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6 Reasons to Start Planning (and Planting!) Your Garden Now

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With spring just around the corner, here’s what to do right now to ensure a successful veggie garden.

As I’m writing this, my Southern city is bracing itself for a big snowstorm (Well, big by Atlanta standards, anyway). Warm, sunny days seem eons away, but when it comes to gardening, planting season is actually just around the corner.


This will be the third year my family has tended a vegetable garden. And every year we get a little better at it, learning from our mistakes. But our biggest mistake is that we wait until late spring — in other words, those first warm days where being outside is a pleasure — to get started. And by then it’s too late.


Not this year, though. There are plenty of reasons why now is the time gardeners should be working in earnest on their gardens. These are the ones that resonate with me.


  1. You’ll have time to plan what to grow and order your seeds from heirloom seed companies. Sketch out your garden plots and make a list of what you want to grow, then start browsing websites and catalogs from seed companies to get your order together. By planning ahead and researching the different varieties of plants, you’ll be able to get exactly what you want and you’ll have plenty of time to wait for the seeds to be delivered from heirloom seed companies like Seed Savers Exchange.


  1. You can get seedlings started inside. Starting your garden from seeds ensures that you know under what conditions your plants have been grown, particularly important if you’re trying to keep an organic garden. Use a seed starting chart to calculate when you need to get started, and don’t forget that you can repurpose household materials like newspaper or eggshells as the little pots.


  1. You’ll have plenty of time to sow those early-spring crops. Supposedly March 17 is an auspicious day to plant peas. Not only is it the right time in the season for this cool-weather crop, but planting peas on this day supposedly brings good luck. But peas aren’t the only plants that are best to get into the ground in the next couple of weeks. Determine your geographic zone and figure out what to get in the ground while the weather is still cool. In my part of the country, I’ll be planting beets, broccoli, carrots, and greens.


  1. You’ll get a head start on building and installing necessary structures. Get your garden beds and work spaces ready for the season, whether this means building a nice potting bench out of pallets, creating raised beds, a rain barrel, or constructing a framework for mesh to keep out the pests (a must-do on our list for this year, after losing lots of greens to a family of rabbits last year!). That way, when the time comes, you can focus on planting.


  1. There’s time to collect household materials for your garden. Remember all those clever gardening repurposing/upcycling projects you pinned onto Pinterest last year? Now’s the time to start collecting the stuff you need to do some of those projects: save milk cartons use as mini greenhouses or scoops, strips of old T-shirts to stake plants, and newspaper to smother weeds. And while you’re at it, ask around your neighborhood for anyone replacing their gutters: the old ones can be used to make a vertical strawberry garden.
  2. Your soil has time to get in shape. Get your soil tested now at your local cooperative extension office with an at-home kit, and you’ll be able to determine what it needs so it’s balanced and able to adequately nourish whatever you plant. Chances are, a good layer of compost will help it immensely. You haven’t gotten on the compost bandwagon yet? Then don’t waste another minute starting a compost pile; the first batch can be ready in as soon as 3 months, which means that you can add it to your garden in June.


Fellow gardeners: What are you doing right now to get your vegetable garden ready? Share your projects in the comments below.

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan
I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same. more
  • JC G. 3 years ago
    good article.
  • Larry M. 4 years ago
    Amazing Phoenix weather allowed me to plant my tomatoes in Nov. Already enjoyed a couple of ripe ones and plenty more on the way. Potatoes, beans, squash, leeks and mint are snug among the flowers.
  • VICKI R. 4 years ago
    I wished I had the skill to plant a garden, I have tried numerous times and it always fails. I live in AZ so it gets really hot and for some reason I just can not keep things alive. I wish everyone the best of luck and I envy you all.
  • NAncy Lee B. 4 years ago
    It stormed in NYC too but we have started some seeding on window sills indoors to get them read for transplant mid April. Also checking tools, seeing if trays and pots are in good condition ad trading what we don't need with others waiting for the season. We also constantly stir our compost to keep if from freezing , so far so good :)
  • Tammy E. 4 years ago
    There is no way I can start planting here now. We have a blizzard warning today and the National Weather Channel is in our town tracking the huge storm coming. We don't get to plant here until Memorial Day. And as for soil testing, our soil is still frozen solid lol.
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