DIY Garden Tips: The Garden Calendar

USDA Hardiness Zones in North America

Image via Wikipedia

From cleaning up winter detritus to closing down the gardens in autumn, we gardeners are continuously busy once spring arrives. A garden calendar will help keep you on track, ensuring all the garden tasks that need tending get done on time.

Start by making lists of garden activities, organizing them by category: seed starting and transplanting, lawn and tree care, and harvest.  Know your U.S.D.A. Hardiness Zone and the dates of the last spring frost and first autumn frost in your area. Life in the garden revolves around these dates.

Assign the date for each task.  In my zone 5A garden, Mother’s Day weekend is the transplant date for tender plants, while cool weather crops go out almost a month earlier. Prepare tools and purchase supplies in the early spring, just before the growing season begins. Flowering bushes are pruned as soon as their blossoms fade, weeding is done weekly, and special projects are scheduled during lulls in between the planting frenzy and the beginning of harvest.

If you are starting seeds indoors, calculate the sowing dates.  Seed packets recommend the ideal amount of time to sow prior to transplant. Record these dates on your garden calendar. Some plants are best seeded directly in the garden; record these dates as well. List each plant you plan to grow and record its sowing date.

Record planting dates for seedlings. All plants do best when soil and moisture levels have reached appropriate levels. If you plant too soon, the soil won’t be warm enough and will still hold too much water from the winter thaw. Pansies, for example, can be transplanted much earlier than tomato seedlings. Plants that you purchase from a nursery are generally made available at the appropriate planting time, but check with the seller to be sure.

Record the expected harvest dates for your herbs and vegetables. Herbs can be harvested throughout the season, as can indetermine producers such as cucumbers and some tomatoes. Seed packets and plant information labels will tell you approximately how many days until harvest.

Finally, choose the best method for you to keep track of your important dates. Large wall calendars work well for some people, while pocket calendars or simple chronological lists work for others. Be sure to save everything, because this will be a very useful reference as you plan the next year’s garden calendar.

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