Why You Should Plan Your Garden in Winter

Freshly Harvested Spinach

Spring is right around the corner. Have you started planning your garden yet?

So many people wait until April or later to start even thinking about their gardens. But if you are waiting for the weather to warm to start to plan your garden you’ll miss out on the cool growing season. Which just so happens to be my favorite season in the garden.

It’s a common misconception that the growing season starts in May and ends in September. It’s actually much longer than this and can start as early as mid to late March depending on the weather (which we all now is wildly unpredictable here in Columbus, OH)

Cool season crops like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, and some root vegetables actually prefer cooler temperatures in order to germinate, produce, and thrive in the garden.

Have you ever tried planting spinach in May? I have. It did not go well. It sprouted but shortly after shriveled and died. Fast forward a year. I planted my spinach in early April. The difference was incredible. With the cooler weather the spinach grew easily and produced an abundance of big, beautiful, dark green leaves.

By planning your garden now you’ll be able to take advantage of the entire growing season, from March through November or even later.

Not only that, but a well planned garden will typically be more successful, less stressful, and less time consuming overall.

Here are a few tips to help you get started on your garden planning.

  1. Set Goals. Think about what you want to get from your garden this year. This could be something like grow enough herbs to skip buying them from the store.
  2. Consider Time. How much time do you have to dedicate to your garden? Gardens require regular maintenance (and will thrive because of it),  but what and how much you plant can determine how much time you are spending on maintaining your garden each week. Get realistic about time restraints and plan accordingly.
  3. Pick Your Plants. Make a list of ideal plants to grow. Check them against your goals and time restraints. If you are pressed for time this season stick to low maintenance plants like herbs, leafy greens, and a few root crops. 
  4. Make Your Planting Schedule. This may require some research, but don’t skip this step. It will ensure you get a full season of growing and that your plants thrive.
  5. Gather Your Materials and Supplies. Are you building raised beds? Just adding soil and compost to an existing garden? Whatever the case may be make a list of exactly what you’ll need and how much and start sourcing your materials. Don’t spend precious time in spring gathering your supplies when you could be planting and enjoying your cool season crops. 

Need some help? Get my free garden planning worksheet here.

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