With this spring garden checklist and 5 tips for spring planting, you are ready to give your garden the tune-up it needs to flourish. What you do at the beginning of the season will help ensure a happy, healthy, and productive garden all year long.
Spring Garden Checklist -
5 Tips for Spring Planting
Spring Garden Checklist - Tip for Spring Planting #1:
Clean Up Garden Area
Cleaning up the garden is a two-step process: First, clear your garden area of everything that is not purposeful or beautiful. Take a good look around and assess if you really need all those “______”. You can fill in the blank as you know what has accumulated in your garden area through the years. The wisdom of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” also applies to your garden:
“When you come across something that you cannot part with, think carefully about its true purpose in your life. You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role. By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order. In the end, all that will remain are the things that you really treasure. To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”
“All you need to do is take the time to sit down and examine each item you own, decide whether you want to keep or discard it, and then choose where to put what you keep.”
The second step is once you have only what you need and love in your garden, take the time to “tidy up” the area.
- Remove leaves and debris, and pull weeds.
- Clean and sanitize growing containers and tools by washing them to remove debris, rinse, and then treat with a 10% chlorine solution. Keeping things clean helps prevent pests and diseases that can undo your hard work.
- Repair garden beds and trellises.
- Replenish mulch in pathways.
Spring Garden Checklist - Tip for Spring Planting #2:
Make a Plan
Now that your area is clean and you only have what you use in the garden, make a plan for what you want from your garden. This tip for spring planting is to begin with the end in mind. If this is your first garden, my “Step-by-Step Guide to Starting a Garden” will help you get started.
Think about the goals for your garden.
Do you want to grow a large amount of food?
Or grow unusual varieties of vegetables not easily found at the store?
Would you like a cutting garden for bouquets of flowers for your home and friends?
pollinator garden to attract bees?
The first step to accomplish your goals for your garden is to make a plan.
- Take a minute to recall what went well and what didn’t in the garden last season. If you have a garden journal to look back in, great! If not, now is the time to begin. Remember, “mistakes are proof you are trying!” Learn from those successes and mistakes as you make your new plan.
- Use a planting guide meant for your area to see what grows well at this time in your area. This is the Vegetable Planting Guide I use for the low desert of Arizona.
- Sketch into a garden journal or type out how you will use the space you have to accomplish the goals you have set for your garden.
- Order seeds (I like ordering from Seedsnow.com, Baker Creek Seeds, Seed Saver’s Exchange and Botanical Interests) and locate sources for plants you would like to include.
Spring Garden Checklist - Tip for Spring Planting #3:
Get Your Garden Ready
- Add fresh compost and lots of it to your garden beds. The organic matter in soil decomposes over time and needs to be replenished.
- Check your watering system and make adjustments, replace batteries in timers (I use this one from Amazon), and fix broken or leaky fittings.
- Are you planting peas, luffa, or other vining vegetables in a different location? Add a trellis to that area.
- If your plan includes an additional raised bed or containers, purchase or construct those and get them ready to go.
Spring Garden Checklist - Tip for Spring Planting #4:
Plant at the Correct Time
Use the date on the calendar as a guide for planting, but the temperature is the best indicator of when to plant. Most vegetables germinate and grow best above a certain temperature; use a soil thermometer (I like this one from Amazon) and take the guesswork out of seeds germinating. Remember that soil in raised beds will heat-up more quickly than in-ground beds.
If you follow this tip for spring planting, as a general rule, cool-season crops grow well at nighttime temperatures of 55℉ to 60℉ and daytime temperatures of 65℉ to 70℉. Warm-season crops do better when about 10℉ warmer than optimal cool-season temperatures.
Spring Garden Checklist - Tip for Spring Planting #5:
Let Seedlings Acclimate Before Planting
Whether you grow your own or get them from a nursery, it’s best to let seedlings gradually adjust to the environment in your garden. Leave them outside under a covered patio the first day or two. If cold nights are still an issue, plant in the morning to give the transplant a day in the sun to settle in before it cools off. Consider covering new plantings for the first few nights if temperatures are below what they like and to protect new seedlings from birds and other animals. Handle transplants by roots and leaves when planting, not stems. They can’t grow a new stem; treat it with care.
Once you are ready to plant, enjoy the process of planting your seeds and seedlings. This is the fun part!