Late winter is tough for many people in my region (the Great Lakes Region of North America). It is cold, snowy, and, often times, very grey. However, it is the best time to start planning your garden for the season. As you look out onto the white blanket covering your gardens, try to imagine what you want the space to look like in the spring, summer, and fall. Ask yourself: what do I want to keep the same as last year and what do I want to change?
By late winter, you should have an idea of where you want to establish new gardens and how you will create them. I often establish new gardens using a method called sheet-mulching. Although it is not ideal, I always do my sheet mulching in the early spring, in March or even April (the ideal would be to do it in the late fall so it is ready for planting as soon as the ground thaws. As a student I never seem to be able to make this happen). This means that I need to make a plan and source materials in late winter.
The best thing about late winter is that you can start buying seeds online, at Seedy Saturday events, or at garden centres. I also order plants this time of year, especially speciality ones such as native plants that are hard to find in nurseries. This is the perfect time to decide what plants you are going to grow this year and whether you are going to start them as seeds or source seedlings.
Over the next few days I will post a series of blog posts about spring planning, with ideas about best plants for pollinator gardens, some excellent veggies and fruit to grow, how to prepare to sheet-mulch, and where to order seeds and seedlings. The first step to spring planning, however, is to get yourself a garden journal.
I suggest exploring these questions in your garden journal:
- What do I like about my garden(s)? What works well?
- What do I want to change in my garden(s)? What doesn’t work so well?
- Am I going to create a new garden bed? If so, where?
- Does my garden provide a sanctuary for urban animals (including pollinators)? If not, how can I change this?
- Do I grow food/medicinals that I actually use? If not, why not and what can I grow that will be consumed/used?
Also, take a moment to do this exercise. If you feel inspired, draw your answer.
Imagine an ideal outdoor space – your own personal sanctuary. Now imagine that it is also a sanctuary for wild animals including insects. What does it look like? What plants are thriving? What structures are present (or absent) in this space of flourishing? Where are the garden beds? Where are the pathways? Who flourishes in this space?
How can you bring these elements into your garden space?