Garden-Ready Checklist

Post by Contributing Writer, Holly

January is the time of year when we think about what we plan to accomplish in the year to come. For today’s post, I decided to focus on one specific goal: planning for the spring garden.

I think I’ve mentioned before how I LOVE planning stuff, almost as much as seeing a project accomplished. (There are times, however, when I just jump right into something, with little to no forethought. I almost ALWAYS regret it later.) I’m not sure what gardening goals you have for this year, but maybe this checklist will help.

© Michyn |

Build, install, and/or repair garden fencing.

I LOVE living in the midst of such a vast array of wildlife, but it does come at a price. I’m assuming it was deer and raccoons that enjoyed snacking on my vegetable garden last year. They rarely nibble on my flowers.

Partly because of the animals, I was not able to enjoy any sunflowers. I also lost some of my tomato crop to these adorable critters. One day, with excitement and anticipation, I checked on the status of the vegetable garden. Sadly, I found the top of my sunflower plant “missing.” The poor little guy was only about a foot tall. This year I will be better prepared. The deer and raccoons will have to admire the salad buffet from a distance.

Plan NOW for how you’ll outsmart the weeds.

I’ll probably use mulch in between the rows of seeds/plants. I’ve always been happy with the results in my flower beds. It will still require some hand-plucking of weeds, but it will significantly reduce the number of weeds, and should cause the successful weeds to be more “leggy.” The leggy weeds will be less resistant to plucking, if tackled at least weekly.

There are a number of successful approaches to dealing with weeds. How do you keep your weeds at bay?

Don’t use fresh or non-aged mulch or wood chips. As the fresh mulch or chips break down (decompose), they will rob the soil of nitrogen – nitrogen plants depend on.

© Kurespetr |

Gather and assess all gardening tools.

This sounds simple enough, and I suppose it is. However, as simple as it is, there’s nothing more frustrating than (finally) finding the time (and energy) to get busy with an outdoor task, and 30 minutes into it realize you’re missing a couple critical tools. Maybe this checklist will help.

Save and/or purchase any needed organic soil conditioners and fertilizers.

I spent a LOT of time and energy working with my flower bed soil. When we moved into our house, there were no flower beds – ANYWHERE. After finding the soil HEAVY in clay, I came up with a plan. I dug these huge trenches (future garden beds), dumped most (but not all) of the clay down the ravine, and mixed in all kinds of good stuff. I definitely used some of the clay soil, but only as a fraction of the soil. There are other simpler ways to handle clay soil, but they improve the soil incrementally each year. I chose to dive in. :)

I now need to spend some time working with my vegetable garden soil. I don’t plan on going to such extremes with that soil, but some TLC is needed. I think a little topsoil, composted cow manure, perlite (inorganic, glassy volcanic rock – a mineral), and peat moss will significantly help. I’m also excited to use my worm castings in the outdoor garden, too. If you have farm animals, don’t let their poo go to waste.

Did you know weeds can be turned into fertilizer?

Purchase any additional seeds needed.

I think I’m good on this one. If you’re not sure where to find good seeds online, you might consider the following websites:

  1. Mountain Rose Herbs
  2. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  3. Territorial Seed Company

Prepare for canning.

If you’re new to canning, or new to a particular kind of canning, start preparing now. It might involve saving for a water bath or pressure canner. Or, maybe you have one, or access to one, but haven’t canned yet. A little leisurely reading or watching YouTube videos on canning might be fun. The more planning now, the less stress later.

Here are some other great posts I found here on Frugal Granola that you’ll want to check out.

  1. Planting to Reap a Harvest: Growing and Preserving Foods with Kids
  2. Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Pickling Spice
  3. Edible Landscaping: Growing Food in the Flower Bed

How will you be preparing for your spring garden?

Holly is a wife to her loving husband, John, and a “mother” of 3 canine “children.” She loves sharing her faith, gardening, and fascination and appreciation of animals (birds, bats, butterflies, and the cute furry ones too) over at Your Gardening Friend.

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8 comments to Garden-Ready Checklist

  • Lori

    I think someone was trying to make sure I was awake…..”Garden & asses all gardening tools”??!! Probably should be “assess”. Thanks for the eye-opener & giggle this morning! :-)


    Michele Reply:

    Haha! Oops! :) Thanks, Lori!


  • Lori

    No thank you – this truly got me going this morning! I truly enjoy your site & all the recipes, tips & other sharing that you do. Please keep up the terrific work. Blessings in the New Year to you & your family!


  • Heather

    I didn’t realize that about the fresh mulch/wood chips. Good to know.


    Holly Reply:

    It could still serve a good purpose, though. It could be used in an area where you want to kill everything, like a pathway or underneath a swingset.


  • Holly, This is a very complete list to get started…wise words for all us gardeners :) I’m so glad you shared at Deep Roots!!


  • Debra E

    What do you use for a mulch then instead of wood chips? I have wood chips (wal-mart stuff) on my flower garden and just put freshly cut grass mulch on my veggie garden.


    Holly Reply:

    I use wood chips and mulch, too. Sorry, I should have been more specific. What I was referring to was not using fresh chipped wood, as in fresh out of the wood chipper. Some people own, borrow, or rent wood chippers to clear shrubs and trees. They’ll run the twigs and limbs through a chipper and end up with a pile of wood chips.


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