If you only have a limited amount of time to spend on your garden, it can be easy for your weekends to become a never-ending series of gardening tasks. It’s not enjoyable when gardening becomes an overwhelming chore instead of a enjoyable hobby. Let’s learn how to create a custom garden calendar so you can feel more organized and in control of your gardening tasks.
What is a Planting Calendar?
A planting calendar is a schedule that tells you what to plant and when to plant it depending on your location. It usually uses frost dates to determine when to sow seeds and when to transplant seedlings.
Planning ahead by creating a schedule will allow you to have more free time to enjoy your garden rather than being bogged down by constant work.
You can adjust it to your needs.
Here are the steps to take to create your customized garden calendar:
Create a List of Gardening Goals
False. You should only dream small because if you dream big you will be disappointed when you don’t accomplish everything on your list.
You may have big goals, like:
Also consider smaller goals you want to accomplish, like:
- get 2 good harvests of tomatoes
- provide food and shelter for pollinators
- grow enough cut flowers to harvest the world’s best bouquet for Mother’s Day
There is no task that is too big or small, so plan for your large goals by using a full sheet and breaking them down into smaller goals. For your smaller goals, just list them on one page.
Determine the Start and End Dates of Your Gardening Season
To figure out your frost dates, you will need to know the average date of the first or last light freeze that occurs in spring or fall.
2013-14 Frost Dates You can find your local frost date using the Farmer’s Almanac website. Just put in your zip code to determine your (1) last spring frost date and (2) first fall frost date. It can also be helpful to jot down (3) the length of your growing season, especially if you want to get multiple harvests.
Keep in mind that estimated frost dates are just a guide, and there are many factors that contribute to frost. The Farmer’s Almanac says that their calculator is accurate about 70% of the time.
It is a good idea to wait a week or two after the estimated frost date to plant, and to have materials on hand to cover or protect your plants if there is a late spring or early fall frost.
Addressing Warmer (No-Frost) Climates
This article will show you how to use a frost-date calculator to help plan your garden, even if you live in a frost-free climate.
If you live in a warm climate with a long growing season, it is just as important to create a plan as it is in a cooler climate. This is because you can have multiple harvests in one season. However, when temperatures get very warm it can be very stressful for both you and your plants.
One way to resolve the problem of the hot weather is to take a break during the most extreme heat.
To figure out when to start and end your gardening tasks around your heat wave, choose a start and end period for your heat wave that works for you. Next, create lists of tasks to do:
- Near the end of your heat wave (pre season)
- Your early, mid and late growing season
- At the beginning of your heat wave (post season)
Create a Growing List
When creating a gardening calendar, its very helpful to decide what plants you plan to grow during the season ahead of time. This allows you to better plan your garden space & make the most of the growing season.
Plant a kitchen garden List out all the plants you would like to grow in your kitchen garden. Then, using seed packets and/or your experience, note down the sow dates and germination periods for each plant.
The Farmer’s Almanac Vegetable Planting Calendar can be used to help determine when to sow each vegetable. It provides dates to start sowing indoors, when to plant seedlings or transplants, and dates to start outdoor sowing. It can be a helpful resource!
Once you know the number of days it takes for each plant to mature, you can plug them into your custom gardening calendar. You can even work backwards to determine when you can sow and plant a second (or third) crop of your favorites! Knowing these dates ahead of time will help you get even more harvest cycles into your growing season.
If you are new to gardening with vegetables, this guide will help you select some vegetables to grow in cooler weather.
It’s a good idea to grow crops that do well in your region and that you or your family will enjoy and that are high in nutrition.
The USDA produce guide provides information on produce that is available by season. You can use the guide to find out when specific crops are in season in your area. The guide includes information on when the produce is available after harvesting.
If there are many small local farms in the area, it may be a better idea to focus on crops that cannot be bought from them. Different crops grow better in different regions, so it is a good idea to grow crops that do well where the farm is located. It may be a good idea to grow heirloom varieties or expensive fruits and vegetables that are not bought regularly because they are too costly. However, if someone is new to gardening, it is always a good idea to start with crops that are easy to grow and will produce a lot, such as zucchini, tomatoes, onions, and cabbage. Having a few successful crops will build confidence.
When Should I Plant?
The best time to plant seeds ultimately depends on your planting zone, what season the crop thrives in, and how long it takes the crop to come to maturity. Most zones should plant in spring or early fall. However, there are hardier vegetables like potatoes and other tubers that can last through the winter in some areas, especially if you cover them with layers of insulating mulch before the first frost. And fruits and vegetables that do well in hot weather can sometimes be planted in the summer.
If you have seed packets at home, you might notice that some of them contain information about hardiness zones, planting and harvesting times, how long they might take to be ready for harvest, and other important growing information. This can help you plan your planting calendar.
The amount of time it takes to grow vegetables can range from a few weeks to a few months. If you want to be able to feed your family regularly, you should plant as soon as possible. By following the seed specifications, you can make sure you have the longest possible growing season.
Plant Indoors or Outdoors.
Different seeds have different needs in terms of where they should be planted. Some seeds need to be planted indoors in order to germinate properly, while others can be planted directly in the ground. By consulting a planting calendar, you can figure out which method is best for the seeds you’re planting.
By starting your seeds indoors, you can have your plants ready to go as soon as the last frost arrives The main advantage of growing seeds indoors is that you can control the environment. Your seedlings are not at the mercy of the weather and have a better chance of surviving. Starting seeds indoors also allows you to get a head start on the growing season, which is especially beneficial if you live in an area with a short growing season. By starting your seeds indoors, you can have your plants ready to go as soon as the last frost arrives.
Some ways you can grow seeds indoors are:
- By using grow lights
- In a greenhouse
- In containers on a sunny windowsill
You should start your seeds six to eight weeks before you plan to transplant them if you want to start them indoors. Some plants don’t do well when they are disturbed after being planted, so it’s best not to transplant them. These plants typically have sensitive roots and include beets, carrots, and turnips.
After you have planted your seeds and they have grown into seedlings, you can transplant them into the ground or keep them in a container garden. When transplanting, it is important to pack the dirt around the seedling tightly. This will prevent air pockets from forming, which can stop the flow of water and nutrients. Without water and nutrients, the young roots will not be able to grow in their new environment.
In general, it is easier for seeds to germinate and the process happens more quickly when it is warmer. Therefore, it is best to start seeds outdoors in warmer climates where the growing season is longer. Or during the warmer part of the year in colder planting zones (such as when planting summer vegetables).
Planting your seeds directly into the soil is the best method for planting fast-growing and early season veggies like lettuce, kale, and beans.
Make sure to check if the crop you want to transplant is easily transplantable. You can find this information on the seed packet or plant calendar. When you do transplant crops, “harden them off” before planting them in the ground. To harden them off, expose the seedlings to outdoor conditions gradually. This means slowing down watering and controlling the amount of light they receive throughout the day. Although it may seem counterintuitive, excessively coddled seedlings often don’t turn into healthy adult plants.
In other words, I hope this article helped you understand how to make a gardening calendar that works specifically for you and your garden. Planning ahead will help you save time so you can relax and enjoy your garden more. Having a plan will also help you feel less stressed and more in control of your gardening.
If you want to create a gardening plan that is specifically tailored to your needs, you need to set some goals and figure out your last spring and first fall frost dates. Once you have that information, you can start scheduling tasks for different times of the year, such as pre-season, early season, mid-season, late season, and post-season. Make sure to include sow dates for your favorite plants, as well as dates for when you need to buy new seeds and bulbs. You should also include reminders to purchase mulch, flowers, and other gardening supplies.
If you live in a warmer climate, you can still create a customized gardening plan. Instead of basing your gardening tasks around frost dates, you can base them around the hottest period. This is your downtime to get ready for your next growing season and wrap up any chores from the current growing season. If you have any tips to share, I’d love to hear them.