4 Ways to Get Your Garden Ready for the New Year


Frozen spider web heart – 27 degree temperatures will do that.

I saw a shelf of Valentines up at a store just a few days after Christmas. I shook my head and thought to myself, Really? It’s only December. We’re thinking about Valentine’s Day already? But honestly, gardeners are no different. I’ve gotten several seed catalogs in the mail recently and I am already thinking about my spring garden. I’m sure some non-gardener types could be muttering under their breath about me, Really? It is 27 degrees outside. You’re thinking about the garden already?

The answer is yes. I am already thinking about what I’ll be planting and I bet I’m not alone. As I write this, I think of a gardener friend who lives in Montana, who would be just torturing herself if she started planning her garden right now. Her growing season won’t arrive for months after mine. But here in the northwest, we are blessed with a long, mild growing season and you can bet I’m going to be sowing seeds as soon as I can.


My fall/winter kale, which is still feeding me!

So, while it might be too cold, wet and early to actually begin planting anything, I can most definitely start coming up with a plan of action. Here are 4 ways to get ready for gardening go time.

1. Make a list  – Don’t crack open those seed catalogs! Before you start ordering more seeds than you can grow, make a list of things you actually like to eat. List those vegetables you often buy from the store or farmers’ market. Write down those things that you canned and actually ate. Then, when you sit down with your seed catalog, use that list as you would a shopping list. Buy what’s on that list and maybe one other random splurge. You’ll save money and will end up feeding yourself rather than your compost bin.

2. Create a Plan – Another good thing to do before placing an order for seeds is to think about your plan for the season. What do you have space to grow? What new thing do you want to try in your garden this year? As a teacher ruled by her plan book, I tend to be a little more free-spirited when it comes to my garden, my creative outlet. But I know that with a little strategic planning, you can maximize your efforts and your space, resulting in a more bountiful harvest. These resources can help with the task:

3. Prepare for Fruit and Trees – Early spring is the ideal time to plant bare root trees and shrubs. Check out this post I wrote last spring while planting my espalier apple and cherry trees. Since I know I’m going to be adding a few fruit trees to my mini-orchard, I’ll be planning that part of my garden first. Last year, Swanson’s Nursery had an incredible bare root sale for as much as 40% off! So, it pays to start planning your orchard.

4. Gather Your Materials – If you’re planning on starting some of your seeds indoors, which you’ll especially want to do if you’re planting vegetables that need a long time to grow like brassicas and tomatoes, you’ll want to get your supplies together. Often times I think of this step when I’m wanting to start planting, but it makes more sense to get your supplies ready ahead of time, so that you won’t have to worry about that when the time comes. For a basic seed starting set-up, you’ll need:

Is anyone else counting down the days until spring? What do you do to get your garden ready? How do you prepare?

7 thoughts on “4 Ways to Get Your Garden Ready for the New Year

  1. WyldFlamingo

    I admit, I gave in and ordered from Territorial Seed already…but, I did sort of follow your rules, and largely ordered what I knew we would eat. One rule from my husband though–no more mini-tomatoes! Last year, we absolutely could not keep up with their production…this year, tomatoes mean discipline!

    1. stacy Post author

      Cherry tomatoes do produce like gangbusters, don’t they? Especially in the Northwest…way better than big slicers tend to do. 🙂

  2. Shavonda

    Im so happy im not the only one! I feel like the psycho garden lady. Here it is barely January and Im already thinking about tomatoes and tomatillos!! Im still waiting for my seed catalogs, but in the meantime Ive got to get my bare roots in the ground:)

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