A guide for novice and learning gardeners.
After a long winter the time has finally come. Garden planning time.
One of the most time consuming but important parts of preparing for your garden takes place 12 weeks before the last frost in your area.
Where I live, in Green Bay, WI, the official Novice Gardener planting season begins on June 1st, after the last frost has come.
For those more experienced gardeners, we are aware that many of the traditional plants we want in our garden actually do best when planted in the early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked. Broccoli, Carrots, Kale and other plants grow best when planted outdoors 4-6 weeks before the last projected frost for our areas. Some plants need to be planted even sooner.
Other plants, such as Tomatoes, Egg Plants and ground cherries need to be planted indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost and then hardened off before they are transplanted directly into the soil.
No one ever taught me these specifics of gardening. When I first began gardening I just planted all my seeds in the ground on June 1st. Two years in, I began starting seeds indoors and did not harden them before moving them outside permanently. These mistakes resulted in poor crop turn out and garden disasters.
I finally started to have more success with my gardening once I made a detailed planting sheet for myself. Every year, during the first and second weeks of March, I take inventory of all of my seeds and make a document in which I list the types of plants, how tall and wide they will grow, soil needs, light needs and when to plant details. I use Excel to organize myself but any other medium will do.
This document allows me to know exactly when to plant my seeds and help me to figure out where to plant my seeds (I will give a guide to this in the next week) as well.
Making this list is very important. Often times people assume that if they have planted a carrot before they know how and when to plant carrots. The truth is that there are numerous types of carrots and many of them have planting times, soil needs, harvest times and spacing requirements that vary from the “typical” carrot. When making my list I not only look at the requirements listed on the package but also do some research on Google and other gardening sites to see what others have found to be the best ways to grow each specific variation of a species I am planting. Doing this is the way I can ensure the best growing conditions and turnout for my crop.
I am including the PDF list of what I am currently finalizing for my own 2021 garden below. I have included a few screen shots for those of you who are unable to download PDF’s. I hope this will assist you in beginning your own system for planning your own garden.