What You Can Do Now To Prepare For Your Spring Garden

Yes we are at the end of October, but it is never too early to start prepping for the coming season. You may still have your autumn garden or you may have just put your garden to rest for the cold winter season. Tackling some of these garden tasks now will pay of in the coming season. These tasks are listed in no particular order. You can do all of them or pick and choose what works for you right now and what can wait until spring. The more you do now though, the more ahead you will be!

  • After a hard frost remove all dead plant remnants from your garden beds by cutting them at soil level with a hori hori knife or pruner. You can leave flowers that have gone to seed for birds and other garden visitors. I always leave one section of the garden wild for all the garden creatures until late spring so that anyone living in the debris can come out of hiding with the warmer temperatures.
  • Chop up any plants you cut out of the garden and add to your compost bin. Do not compost anything that was diseased, call it a loss on those plants and bag up the diseased plants and toss them in the garbage. 
  • Rake up any leaves that you may have and start a leaf mold pile. It takes many, many months, (12+) to break down, so start this season. You can make a “bin” with some chicken wire and ties to make a 3 foot in diameter bin. Then toss the leaves in. You can mow over or chop/shred the leaves before adding to the bin to help speed up the break down. If you don’t have a bin or want to make one, you can also just bag up the leaves, poke holes in the bag for air circulation and let the bags sit in an out of the way spot in the garden on the ground.
  • Do one last weeding session, you can compost any weeds that have not gone to seed and toss the ones that have unless you are sure your compost pile will get hot enough to kill the weed seeds. To be safe I avoid composting any weeds that have gone to seed and carefully discard them. (Ideally you want to take care of any weeds before they have gone to seed so this isn’t an issue, but sometimes you find a few hiding in the garden that you missed.)
  • Organize any seeds you have saved from the past growing year. You will want to do this as you harvest seeds, but if you haven’t now is a great time for this task. Label your container with the name of the seeds, the year harvested and any growing info you feel is important to remember. Then store seeds in a cool dark place, I keep mine in a closet in picture holder cases, jars, envelopes, etc.
  • Clean and sharpen all garden tools, take note of any that need repair. You can either repair them now or replace them so that you are ready to go in the coming season. I spray my tools with a peroxide solution after thoroughly washing them with soap and water. Then I store them for winter.
  • If you are not using your row covers or season extension covers anymore, store them for winter somewhere safe. (Where rodents won’t make a home in them, I keep mine in a big locking plastic garden storage box that doubles as a bench.)
  • Wash and sanitize any pots or containers that might break with fluctuations in temperatures or store them in a spot that will have consistent temperatures above freezing. (Clay, ceramic, terracotta, etc.) 
  • Clean and sanitize seed starting supplies, trust me on this one, you definitely want to do this before the next season starts.
  • Go over your garden journal from this past season and make updates where needed. Add notes about what worked well, what didn’t. 
  • Make a list seeds you want to purchase when seed catalogs come out. 
  • Possibly create a new garden master plan if you made changes from your last one, like new beds, etc.
  • If you have the space, plan out how you are going to do crop rotation for the coming season. 
  • Set up, if needed, your indoor growing station if you plan to grow anything indoors over winter. 
  • Make sure your garlic is well mulched.
  • Add compost to all garden beds and turn or tumble compost pile and check moisture level.
  • Add a good layer of compost to any plants you are overwintering.

There is more you can do to prepare, but this is a good place to get started. As I said earlier, you can pick and choose what to now and what you want to do in the spring. The more you do now, the better off you will be to start your garden in the coming season.  As the seasons pass by, you will find your rhythm with these tasks and learn what works best for you. 

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