How to Prepare Your Garden

How to Prepare Your Garden :: Five Little Homesteaders

photo courtesy of southern foodways alliance on flickr

For a lot of you, it might be hard to believe it right now with all the snow on the ground, but spring really is coming!

Before you know it, it will be time to plant your garden!  Are you ready?  Are your plans in place?

This post will give you my top 5 tips for how to prepare your garden this spring.  I’d love to know:

What would you add to the list?

How to Prepare Your Garden

1.  Prepare Your Soil -  There are several schools of thought on this topic.  Some advocate using a tiller.  Others say to stay away from the tiller and utilize lasagna gardening or hugelkultur

Some people add amendments, like organic fertilizer to their garden.  While some simply toss in some compost and/or manure and call it good.  Whatever the case, make sure you’ve vetted all your options and decided what works best for you.

2.  New Seeds – The age of your seeds can dramatically impact your germination rates.  For the most well prepared garden/gardener, I strongly suggest starting each new season with fresh, unexpired seeds.  These can be ones that you saved from your previous season’s garden or seeds that you have purchased from a reputable source.

If, on the other hand, you are a tried and true “waste not, want not” type, then make sure you at least perform a simple seed viability test prior to planting.

3.  Start Your Seeds Indoors – Now, depending on the size of your plot and the type of set-up you have, this may not be entirely possible.  However, I’ve always had the best results from seeds and plants that I have started indoors under my grow lights.

That said, if you are unable to start them indoors, work on coming up with some type of simple hoop house or cold frame design that you can use outside to protect your tender seedlings.

4.  Harden-Off Your Seedlings – Before planting your seedlings in the ground (if you start them indoors) or removing their protection (if you plant out with a hoop house or cold frame) make sure you harden off your seedlings.  This is the process of slowly exposing them to unprotected air temperature and sun so as not to shock and/or kill them.  You start by giving them just a little exposure and then increasing the amount of time each day until they are constantly exposed to the air temperature and sun intensity that they will experience in their permanent growing location.

5.  PLAN! – This is probably the most important of all 5 tips.  Make a good plan for your garden, including crop rotation, companion planting, what you are going to plant, when you are going to plant and where you are going to plant.

It is also good to keep a journal of your planting dates, as well as your successes and failure to help in years to come.  Depending on the size and complexity of your garden, it may also be beneficial to keep track of expenses.

The question is, how do you do this level of planning effectively?  I’ve found that using a notebook of some sort can be incredibly beneficial.  You can use a simple bound book that you buy for less than a dollar at the store or you can buy a notebook designed specifically for the task of organizing your garden.

If you recall from last year, I started using Angi Schneider’s The Gardening Notebook and have really enjoyed it.  It includes everything you need to make a thorough plan for how to prepare your garden and stick to it.  Since it is a printable PDF document, I was able to just print and use the pages that worked for me!   I find her product to be incredibly useful and I think you will too.  The good news is that The Gardening Notebook is on sale right now for 30% off (using the code SPRING2014) which means you can get it for just $6.97.  But hurry because this sale ends on Monday, February 10th!

Click here to check out all that is included with this printable notebook. 

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Comments

  1. These are all great steps, but I totally think PLANNING is key! Growing in the Northeast it feels a bit odd to start seeds inside when it’s miserable and snowstorming out but in just a few months we’ll need those seedlings outside. I’m excited for Spring to come so I can get my nails dirty!

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