Are you determined to have a bigger and better garden this year? Most gardening years start out like that for me. It’s January, you’re ready to go, but the ground is frozen. Here are some tips for starting off the New Year’s garden right.
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I’ll make some suggestions for harvesting, planning, and garden maintenance. Keep in mind that I’m in hardiness zone 6a, so you may have to adjust my suggestions for your climate.
Harvest (from Under Protection Outdoors)
- Beet family: beets, spinach, swiss chard
- Cabbage family: Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, radish, turnips
Here are some things you’ll need to do to prepare for the garden season.
- Design your garden
- Decide what to plant and how much
- Make seed & supply purchases
- Figure out when to start seeds and plant seedlings
- Use a wall calendar to write in planting dates and maintenance tasks
- Set up an indoor seed starting system
Note: Would you like some materials to help you get organized, track progress, and reach your goals? Need to know when to start seeds and plant? Check out the free bonus materials that come with your purchase of my book, The Suburban Micro-Farm: Modern Solutions for Busy People!
Completing some of these tasks this month (weather permitting), will make next month much easier!
- Cut back dead plant matter. Trash it if it was diseased, otherwise compost it. I like to compost in place by chopping the organic matter into smaller pieces that will feed the soil life and break down easily. Leaving the roots intact will also feed the soil life. See my article Building the Right Compost Bin.
- Weed garden beds.
- Add soil amendments to inactive gardens with a digging fork. If you have compost soil or composted manure, now is the time to add it.
- It’s the perfect time of year to improve soil.
- Rake leaves and make leaf mulch, or save them for composting.
- Cover beds with a deep mulch. I like shredded leaf mulch because it’s free, but chemical-free straw is good, too. For more of my mulching tips, see Mulching in the Garden.
- Clean, repair, and replace tools
Tidying the Garden
Did you leave last garden season in a huff, leaving the mess until spring? Get a jump on this year’s garden season by getting outside whenever the temperature is above freezing and doing some clean up work.
Here’s some work I did recently in the front yard rain garden:
I left it at the end of last season…
I used my garden scissors to cut back the dead sweet alyssum plant matter.
All cleaned up…
This is how much dead alyssum flower plant matter we got…
No garden bed should be left with bare soil, so my garden scissors came in handy to chop this into 3-inch pieces and reapply it as mulch to the same bed…
Looks the same only much tidier, and done in under an hour. And because the mulch is just sitting on top, it will be easy to push aside for planting new things in the spring.
Another note: I didn’t pull out the old plants, I cut them off at the base. Why? Their roots will biodegrade, enrich the soil, and feed the next plants to be planted here. This is how to manage the soil in a no-till garden.
What did I miss? What do you do in January?