Regardless if you are a brand-new green thumb or a well-seasoned veteran gardener, it’s important to schedule and plan out your beds or containers. Not only will you find yourself becoming more efficient in the garden, but you will also learn which practices and tasks will help you keep your gardening spirit alive during the boring cold season. The more productive you can keep be outside of the warm season, the more plants you will be able to grow!
Before the warm weather starts to creep in, there are a bunch of tips and tricks we recommend that will help you make the most of your time and available space. The timing of each activity we mention here will depend upon your USDA Hardiness Zone (if you are in the United States) and the weather in your area. No matter the time of year however, you can always research new gardening techniques, volunteer at your local community garden, or befriend other gardeners in your neighborhood to swap harvests with. Fun is half of gardening, after all.
Here is Gardening 2021: When to Start, Plant, Harvest, and more!
January & February
Before you go anywhere or do anything, think back on how your garden and all its plants did last season. Write down any notes you can remember regarding how each plant did in each space, which plants were bothered by bugs or animals, and anything else noteworthy you can remember from the previous year. Having this knowledge handy will help you get a plan together for the upcoming season.
On a day when you have an hour to spare, go out into your garden bed and measure exactly how much space you have available to use; these measurements should include the length, width, and depth of your beds – knowing the depth will help you determine if you are able to grow root vegetables or not. If you don’t have space for garden beds, measure your pots, vertical garden, or find the dimensions of a straw bale to figure out what you have to use.
Once you have your dimensions, draw up a diagram in a notebook, on some graphing paper, or even in Excel. Now that you have something you can use to arrange your plants ahead of time, you can play with different ideas early! With this, keep in mind where you may need to place trellises or a walkway for easy accessibility.
March & April
Now that you have a diagram to play around with while you wait for the warm season to return, you can look up the date of your area’s final frost; the easiest way to do this is to enter your zip code into the trusty Old Farmer’s Almanac final frost web page (though you can also refer to your physical copy of the 2021 Farmer’s Almanac). With this in mind, you can now start writing up a sowing and transplanting timeline!
For this timeline, it’s best to have your vegetables, fruits, and herbs of choice already picked out. Each plant will have different tolerances to cold that directly translate to when you can start them; you can always start your seeds inside instead and wait to transplant until after the final frost if you’d like. (It’s also possible to plant by the Moon, but that’s something we’ll get to at a later date.)
The last thing we recommend doing in March and April is to start charting the amount of shade and sunlight your garden bed or potential gardening location receives. If you are lucky enough to work from home, plot what you can at regular intervals (once an hour is best) each day for a week or two at the end of April, keeping in mind that the amount of sunlight will increase over the Summer. If you have to leave home for work, take time on each day you have off for two to three weeks and do the same.
May, June & July
Based on your geographical location, final frost is finally here sometime in May! All your patience has come to an end and you can finally start sowing and transplanting in your garden – it’s about time. If you started your seeds inside and have strong seedlings to transplant, we recommend starting by moving these baby plants into progressively brighter and warmer locations to avoid transplant shock. If you did not start seeds already, it’s time to sow them, taking care to follow the directions in your seed booklet or on your seed packets.
If you are an experienced gardener, now is also the time to start planning out your cool weather crops. These are plants that germinate well in cooler soil and reach full maturity in the middle or toward the end of Autumn. Look at your existing plants and their harvest schedules: will you be able to plant your cool weather plants in spots where you harvest your warm weather crops, or do you need to create another spot for your Autumn plants?
Last but not least, don’t forget to record in your gardening journal for the season; this will not only help you keep track of the growth pattens of your crops to make sure they are doing well, but it will also be a wonderful tool to use when planning for future seasons. There are dozens of wonderful Garden Journals online, but you can also make one yourself if you are particular.
August & September
On average, the hottest month of the year is August (in the United States), so it’s time to start increasing your water schedule or begin collecting your hard-earned harvest! The first of these two months is also a wonderful time to collect seeds from your favorite fruits and vegetables to dry and store for the future. Many cool weather plants love to have their seeds sown during the first week of this month, so prepare your seeds or get ready to transplant again.
By the time September rolls around and the average daily temperature has significantly let up, you can begin to pull your annuals and prepare your perennial plants for the cold weather to come. Some perennial herbs like their soil to be fertilized around this time, so check out your local garden shops and centers for sales on remaining additives, soil mixes, and even seeds that weren’t sold earlier in the season.
October, November & December
The official end of the season is here; while you reflect on your successes and failures of the year, clean up your garden beds and cover them with mulch, if necessary. When you do this, consider the wildlife of your area; many critters and creatures depend on the food and habitat that your garden scraps provide at the end of the season, so maybe don’t compost or toss all of those unnecessary bits right away.
Piles of sticks and fallen leaves can make great shelters for insects, birds, and small mammals, while branches or pinecones can be rolled in peanut butter and birdseed to help your neighborhood’s feathered friends get through the Winter. Dedicating yourself to researching permaculture and its importance can be one thing you think about now to put into practice next year.
Now that you are officially ready to say goodbye (and good riddance) to 2020 and say hello to 2021 and all the gardening possibilities that come along with it, all you need to do is get started! Bonus tip: it’s never a bad idea to look at your gardening tools for wear and tear. Check out our article on Gardening Tools to figure out exactly what you need for a successful season.
Is there any gardening subject you have questions about or would like us to cover? Let us know in the comments or message us on our Contact Page. We post more articles every other week, so check back for more tips and tricks every month!