Spring is right around the corner. It’s time to start thinking about the upcoming garden season.
WHAT? Gardening in February?
Yes! February is one of the most critical months for gardening. This month you will prepare yourself for the upcoming garden season.
It’s time to get out your garden journal, brainstorm new garden designs, and develop your plan for a bountiful harvest.15,000 Non GMO Heirloom Vegetable Seeds Survival Garden 32 Variety Pack by Open Seed Vault
Let’s dig in!
Having a plan in place before you begin the garden season will help you to organize your time and maximize your productivity. If you are like me, you don’t have much time to spend in the garden every day. Between spending quality time my teens, helping with their school work and activities, my nine-to-five job, and the necessary daily tasks of managing a household, I find my time very limited. However, that isn’t going to stop me from having a garden and experiencing the joy of harvesting the fruits of my labor. Your schedule shouldn’t deter you either.
If you decided to garden this year but are like me with limited time, then you have come to the right place.
As I said earlier, February is the most important month during the gardening season. This is the month where you organize your ideas, take stock of leftover seeds from the previous garden season, order new seeds for this garden season, and prepare yourself for the months ahead.
Your Garden Journal
If you don’t have a garden journal, I suggest you make one. Your journal is an essential tool you will use over the next few months. It is a place where you can keep your ideas, your plans, notes, and doodles. You will use this journal when planning your garden in the following years.
Take Inventory of Leftover Seeds
Seeds typically keep the best when stored inside an airtight container. For optimal longevity, store them in below 40°F in a dark environment, maybe a bottom drawer in the refrigerator. Seeds stored in less than ideal condition can decrease in quality. They may take longer to germinate or fail to germinate at all.
Take a small sampling of your seeds (maybe 10 or so seeds) and pre-sprout them in a sandwich bag. If less than half germinate, it’s time to throw out the old seeds and replace them with new ones.
Map Out Your Garden
Mapping out your garden will help you to develop a plan. Start by drawing a rough sketch of your yard. Not all areas of your yard receive full sunlight. It is imperative you know how much light each area (“zone”) receives. Different crops need different amounts of light to reach their maximum potential. After you have your sketch, determine how much space you are going to allow for planting.
In my garden, for example, I have a space that is 10 ft X 5 ft and receives full shade, and another space that is 50 ft X 50 ft that receives full sun to partial sun depending on the time of the year.
The Earth tilts on its axis. With the change in season, the sun’s position in the sky will change. When you plan your crops, remember to take this into account as the zones in your yard may change with the change of seasons.
Two Things To Keep In Mind When Planning Where To Place Your Crops
If you plant the same crop in the same space year after year, you risk depleting your soil of viable nutrients. Crop rotation not only helps to reduce the amount of nutrient deprivation, but it also helps to prevent crop-specific diseases and pests.
Certain crops like to grow near each other and even produce better when planted together. Likewise, some vegetables do not coexist well and will not reach their maximum potential if they are planted close together. Knowing which plants to pair and which ones to keep apart is imperative to achieving the maximum results from the toils of your labor.
Now that you have an idea of where to begin, it’s time to start planning. Having a good, solid plan in place will save you time and energy down the road.
How Do I Choose What To Grow?
When looking through catalogs and shopping for seeds, you can be overwhelmed by the variety of vegetable, flowers, and herbs to choose from. When I first started gardening, fifteen or so years ago, I went to the local home depot and loaded up on seeds. I picked out all types of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. I had over 50 seed packs when I left the store that day. I had good intentions and wanted to try to grow a multitude of items. However, I was thinking with my enthusiasm rather than my brain. If I were able to spend hours a day in the garden, then sure, why not grow a multitude of varieties. In reality, I don’t have more than thirty minutes a day during the week to spend in the garden. Most of my free time falls on my days off, and even then I have a long list of chores to do to prepare for the coming work week.
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When you choose what to put in your garden, choose wisely and think about the amount of time you will be able to spend gardening each day. Although it is fun to grow a variety of things, be realistic when developing your garden plan.
6 Things To Consider Before Choosing Your Seasonal Crops:
- Planting Dates
- Harvest Dates
- Soil Types Needed
- Space Needed Per Plant
- Structures/Support Frames Needed Per Plant
- Amount of Sun Per Plant Variety
Turn Gardening Into A Family Event
There is nothing like the feel of freshly tilled dirt beneath your fingers, the beauty of a flower’s first bloom, or the taste of a homegrown tomato. Growing up in the south, my father taught me from early on the importance of hard work.
“Give 110% in everything you do.”
“Can’t never could.”
“It is what it is. Keep trucking, and you will eventually get there.”
Dad always has a large garden. I secretly compete with him every year (I haven’t won yet!). As a mother, I want my children to experience the fruits of their labor and to learn what it means to live by the work of their own two hands. Gardening has become a family event, especially during planting and harvesting season. Both of my sons are tweens. I don’t have many years left before they are out on their own. Spending quality time with them is a priority. Gardening as a family has helped me do this.
Gardening together has brought us closer and helps to increase their self-esteem (we’ve all been a tween before and know first hand the difficulties they face with puberty) and establish a sense of pride for the work that they do. My kids love gardening so much, they have invited their friends and their cousins over and had them out in the garden working alongside them.
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