Planning Your Garden – Getting a Good Start in the Garden

The first step to any potential garden planning is deciding exactly what sort of garden you will plant followed by the types of flower seeds, wildflower seeds, organic seeds, herb seeds, heirloom seeds and vegetable seeds that will be included in your garden. To help in your planning you will want to make use of the long list of free seed catalogs available from all over North America.

There are a variety of different gardens you can plant some of which include; container gardens, flower seeds gardens, vegetable seeds gardens, hanging baskets, butterfly gardens, wildflower gardens, fragrance gardens and herb gardens. A few tips to help in your garden planning can include; making use of the seed catalogs available from nurseries and garden centers; drawing up a garden plan to determine size of garden and space needed to hold all the plants you want to grow; using a garden journal for ideas and to record all gardening results.

Garden planning for the vegetable garden. This isn’t rocket science, it’s home gardening and here’s a simple way to rotate your garden to improve garden soil, increase the overall health of your garden and improve harvests. These gardening tips aren’t meant to replace common sense; but instead give you a guideline for a very simple method of crop rotation to avoid vegetable plant disease.

Whatever flower seeds and vegetable seeds you end up using will be sure to provide months of beauty and enjoyment. The wonderful thing about a garden is you can change it from year to year simply by adding different flower seeds or vegetable seeds.

January and February are the best months to plant bare root fruit trees. The sooner you do it, the better a selection you will have from nursery stock. Ask a nursery professional near you for suggestions on what to plant, what new fruit trees are being offered as well as some of the best heirloom or vintage varieties.

If you can describe your site to the professional, he or she can tell whether it would be best to plant genetic dwarfs (5 to 6 feet), semi-dwarfs (12 to 15 feet) or standards (15 to 20 feet).

Also ask if your tree needs a pollenizer and whether there are enough winter chill hours for the tree where you live.

Certain fruit trees, like cherry, peach and nectarine, require good drainage. Plant these at the top of a slope or make a berm or small mound for them. Pear and apple trees tolerate more water and heavier soils although no trees like wet feet.

Hold back pruning fuchsias until danger of frost is past. Those unsightly sticks and twigs provide frost protection for your plant.

When you are ready to take your Christmas tree down, if you have a living Christmas tree, take it outdoors and place it near the house in a protected spot until about April, when it can be planted.

If you haven’t pruned your fruit trees and roses, do it now. Then spray with lime sulfur and dormant oil.

Prune hydrangeas by cutting the branches that bloomed last summer.

Thin lilacs to encourage more profuse blooming in the spring. Lilacs and bush peonies bloom better with winter cold. You can simulate this by dumping lots of ice cubes at the base of these plants.

Nurseries should have asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries and artichokes in ready-to-plant bare root form. Bare root fruit trees arrive this month.

If you are going to plant Japanese maple, dogwood or deciduous magnolia, there still is time to plant these beautiful ornamentals, ball or burlapped, at a savings.

Thinking of color

To create color now, brighten winterflower beds or container gardens with intensely colored rosettes of the ornamental cousins of two winter vegetables by asking for flowering kale or cabbage. These are beautiful inter-planted with violas or johnny jump-ups.

This is the time to plant bare-root roses. Rose gardens involve time as well as money, so start with the best. Prune damaged or broken canes or roots before planting them. Plant them with a palm full of bone meal for root growth.

Here are ways to get the year off to a good start

Annuals still need to be fed and have their faded blooms pinched off (dead-headed) so that they will continue to bloom in the coming months. This includes pansies, primulas, calendulas, fairy primroses.

Plant strawberries now for spring harvest. Consider planting in a raised bed, hanging basket, or barrel or attractive strawberry jar.

Give your lawn a high-nitrogen feeding with pre-emergent materials to combat weed seeds. Use a “winter feed” type fertilizer. Their nutrients are more accessible in cold weather.

It’s not too late for the first application of spray on dormant plants, or to follow up with a second or third shot to kill insect and fungus pests before spring. Lime-sulfur or copper-sulfate dormant oil spray will help control fungal problems and also help suffocate eggs of overwintering insects. To help control peach leaf curl, which is a fungal disease of peach and nectarines, spray now with copper-sulfate and dormant oil and again in February right before the buds start to pop open.

Save on fruit trees and roses by picking from the bare root plants available. You can use Osmocote (slow release) in the planting hole. Get them established now to make the most of their spring growth period.

Check the watering for outdoor container plants, especially if they’re under the eves or porch where rain can’t reach them.

Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, peas and spinach seedlings can be set out now if soil is dry enough to be worked.

Rake up leaves and debris from lawn so a buildup won’t smother the grass.

Plant artichokes now. Fill a hole with one part humus and two parts soil. Plant with buds at surface and add mulch after growth starts. Protect ‘chokes from gophers by putting in a basket of -3/4-inch aviary wire.

While many flowers can be planted in the second and third weeks of the month, bedding plants, such as pansy, viola, primrose and sweet alyssum, give color the quickest.

Replenish organic matter and healthy structure of soil by spreading a layer of compost over the garden. Ask a professional nurseryman about correcting alkaline or acid soil and adding fertilizer. Use a Rototiller to mix this in with top soil. Do not work soil if it is too wet.

Plant bulbs, such as daffodils and irises, for spring and summer color. Space out plantings several weeks apart to make the most of the blossoming season.

Camellias are at their peak so plant now. They bloom best when planted in spots sheltered from strong sun and dry winds.

Remove an unwanted shrub while the soil is wet and the roots will pull up easier. Both deciduous and evergreen shrubs can be transplanted now.

Give household plants some attention. A white crust on the pot or soil indicates salt buildup. Put pot in the sink and slowly run water over the soil to leach out these salts. Even plants, such as African violets, that are watered from the bottom need an overhead watering once a month to leach out the salts. Your house plants will appreciate a leaf washing and continued fertilizing.

Protect frost tender plants (such as citrus) on dry, still nights when you know the temperature will drop below 32 degrees. Keep the soil moist and spray the plants with anti-transpirants such as Cloud Cover.

Garden Design Software

Many people find it difficult to envision a garden in the space they have to work with. It is not always easy to see the possibilities and garden design software can be a very welcome tool. For people that do not do well with pencil and paper planning garden design software can change how they can plan ahead to perfection. It may take a bit of time to learn the software program but they are most often made to be very user friendly. They will help you to take your garden area measurements and basic ideas and turn them into the design you want to make appear there. The programs will save you from struggling with converting measurements and erasing all your errors.

Garden design software can be found on the Internet. You can order or download one of the many choices you will find and begin to plan your garden in comfort. You will find some difference in the programs you can buy. Some will be very detailed and suit large landscape designers. Others will be provided more for the home gardener. They will allow him to lay out his garden shape on a grid and add things as he would imagine he may like them. It will show him conflicts that may arise before he goes to the actual trouble of building the garden.

If you think garden design software may help you get your garden started, take a bit of time to search the options and find the best one for your needs. You may even be able to find a basic or trial copy to download at no cost.