It may be a little chilly out still, but it’s finally the time of year to start planning out your garden! As the winter fades into spring, we can think about seed starting, and drawing up plans to ready your home/garden for new plants. How do we start the planning process though? Ultimately, think about what your garden goal for the rest of the year will be.
Perhaps your goal is to add more winter color. Perhaps you wish to certify your garden as wildlife habitat. Or, perhaps your goal is to attract hummingbirds! Personally, this year, my goal is to ensure there are blooms all growing-season long (during July-early September, the color fades more than I’d like it to).
Another goal to think about is: How can you be more sustainable this year? While it’s not always necessarily plant-related, sustainability is still important to think about while you plan your garden! Can you get a rain barrel now and install it to be ready for the heat of the summer? Can you reduce your chemical fertilizer & pesticide treatment? Can you build a composting area to get it started this spring? Can you include more companion plants in the garden to attract beneficial insects that can act as predators of pest insects? Can you add more native plants? By knowing what your goal is, you can create a successful plan to get you started this spring and help you along throughout the year.
Whatever your goal is, there are many ways to start the plan! You can draw out maps, take a plant inventory, create a “to-plant” list, or a planting schedule!
As plants pop up this spring, take a look at the space you have available and think about what is lacking (natives, host plants, late summer color, late fall resources, water source, etc…). Then, create an inventory. Write down what you have, or photograph the garden through all seasons so you can remember not just what you have, but WHERE you have it, regardless the time of year!
Creating a map of your garden and viewing the photographs throughout the year will help you see where you have some empty spaces as well as what’s in the surrounding area. There are many great garden mapping tools, however this is a great free starting tool!
Keep in mind as you plan your future garden out, there are many seeds that like to be started indoors, 4-8 weeks prior to the last frost date. As you come up with your plan, check and see if you can start seeds indoors in late February-March! Not only is this a rewarding way to obtain plants, but it also saves money, and allows you to start your gardening experience earlier in the year! Not all seeds want to be started inside, some plants, like Nasturtiums, have delicate roots that don’t like being moved and transplanted. Those will be seeds that you want to start outside once the ground has warmed up. You want to be sure that your little seedlings (or seeds!) are ready for the ground when the time comes in spring – summer.
Are you looking to add more native plants to your garden space? Regardless of garden plot size, natives are a great addition and many can even live in pots year after year! Learn more about plants native to your specific area here.