Oh, Gentle Reader . . . it makes me happy to even think about getting started on this year’s garden, not to mention actually making my gardening to-do list and then 🙂 taking action on all the happy plans and lists. I’ve read some favorite bloggers lately who are writing about ways to get through the winter with their sanity intact: using light boxes and getting exercise and eating right and drinking enough water and all–and as I read the suggestions, the answer comes quite naturally to me, to the question of how do I get through the next couple of months of winter? Simple.
YES drink your water and OF COURSE eat lots of whole grains and veggies, and DO get some exercise and BY ALL MEANS get outside a bit every day and take your vitamins: all this is great and healthy–but also get started on the garden, baby! It’s such an antidote to the “winter blues” or SAD or just the sluggishness that accompanies the shorter days and the cold.
Without further ado . . . let’s get to the list of things that I’m doing this January to prepare for my 2015 garden. I’m in Zone 5, so if you plan to use this list for your own guidelines, be sure to keep that in mind.
Also, Organic Gardening has a dandy list of its own, if you’d like to check it for your zone: it’s customizable.
Here’s what I’m planning to do this month, keeping in mind that tomorrow’s high is going to be 2º (oh!) so all this will be done inside:
1. Replenish your supplies: as soon as they clear the Christmas stuff out of the stores, they fill up the shelves with gardening supplies, so this is as good a time as any to replenish your supplies, including seed-starting mix and organic fertilizers.
Hey, just a tip: IF you have outdoor cats and IF you like to mix up your own seed-starting mix, say, in the garage where the cats hang out and IF your ground outside is hard as a rock . . . ahh . . . you may want to keep that soft, loamy, sweet-smelling soil covered tight . . . 🙁 . . . just a tip.
This is a happy errand: go to the store to buy gardening supplies! While you’re there, pick up the hand tools. Do you, perhaps, need a new bypass pruner? Or perhaps a new trowel? It feels good just to handle these things, doesn’t it? You don’t even have to buy them to feel quite encouraged.
2. Draw up a plan of last year’s garden (if you don’t already have such a thing) to remind yourself of what crops you had planted where. You don’t want to plant everything in the same spot this year, so you’ll also need to make a plan of the way you want this year’s garden to be. You need to rotate everything (so the soil isn’t depleted of the nutrients that each crop needs) and these plans will help you with the planning. Make little drawings. It’s fun. Enlist your children to help, if you’d like. Here’s a link to an article with some sweet ideas about garden design.
3. Pull out last year’s seeds and organize them–make notes of which ones you have plenty of for this year (most seeds will last for years) and which ones you need to order.
4. Make a date with yourself--I usually schedule a good two-hour chunk out of an evening or two, or three–or more if I can get away with it!–I put it on the calendar, this is serious business, after all–to read through seed catalogs and make notes and see what’s new and choose what you’re going to order. Don’t wait until the last minute–many high-demand seeds (it took me two years of trying to finally get the seeds for the blue tomatoes I wanted so much, from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) will sell out early.
5. Order a few new seed catalogs, if you don’t have enough of them. Here are a few of my favorites: (Click on the names to go to their websites to order your own catalogs).
- Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds: one of the most beautiful catalogs out there!
- Bountiful Gardens: all open-pollinated seeds, and some great reading about gardening
- John Scheeper’s: specializing in seeds for kitchen gardens
- Pine Tree Seeds: especially nice for small quantities of seeds that you want to try: lower cost
- Territorial Seeds: beautiful catalog 🙂
- High Mowing Seeds: organic, non-GMO seeds, and hey, they have free shipping!!
7. Start your ginger. This week I’ll stop at Trader Joe’s and pick up a basket of fresh ginger roots (they don’t treat them there to inhibit sprouting, you know) and then I’ll soak them in warm water overnight, and then I’ll plant them in damp peat moss. It takes some time, but my ginger-growing experiment last year was a success. But you have to get started at it early because ginger is a very–slow–grower.
8. Start seeds of pansies, snapdragons, and hardy perennials in flats in the house. Keep them damp until they germinate, and then put them under lights during the day, or in a very sunny window.
9. Start collecting some things. Check this post in the archives for suggestions on this. You’ll feel so clever when it’s spring and you have everything you need to dive in headfirst to your garden . . . er. . . figuratively speaking.
There ya go, Gentle Reader! Happy, happy, happy garden planning! 🙂
- Superfluous Rooster with Dumplings
- Another happy list: Gene’s seed catalog list