Garden Duties: Spring Garden Planning
Updated: Jul 30
February can be extremely cold month, colder even than December and January. Here in zone 5b, there's not much do to yet for sowing or planting, the ground is covered with snow. We are going to wait a little before we start our seeds indoor, first we need to start planning our garden for the year.
Choosing what to plant is one of the best parts of garden planning, the rest can feel a little confusing. Seeds can be planted directly or indirectly, in spring or fall, in shade or sun, groups or companion. When you get down to the nitty gritty you can begin to know which seeds you need to start first, and so on. For me, it will always be starting my tomato and pepper seeds in the middle of February.
Where to Begin?
First things first, check when the last frost date is expected in your area. Knowing this can help you count backwards to find the best time to plant any vegetables.
One thing to remember is that Mother Nature is in charge here. It's no guarantee that the frost date won't come sooner or later, so take it as an average not as a set in stone date.
If you wanted to see when your average last frost date is: Canadian Hardiness Zones
Here in Halifax, Nova Scotia it's around April 21-30.
Check how long your new crops will take to mature.
Information on crop maturity is listed on the back of most seed packets, if not definitely research it.
If you buy a transplant, sadly it won't always have a tag to let you know this information. Knowing the type of variety will allow you to look it up on the internet.
For most up north, our growing season isn't long. If you don't have a season extender, like a greenhouse or a cold frame, it can limit when you even begin your gardening season. For myself, my season might start mid April or sadly early May.
Something to keep in mind: plants grow slower in the shorter, cooler, days of early spring, especially when the ground isn't fully warmed up yet. It's advised to start your seeds, not bulbs, indoor weeks before your last frost date, depending on the vegetable. This information is usually on the back of the seed packets, the vegetables will usually come from the Solanaceous, Cole, Cucurbit and Bulb Crops.
Also to Consider
Is your crop able to handle the cooler weather? Not all plants can survive temperature drops. Some plants love the heat, once the cold weather crosses their path it can cause a lot of damage to the plant, event kill it.
For example: Basil plants are sensitive to frost and any prolonged exposure to cooler temperatures can damage or even kill the plants. Even temperatures below 10 degrees can stunt the growth and might damage leaves.
Some Vegetables to Plant for Spring and Summer
Lastly Plan Out Your Spring and Summer Garden
The best thing you can do for yourself is map it all out before you start to seed anything in the ground.
There's a couple of ways to do this:
If you have a book or journal, plot out your gardening area and:
Write down the name of each plant.
Indicate where it was planted.
Add the date you planted it + days to maturity.
Season and Year it was planted.
If you don't like the idea of writing it down, there are some apps to help plot out your garden beds.
One I like using is Veggie Garden Planner:
It helps you plan out your garden bed season after season.
It helps you know if two plants are compatible.
It also helps you understand crop rotation.
The beauty of spring planting is that there's a fresh start to the season. It's a clean slate with all the hopes and possibilities of a fresh garden for the year to come. Don't think it's ever to late to start a garden, it all depends on the type of vegetable you wanna grow.