extension Agent and ask what’s up. (If you want to bring in a leaf or piece of the plant ALWAYS bring it inside a tightly sealed Ziploc bag. Nurseries don’t want the potential disease to spread to their plants!)

There are no dumb gardening questions and just like with humans, prevention is the best medicine. A little fungus or a few caterpillars on a couple leaves of one tomato plant is WAAAAY easier to treat than once it’s spread to all your plants! Stay proactive, ask questions, trust your instincts, seek advice, and take action early!

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What’s on your garden plan for this spring? Have an planning tips of your own?

Share in the comments below!

Post pics of your garden plan drawings on Instagram #wingswormsandwonder so I can see!

Seeds to Sprout:

What’s the origin of Groundhog’s Day? It’s pretty interesting actually. It evolved from the ancient holiday of Imbolc which fell on the day exactly halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Learn more about Imbolc here!

Have you ever checked out the Freebies page on the website? No, well hop on over and download yourself a free Dream Garden planning fun-sheet from the “Signs of Spring” post, a Grid Gardening Planting Plan from the “Teacher Appreciation” post, and the other fun freebies too here!

Want the ultimate garden planning experience? Well you’re in luck! I created the Let’s Build a Garden Course just for you! I will walk you through the process of creating, planning, building, filling , and planting an awesome raised garden bed for your dream garden! And it’s self paced so you can start and stop when you want and come back to it whenever you like too! Learn more and Join here today!

If you want more one on one garden planning advice, join the Let’s Build a Garden Bonus Package and get a YEAR of email consultation with me! I will get you set up for awesome garden growing success!!!! Learn more and Sign-up here today!

Check out my phone consultations and have an hour to ask me all the garden questions you can think of and get not only answers, but practical actions to implement!

Did you know I have TONS of planning, planting, and garden growing tips on the Wings, Worms, and Wonder Pinterest page? Check it out here and follow to stay up on all things gardening from nature learning for children, organic gardening recipes, workshops, and LOTS more!!

Happy full moon day! The February full moon is called the snow moon, because it snows a lot!

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Can you imagine harvests so abundant that you have enough to make holiday gifts the following winter?!

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