Ordering Plants: Planning The Spring Garden Begins In Winter

By Bonnie Grant | December 28, 2020
Image by lucigerma
by Bonnie Grant
December 28, 2020

The long, dark days of winter can really be a bummer. Something that always cheers me up is perusing seed catalogs and planning the spring garden. Just looking at the glossy catalogs with their bright pictures is a balm to my garden girl soul. I can daydream away the snow and ice with visions of flowers and vegetables dancing in my head.

Garden Planning Process

My new zone is something I’m having trouble getting used to. While not as snowy as some regions of the country, it is much colder than I am used to, and snow is an ever present reality. Ice storms, blizzards, and other ugly weather are commonplace in winter. Power outages, slippery roads, and other hazards are a daily threat. So when I have had enough of the chilly weather, I make a cup of tea and grab for my garden seed catalogs.

We save seeds of our favorite veggies, but there is always something new we want to try. Varieties of produce that can be planted early make the list. We can plant heat lovers my May but many other foods can be found in cultivars that will thrive even earlier. Selecting our vegetable garden plants is just part of the garden planning process. Seed catalogs are perused with the hunger associated with starving. I also graph out where everything will go and make plant stakes. That way I can ensure crop rotation and enough space for everything we want to grow.

Planning the spring garden is just one distraction. So is ordering plants. Most ship as soon as the weather has warmed up, but bare root plants arrive the earliest. These haven’t leafed out yet and are quite tolerant of shipping. But you have to get your order in or you may find there is no stock of that must have specimen. I already missed out on grapes last year because they were all gone by the time I remembered to order. Also, some of the bare root plants were leafing, such as the hardy almond I ordered. It didn’t survive its trip to my home. So timing for ordering plants is a priority this year.

Getting just the right summer blooming bulbs fills my brain with color and lush visions. Catalogs with bulbs and perennials are also devoured on a regular basis. Some will be ordered, while others can be sourced in person at a beautiful nursery nearby. Mundane items like seed trays and new garden gloves are also part of the shopping experience. It is in winter when we get potting soil, manure, and other soil amendments so they are close at hand once the ground is no longer frozen.

Once everything is designed, planned, and ordered, I try to get outside as much as possible. On semi-decent days, there are plants to prune, perennials to cut back, mulch to be lifted away from just starting bulbs, and roses to cut back. There are also omnipresent tumbleweeds to get rid of in the burn barrel, with the resulting ash added to the soil in the vegetable garden. In among all these tasks there is still plenty of time to tackle an indoor project or just sit around with a favorite book and relax before the busy gardening season arrives.

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