What you can DO NOW to prepare for your spring garden!

Mid-winter blues hit hard in your home this year? Well, the good news is that spring is right around the corner, only 35 days and counting. Just because you can't get your hands in the dirt just yet doesn't mean that there aren't things you need to be doing now to prepare for your spring and summer gardens!

As you explore the back roads here in Ohio's Amish Country through the spring and summer months big and beautiful gardens are not hard to find, but even if you don't have the space or time to have a garden that will feed a family of 10 doesn't mean that gardening isn't for you!

Step one: Know your zone and frost free date! It seems like this might be too obvious, but probably the most important part of winter planing for your spring and summer gardens is a good time-line and in order to do that you must know what region you live in and what planting zone your region of the country falls into. Just knowing that you "live in the midwest" isn't enough! planting zones can even vary within the same state. For us here in Ohio's Amish Country we are in planting zone six and our frost free date is between April 20th - 25th. To find out what planting zone you fall into CLICK HERE.

Step two: Make a plan! Are you interested in planting a flower garden or a vegetable garden? Do you have in-ground space available or are you going to plant in containers? Taking the time now to think about the type of garden you'd like, the size that you can reasonably take care of, and what specific things you'd like to grow will save you from overwhelmed impulse buys later when you're in your local nursery or seed isle. No matter what planting zone you live in you will need to decide now if you are going to start your seeds indoors or buy small plants from a local nursery later on in the season. Starting seeds indoors is a much more money-wise decision but it does require more planning to make sure that your seedlings are large enough to transplant once spring eventually arrives!

Step three: Snow permitting, clean out your beds.  Depending on how early the slow flies in the fall you may or may not have had a good chance to clean your beds out from last year. You can do this in the winter, if you don't have snow on the ground and are blessed with a heat-wave and get a day or two where it's not too cold to work outside. Things like, cutting back ornamental grasses, making sure heavy blankets of the fall leaves are cleaned out, especially in poor draining areas, and cutting back the remains of perennial plants, or pruning run away vines that have spread to areas that you don't want them to grow are all chores that can be done in late-winter.

Step Four: Find, clean, and store your gardening tools and supplies. Inspect all your gardening tools and supplies from shovels and tomato cages. If you are new to gardening, you can start now to acquire some of the basic tools you will need so you don't need to buy them all at once later in the season. Give garden tools a good scrubbing with something fairly abrasive (like an SOS pad) to remove clumped dry dirt or rust. After cleaning tools, lightly oil metal parts and store plunged into a bucket of sand to prevent future rust.

Step Five: Seeds to start inside during the month of February! Although it is still a little early to start most seeds indoors there are a few things that you should start indoors during the last couple weeks of February! Early/Late season "cool" crops like: broccoli, artichokes, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, celery, leeks, kale, onion and parsley. If you have never planed strawberries before and are interested in having a small patch you can start strawberries indoors in February, as well!

Hopefully some of these late-winter chores will help tide-you-over until spring has officially sprung! Make sure to stay tuned here at The Amish Country Almanac for more spring gardening articles! If you liked this article, please share it with your friends on facebook or pin in to your favorite spring or gardening pinboard on pinterest!
Thanks for reading!