Planning your spring garden in January
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Planning your spring garden in January

As the chilly winds of January whistle through the leafless trees and a blanket of snow envelops the landscape, it's hard to imagine that springtime is just around the corner. But don't let the cold and dreary weather fool you – now is the perfect time to shake off those winter blues, whip out your gardening gloves, and start planning your flourishing, vibrant spring garden. We know what you're likely thinking: "Why would I start planning my spring garden in January?" The simple answer is that doing so lets you carefully map out the rejuvenating space you will soon enjoy, giving your plants the best possible start to bloom beautifully as the weather warms. So, let's dim those January gray skies by peeking ahead into the bright, blossoming world of your future spring haven!


1. Regroup & Refresh: Take Stock & Plan

January is pivotal for garden planning and preparation, providing breathing room for taking stock and planning before the busy springtime hits. Regroup and refresh by pulling out the garden journal and making notes about what happened in the previous year and what to focus on in 2020. Take inventory of garden tools and supplies and make a wish/must-have list for the new year. Repurpose and reuse DIY projects with pallets or ladders to create raised beds and trellises. Get organized by planning seed orders, cleaning pottery, and committing to a storage system for seed packets. Clean garden tools, make necessary repairs, and sharpen blades before planting seeds indoors or micro-greens on the kitchen counter. Pour over seed catalogs and make a master garden plan, observing changing light patterns to prepare for spring. Harvest winter crops, plan new garden spaces, and add soil amendments for a successful garden year. 


2. Garden Growth: Repurpose & Reuse DIY Projects

G Growth: Repurpose & Reuse DIY Projects

In January, gardeners can start planning for their spring garden and think about ways to reuse and repurpose items to create a unique and sustainable garden. Map out the size of your garden on graph paper and consider what plants will thrive in your climate. But don't forget about using recycled materials in your DIY garden projects! For example, old pallets can be disassembled and transformed into a vertical garden. And when it comes to spacing out your plants, you can use the Mel Bartholomew method to make the most out of your raised bed garden by dividing the space into 1-foot squares. Planning your garden and repurposing materials can create a beautiful and eco-friendly outdoor space. 


3. Get Organized: Plan Seed Orders & Clean Pottery

To plan a spring garden, getting organized is key. One method is to group seeds by date and type of planting. A cover sheet with the date can be used to label each group of seeds, and laminated dividers can be made for easy organization year after year. Another helpful tool is a color-coded planting schedule that outlines what needs to be started, how it will be started, and when. While spreadsheets are useful, grouping actual seeds based on the start method creates a grab-and-go system that is more efficient. By mid-January, seed and plant catalogs are arriving in the mail, making it the perfect time to start planning and ordering seeds for a successful spring garden. 


4. Clean Up: Take Care of Garden Tools & Supplies

Gardeners should begin cleaning up in January to prepare for a bustling spring growing season. According to Healthy Fresh Homegrown, it's a good idea to create a checklist of all the tasks needed for a spring garden cleanup to keep track of everything. These tasks include removing dead plant matter, composting vegetables that got frost damage, and adding soil amendments. It's also important to test and repair sprinkler and irrigation systems, remove winter mulch or protection, and clean up tools and supplies. As an Amazon Associate, Spring Garden Clean Up Checklist & Cleaning Tips suggests using a checklist to tackle cleaning and set your garden up for success. Despite the work involved, remember that a spring garden cleanup can help ensure a strong garden and healthy plants all season. 


5. Plant: Start Seeds Indoors & Micro-Greens

January is the perfect time to start planning your spring garden, and one of the most important tasks is starting seeds indoors. The zone 5 planting schedule recommends starting sweet potatoes on January 15, followed by tomatoes and flowers intended for Mother's Day gifts in February, and lettuce, spinach, kale, beets, and radishes in March. Starting these crops indoors will give them a head start while protecting them from harsh weather conditions. It's also a great way to ensure a successful garden come spring. For those who miss the planting window or would prefer not to start their seeds, Ellie's Eden offers high-quality organic plant starts from March through May. 


6. January is Seed Catalog Month: Pour Over Catalogs

In January, it's time to start planning for your garden's future. Please take advantage of the slower pace of the month and use it as an opportunity to regroup and refresh. Review last year's experience and start jotting down notes on what you want to see happen in the new year. Take stock of your garden tools and supplies and make a wish/must-have list. Plan for the upcoming season, list new seeds and place your order. Take care of those garden tools, make necessary repairs, sharpen blades, and oil moving parts. Ensure that your seed packets are properly stored, and go through your tools and products to see what needs updating, replacing, or repairing. Plan for new garden spaces and observe the changing light patterns that winter brings. 


7. Make a Master Plan: Plan New Garden Spaces

When a spring garden, making a master plan is essential. A settled garden area, a sunny plot, and a general layout are important before starting. To make a comprehensive plan, keep records of each crop's seeds, quantity, and yield, and note what variety your family enjoyed the most to use as a guide for the following year. Using a garden planner is another helpful tip, as it can assist in predicting when to start seeds and forecast harvests. Map the gardening area, noting sunlight hours, soil types, and plant requirements. Researching plants to avoid incompatibilities, creating a budget, and purchasing necessary supplies in advance are also important tasks to ensure a successful spring garden.


8. Observe Changing Light Patterns: Prepare for Spring

As late winter approaches, it's time to observe and prepare for the changing light patterns in your spring garden. According to, a quick checklist of essential tasks to get your garden ready includes cleaning and sterilizing your gardening equipment, sharpening tools, and servicing your lawn mower. Additionally, pruning for structure and shape, promoting airflow and light, and removing inward growth are all essential tasks for healthy trees and shrubs. While some plants should not be pruned during this period, it's a perfect time to plant new trees and shrubs in cooler weather. By completing these tasks in January, you'll be ready to hit the ground running when it's time to plant your spring garden.


9. Harvest Winter Crops: Beet, Spinach, Swiss Chard

Gardeners should focus on regrouping, refreshing, and planning for the upcoming spring season. Take stock of tools and supplies, map out garden goals, and plan seed orders. This is also the perfect time to start DIY projects, such as repurposing pallets into raised beds and turning old ladders into trellises. Gardeners should organize by planning seed orders and committing to a storage system for seed packets. Clean and oil garden tools to keep them in good condition. Plant micro-greens indoors for winter salads and start seeds indoors, if necessary, depending on your zone. January is the month for seed catalogs, so pour over them and list new seeds to try.


10. Garden Maintenance Tasks: Cut Back Dead Plant Matter & Add Soil Amendments

January is the perfect time to plan for your spring garden. One important task is to cut back dead plant matter and add soil amendments. These tasks are crucial to get the best results during the rest of the year. Prune trees and shrubs by no more than one-third to remain healthy and vigorous. The cool weather of early spring allows transplants the time they need to acclimate to their new environment before summer heat sets in. Apply mulch to suppress weeds, reduce erosion, and insulate the soil from the summer heat. Removing winter protection too early can cause problems for plants, so it's important to wait until all danger of a hard freeze is over before starting spring cleanup. Finally, take a soil test using a home test kit to determine the nutrient level of your soil and pH.

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