Creating the ultimate “what to do in the garden” list
I’m crazy about gardening! I can’t get enough of it. There is so much to learn and do, new techniques to try, new crops to plant, maintenance that needs to be done. How do you keep track of it all?
As much as I love it, gardening can be overwhelming too. I’m always trying to remember what cold weather crops get planted first and when my first and last frost dates are. One of the things that really helps me be more organized is consistently keeping a garden journal. I’ve been somewhat successful with that, but we’ve moved a few times in the past 7 years and during busy moving times, I’ve slacked off on my journal entries.
I think I finally have it figured out, though – introducing: This Month in the Garden
This will be an ongoing post listing all the things you could possibly want to begin (or continue) doing in your garden each month. I garden in zone 8, so your entries might look a bit different. I hope you will consider this a great place to start.
I encourage you to use these lists and create your own unique – This Month in the Garden entries – and keep it someplace where you can find it next year!
FEBRUARY in the Garden
- Continue perusing your seed catalogs and making garden plans
- Look for good deals at the local nursery
- Start a seed exchange with your friends
- Indoor sowing of cool weather crops
- Chit (sprout) your potatoes
- Warm up the ground with cloches or hot beds
- Continue digging and removing weeds
- Add compost to your beds
- Sharpen your tools (if you didn’t do it in the fall)
- Prune your autumn fruiting raspberry canes to within a few inches of the ground
What to plant outside
- Late February – make outdoor sowing of cool weather crops like snap peas. Devise a plan to keep slugs away from your garden seedlings
- Plant new fruit trees and bushes (weather permitting)
- Heel in your bare root plants until the weather changes
MARCH in the Garden
- The stores available selection is in full swing now, you should be able to find most things you are looking for.
- Separate your seeds by cool weather crops and warm weather crops, then by planting month (you can find this on the seed envelope) so you have your planting schedule.
- Start a seed exchange with your friends.
- Plant sweet peas. They can withstand the cool temperatures, even freezing and snow.
- Plant your seed potatoes as much as 30 days before your last frost date.
- Begin a salad tub or bed. I like to get some greens planted on my porch this month. I use a big 6 inch deep storage container, drill holes in the bottom and use it as a planter for leaf lettuce. Once I can get out in the garden I plant a raised bed too.
- Cilantro and spinach can go in the garden with frost and pest protection.
- Repair any fence issues you might have.
- Repair and/or replace raised beds.
- Till or dig the soil as soon as it is workable.
- Learn natural techniques for garden pest control.
What to plant outside
- March is a busy month for shrub growers. Lavender, rosemary, blueberry and santolina should all be cut back or transplanted.
- Purchase bare root raspberries and strawberries. Purchase or prune blueberry plants.
- Move, thin or transplant your existing berry plants – share some with friends!
- These herbs can go in the garden in March – comfrey, horseradish, chives, cilantro and calendula.
APRIL in the Garden
- Prepare garden soil for spring planting. Incorporate generous amounts of organic materials and other amendments, using the results of a soil analysis as a guide.
- Prepare raised beds in areas where cold soils and poor drainage are a continuing problem. Incorporate generous amounts (at least 2 inches) of organic materials.
- Use a soil thermometer to help you know when to plant vegetables. When the soil is consistently above 60 degrees F, some warm season vegetables (beans, sweet corn) can be planted.
I continues to be a great time to start a vegetable garden. Among the vegetables you can plant, consider these cool weather crops:
Beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, slicing cucumbers, endive, leeks, lettuce, onion sets, peas, potatoes and radish.
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, chives, endive, leeks, lettuce, peas, radishes, rhubarb, rutabagas, spinach, and turnips.
Clean up hiding places for slugs, sowbugs and millipedes. The least toxic management options for slugs include barriers and traps. Baits are also available for slug control. Read and follow all label directions prior to using baits or any other chemical control.
Set your strawberry starts in the ground and monitor for spittlebugs and aphids. If you find them, wash off with water or make your own soap spray.
If necessary, spray apples and pears when buds appear for scab. Cut and remove weeds near the garden to remove potential sources of plant disease. Manage weeds while they are small and actively growing with light cultivation or herbicides
Use floating row covers to keep insects such as beet leaf miners, cabbage maggot adult flies, and carrot rust flies away from susceptible crops.
Spray stone fruits, such as cherries, plums, peaches, and apricots for brown rot blossom blight, if necessary.