Planning to Garden in the New Year? Get Crackin’ Now!December 27, 2012
Even if your soil is a saturated muck field or your shrubs are covered in icy snow or you just don’t feel like getting outside, it’s time to get over the holiday lazies and get on with your next year’s garden. Right now is when to start planning & prepping for your new year garden!
Hmmmm….Am I writing this for readers? Or am I talking to myself?
To be honest, it’s a little of both. This time of year, I think we all need a a coach to blow the whistle on our lazy, cookie-filled butts! Get out there everyone and do at least one lap around the garden before this year is over!
Still not sure what to do? Consider this quick, easy set of ideas, including both some indoor and some outdoor chores — all of which will help you get a jump on the fast-approaching growing season:
- What’s missing? Winter is a great time to look at the garden and rather than groan about how “dead” it looks this time of year, instead view those drab spaces in light of what you could plant to add color and interest next winter. Garden centers should be filled with winter bloomers, and there’s nothing like visiting a local botanical garden to see what really blooms, berries , has sturdy evergreen foliage, fires up with brilliant twigs or offers whatever special need you think will work to brighten your own garden.
- A few great winter shrubs, perennials, ferns and grasses that look great right now: Camellia sasanqua, Garrya elliptica, Sarcococcca, Hamamelis, Helleborus, Carex, Mahonia, Twig dogwood, Snowberry, Nandina, Wintergreen, Calluna, Erica, Cylcamen & more!
- Soil testing: Did you take those soil samples in fall? Oh, you didn’t? Well, it’s not too late. If you can get a soil probe or a shovel into your winter garden beds, do it. Mail in those samples so you’ll have results before winter is over. It can take months for amendments like lyme to do their jobs. Best to get it done asap!
- Schedule your professionals: I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to plan ahead in all things gardening. Now’s the time to get on my schedule if you want to be planting a garden in early spring that you can enjoy during the warm season next year. If you wait until the first sunny, warm day in spring to call, you’ll be one among many who get started, but find themselves wishing they’d gotten ready earlier. Plan now; enjoy by spring!
- Seed sorting: Before you go too nuts ordering from all those wonderful seed catalogs this winter, take a little while to inventory leftover seed from past years. Seed can remain viable for many years. Generally, the larger the seed size, the longer it will stay alive and ready to germinate.
- If you’re not sure if your seed is still good: Moisten some leftover newspaper or tissue from those holiday boxes, insert a couple of each kind of seed in the moist, but not soggy, paper. Place it in window sill and leave it for several days — being sure to keep it moist — if the seed’s hard outer casing softens and the seed begins to sprout, odds are they’ll germinate well for you when it comes time to plant.
- Order seeds: I can’t resist ordering something every year. I may try out a new type of tomato or bean or lettuce. Heck, I may have used up all my spinach seed last year. Whatever you love, be sure to to order it early. Sometimes suppliers run low on the really good stuff later in the season.
- Plan and evaluate what worked and what didn’t and what may need to change: Did a plant exceed size expectations? Did you add a new family member who needs more room to run in your backyard? Did some cool, new plant already bite the dust this winter? Now’s a great time to start mapping out where you need to change what come spring.
- In my own garden: I’ve realized our new puppy prefers to poop on cedar chips and she loves to run her face under hairy carex, so I’m planning to rip out our tiny toupee of a lawn in spring, cover the area in a thick layer of chips and surround it with ornamental grasses. The grasses will “hide” her potty, and she’ll love to use it!