by Jonathan Leger
Do you wish to have a beautiful or productive garden next spring and summer? Have you thought about what you need to do in order to prepare for it? Late fall and winter offer both the time and opportunity to get everything set up so you will have less work to do when the temperatures begin to rise again. This will allow you to focus more on your plants when they require your attention.
Now’s the time to assess your property and determine where you would like to place your gardening plots. Instead of one large garden, you may want to place three or four small to medium sized ones in strategic locations. Of course, the ideal locations for these will depend upon what you wish to grow next spring.
Gardeners: Don’t Mourn the Off-Season; Instead, Get Busy!
If you do not know what you wish to plant, find out what grows well in your zone and select those plants that you like. Are you interested in creating a garden that is aesthetically pleasing alone or do you wish to have crops that will provide food or medicinal value to your home? There are many attractive plants, such as sunflowers, that are productive as well.
Investigate how much sunlight and water these crops will need in order to grow well. Then, check out which areas of your yard will meet these needs most easily. For example, if you have plants that need partial shade during the day, you can plant them where taller vegetation will provide cover or even where shadows from buildings or natural landscaping will.
Before you do any major digging, check with your utility providers to determine where underground pipes and other hazards may lie unseen. In most communities, they will mark these areas for free so that you need not worry about disrupting the service to your home and others.
Remember that the sunlight falls on your property differently in the winter than the summer. Plan your plots for the season in which your crops will be growing. Take into consideration everything that casts shadows on the land, and the direction water flows on the property.
You can also start purchasing items that you will need for the spring to reduce the financial impact when you are ready to plant. For example, you may want to get the decorations, fencing and your tools during this time. It is possible that you may even find good discounts toward the end of the year as retailers attempt to clear out their inventory before the first of the year. Since it’s the holiday season, why not add gardening items to your wish list?
If you have a space indoors, you can begin growing your plants with seed. Find out when the last spring frost for your area is and then, either check the instructions on the seed packet or use an online calculator that can be found on many gardening sites to determine when you can begin the seed starting.
Be sure to use the right size pots and the correct seed-starting mixture. You can purchase pre-made mixes or make your own. Be sure that you don’t use potting soil to start your seeds, because seed-starting mix is an entirely different product.
When the weather begins to warm up, you will have a head start on making your gardening dreams a reality!
Jonathan Leger is a member of the Garden Writer’s Association and a gardening enthusiast. Some of his other pieces can be found at uniqueplants.net where he shares his passion for the unique and beautiful plants of the world.