By Kevin Feinstein
There are many things that can be done in the winter season to get ready for spring planting. Winter is the time to “get your ducks in a row.”
1. Order seeds and plants. If you don’t already have all the seeds you or plants you’ll need, now is the time to secure them. Don’t wait until it’s time to plant, they might be out of stock or hard to find. Many things such as potatoes or sweet potato slips, you can pre-order.
2. Have any soil amendments such as fertilizers already purchased and ready to go.
3. Know where your source of mulch or compost will be coming from. This is a good time of the year to speak to someone at your local mulch yard for instance as they are not crazy busy. Ask them about how they make their compost, what’s in it, etc, if you don’t already know this.
4. Work on structures or hardscapes. Building a chicken coop? Raised beds? Trellises? This is a good time to do this – before spring.
5. Write down your goals for this spring’s planting. You probably won’t be able to plant everything you want, so think about which plants are the most important for you.
6. Prune fruit trees and vines. Most fruit trees, especially the stone fruits (peaches, plums, cherries, apricots, etc), and the pomme fruits (apple, pears, quince) must be winter/dormant season pruned to be healthy. Grapes and kiwi vines are the same.
7. Get some book learning in. When the weather warms up and you get your experiential learning on, you may not have time to read up on gardening and growing, so take advantage of your time now for this.
8. Plant a cover crop. If your soil is bare due to winter kill or lack of planning in the fall, consider planting a cold hardy cover crop such as vetch, clover, or rye.
9. Create a plan for your planting. Make a map of your garden beds and what you intend to plant in them. Run this by an expert such as our designers at Food Forest Abundance if you need to.
10. Tool shed check in. Do you have the tools you need for this year’s growing season? If not, secure them now before they may sell out. This is a great time to clean and sharpen your tools as well.
Bonus Tip! Start seeds indoors. If you have an indoor space where you can start seeds early, this can be of great advantage. Things like peppers, tomatoes as well as starting your own sweet potato slips need to be done in this manner. Cool season spring crops, such as cabbage or kale, although likely hardy out in the ground, need seeds to be started indoors in the late winter early spring in many climates.