March garden checklist

Here we go! March marks the beginning of garden season. It is the time to make the final preparations for planting your seeds.

Plan your garden
If you haven’t decided what you want to grow and where you want to grow it, do it now. For help planning your garden, check out this post.

Build your garden
Create the infrastructure you need to grow food. Construct raised beds, mounded beds, or procure containers. This could also mean carving out any space in your yard. For example, I have extra space up against my back fence where I have planted strawberries, a hop plant, and summer squash. You don’t need to construct anything, just make sure the soil is in good shape for growing plants, learn how to prepare your soil for planting. This is also a good time to add drip irrigation and/or hoop housing.

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Hop plant climbing the back fence.

Build a trellis (or two)
If you plan to grow peas, raspberries,  or even cucumbers or squash, you will want to have a trellis in place to support these climbing plants or plants that need extra support.

Weed and prepare the soil
Be sure to weed the spaces that you are going to be planting seeds. After you weed, prepare the soil. If you have a container garden, you will also need to prepare the soil for your containers by purchasing potting soil, compost, and fertilizer. DSC_0014

Start planting seeds
You can plant pea, potato, arugula, lettuce, and spinach seeds outdoors in the Pacific Northwest in March. I plan to get all of these into the ground by the end of the month and will plant the majority of my seeds outdoors in early April.

Plant berries and bare-root plants
If you want blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, hydrangeas, lilacs, roses, or other bare-root or berry plants, get them in the ground this month. You can purchase these plants from your local nursery.

Divide perennials
If you have any perennials that you want to share or plant in another space in your yard/garden, you can dig them up, divide them, and replant. For example, I am going to dig up the roots of my mint plant, cut the root mass into separate chunks/divisions. Then replant the division or give one to a friend. You can do this with thyme, rhubarb (my rhubarb comes from a division from a friend), oregano, and chives.

Prune
This is a great time to prune your plants. Prune roses, hydrangeas, ferns, trees, blueberries, raspberries, grasses, and other bushes. Remove dead branches, and branches that rub up against one another to create more air circulation. This is important to maintain plants so that they stay healthy and strong.

Lastly, enjoy the fresh cut flowers that you planted in the Fall! Daffodils and tulips should be popping up. Did you miss the chance to plant flower bulbs in the Fall? Don’t fret, get ready now to plant dahlia tubers in May.

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January & February garden checklist

You won’t be getting too dirty in January and February, but you will get busy. Now is the time to plan and prepare your garden. Whether you are starting a garden for the first time, on your 5th year, or starting an herb pot, you want to put a little strategy behind your vision.

Your main task in January and February is to plan and make preparations to be ready to plant seeds and/or transplants in your garden, yard, and/or containers.

Before diving into what you will plant and where, there are a few other important items to-do.

January & February checklist

  • Purchase and plant bare root plants: roses, fruit trees, shrubs, etc. You will see these at your local nursery in February, possibly on sale. If you want roses, blueberries, raspberries, hydrangeas, lilacs, and other fruit and flowers like these, this is the time to make it happen. Learn more about planting bare root plants. 
  • Take inventory of garden supplies, seeds, fertilizers, and potting soil. Do you have what you need to plant seeds? Do you have the seeds you will be planting? Are your gloves still in good shape? Do you have enough fertilizer? 
  • Build structures to support growing plants. Are you planning to grow any plants that climb or need support? Like climbing peas or raspberries? You will need a trellis. Do you want to install irrigation this year? Do you want another raised bed? I have two raised beds and have decided it is time to add a third. I am creating a plan to build this bed before I need to plant seeds in this bed in March. DSC_0183
  • Prune perennial fruit trees/bushes and roses. Time to get everything cleaned up! 
  • Plant onion and leek seeds indoors. If you want to grow your own onion and leek transplants, now is the time to do it. These crops take a long time to grow so it is best to plant as transplants versus directly planting the seeds in the ground. 
  • Finish harvesting any crops that overwintered in your garden. It is time to finish off those leeks, carrots, and beets. Make room to plant in March! img_6704

While you are making preparations to be able to plant your seeds and transplants in March (specific to Seattle), you need to make a plan for what and where you will plant. 

Check out this post to create a plan for what crops you will grow and where they will be planted.

Time to start daydreaming about a yard full of flowers and edible food!DSC_0091

October garden to-do list

This post is for both active gardeners and those of you that want to start a garden or grow something. As much as we are starting to wrap up the 2016 gardening season, there is still plenty to be harvested, seeded, and prepped for the current season and next season (Spring 2017).

Here is your October checklist (according to my checklist):

  •  Harvest your Fall crop! And remove plants that have been fully harvested. This includes pumpkins and winter squash. I plan to leave leak and carrots in the ground at least through October, if not November. dsc_0031
  • Leave bean and pea roots in the soil. I recently read NOT to remove the entire bean and pea plant after it has been harvested. Cut it down to ground level and leave the roots in the soil to continue to release nitrogen into the soil. Many crops remove nitrogen from the soil, but peas and beans add nitrogen into the soil.
  • Add a floating row cover. To try to extend the fall crop season, add a floating row cover. The picture below is a hoop house + a row cover. I suggest building a hoop house in the winter when you are not competing with vegetables to install the hoops. So for now, try a floating row cover. dsc_0038
  • Plant garlic. Choose the location wisely, as the garlic will grow and live in this location until it is harvested in July. Plant either softneck (stores longer and tends to be what you find at the grocery store) or hardneck (doesn’t store as long, but bigger and richer in flavor and harder to find at a grocery store). Thanks to this Encyclopedia Botanica podcast about Planting Garlic, I have already purchased my garlic seed from my local Farmer’s Market so I am all ready to plant in October. I will grow primarily hardneck because we eat a lot of garlic (so I don’t need to worry about storage) and it is not typically sold at grocery stores. A 1/3 of my total garlic planting will be softneck. For more on planting garlic, check out this postDSC_0037
  • Plant Spring flower bulbs. You can plant tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, ranunculus, lilies, iris, crocus, and more in October. Make note of where you planted your bulbs. I have definitely dug these up a few months later when weeding. Don’t have a yard but have a deck? Then this is for you. You can absolutely grow these bulbs in pots.
  • Plant cover crops. Cover crops can grow in your soil during the winter, adding organic matter and nutrients, and keeping it healthy for next season. You can use clover, fava beans, rye grass, peas, buckwheat and more. If you decide to forego cover crops, be sure to cover your soil in mulch. For more information about cover crops, check out this post by my friend and fellow gardener.
  • Move citrus trees indoors. And any other houseplants that have been outside for the summer. I have a lemon tree that has been living outdoors, as temperatures begin to near low 50s at night, it is important to move indoors.
  • Plant blueberries and fruit trees. In the PNW, you can plant these now or in the Spring. dsc_0008
  • Prune and clean up roses. Of course, only do this after roses have finished blooming. Remove rose leaves on the ground to prevent disease.
  • Lift and divide perennials.  If you want to spread the love of any of your favorite perennials or share them with your friends. This is a great time to lift and divide them while the ground is still warm. Learn more here.

As you can tell, this is a great month to wrap up a fabulous 2016 and already start planting and prepping for 2017.

Important side note: You never have to feel like you need to do all of these things. It is simply a guide to help you decide what you want to do in your garden, yard, or in the pots on your deck.

What is on your checklist to do in the garden in October? Any tips and tricks to share?