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Goodbye winter – Hello Spring! Soar through spring garden tasks easily using this free, printable spring gardening checklist. Easily get ahead of garden maintenance/tasks before spring ever arrives.
How do you prepare a vegetable garden for spring planting? This easy gardening checklist will simplify things, and you will have a “head start” on spring garden chores.
I love lists! I’m always making and using them for all my homestead projects. And this spring gardening checklist is no different. It’s full of great tips and ideas!
No gardens are ever alike, but, using this easy checklist, it’s sure to trigger certain things you need or want to get done in your home garden. Enjoy it!
Spring Gardening Checklist
Being prepared before spring planting time is key to a bountiful successful garden. So to get this year’s garden off to a good start, use these 13 simple tips to get you started.
Before you start making any physical changes in your garden or really even go outside, there are some things that should be taken care of first:
- Plan what you will grow. What does your family need? What will they eat? Is the pantry a bit scanty in some areas?
- Review last year’s garden notes in your journal. What worked, and what didn’t work? Keeping a garden journal works great for keeping records of seeds, planting dates, rainfall, etc. It’s impossible to remember from one year to the next exactly what you did. And it will save so much time and failure.
- Order Spring and Fall Seeds. Here’s a list of great seed catalogs that sell organic and heirloom seeds. My favorite company is Seeds for Generations.
- Know your planting zones and last spring frost dates to know when you can safely plant spring vegetables.
- Check the pricing of bulk compost and mulch. Can you pick it up for less, or what are the additional delivery fees?
- Draw and design any new garden space you will need. Put this in your journal.
2. Get A Soil Test
- If you have never had a soil test done or it has been a couple of years, I highly recommend you do so. You can get a test done at your local extension office for a nominal cost. And then, you will know what to add to have healthy garden soil.
3. Start Seeds Indoors
- Some seeds require a longer growth time to produce. Seeds such as broccoli, peppers, and cabbage will need to be started indoors. Use these 12 Steps to Starting Seeds Indoors to learn step by step all you need to know to start seeds indoors.
4. Cleanup Garden Space
- Clean up and remove debris from the garden area. Some plants are better left over the winter and then cleaned up in the spring. Carefully pay attention to garden spider eggs, praying mantis cocoons, and other beneficial insects for the garden. Leave these until warmer temperatures, and they have safely hatched.
- Check fencing perimeters for issues. Winter can cause serious issues with fencing. Give it a good-looking over and mend any areas that may be weak or allow predators in.
- Add needed organic amendments to improve soil quality needed from the results of the soil test.
5. Garden Tools and Equipment
- Look over all garden tools, giving them a good cleaning and sharpening, making sure they are in tip-top shape. Replace any that may be broken.
- TIP: Dirty tools can introduce bacteria to your plants, so a good cleaning will prevent disease spread. If your tools have wooden handles, rub them all down with linseed oil, I use this one to prevent cracks and splinters. If any show signs of rust, scrub them with distilled vinegar and a scouring pad.
- Get out garden hoses, and set up rain barrels and irrigation systems to maintain adequate watering levels when rainfall is down.
- Reorganize the garden shed and list what tools and equipment you may need to add this year, if any.
- Inventory organic liquid and pelleted fertilizers like fish emulsion, seaweed, and trace minerals to see what you need to stock up on.
6. Check Over Plant Supports and Such
- Closely check all tomato supports, trellises, and other plant supports to ensure they are in good sturdy order. Over the winter, they could have been crushed by objects being piled on top of them. Install these in the garden where you will need them.
- Make notes to purchase any additional supports and containers you will need.
7. Inventory Supplies
There is nothing worse than being all excited to finally be working in the garden and going to grab some supplies, only to find the container empty.
- Take a good inventory and stock up on all supplies. Twine, buckets, garden tools, netting, fertilizers, etc., that you will need for the season. An unplanned trip to the garden center isn’t fun when you are all prepared to get dirty in the garden.
8. Evaluate Compost Pile
- Start turning compost 2-3 times a week to wake it up and reactivate it.
- Most likely, the pile has been neglected over the winter. So, give it a good turn and check to see if any of it is ready to be put in the garden. Remember, healthy soil is critical to an abundant garden.
9. Inspect Raised Beds Walls
If you don’t garden in raised beds, this will not pertain to you. But for those of us who do, winter can be really hard on garden walls.
- Closely inspect all garden walls for weak spaces, rotted wood, or bowed sides. Replace them immediately. Since I garden organically, my garden walls are made of untreated wood, so they have to be replaced occasionally. Winter storms, snow, or soggy soil can wreak havoc on raised bed walls.
- Related: Learn how to build simple raised beds cheap!
10. Turn Under Cover Crops
Cover crops are an easy way to feed microbes and keep garden soil healthy over the winter.
- If you planted a cover crop in the fall, now is the time to turn it under. Or feed it to your chickens.
- Once it is turned under, top dress garden beds with 1-2 inches of compost. This will give the garden a good fresh layer of nutrient-filled organic matter and help improve soil quality for plants to absorb nutrients and grow. Do this a minimum of 2 weeks prior to planting any seeds.
11. Cultivate The Soil
- If the soil was left uncovered over winter, pounding rains and heavy snow will cause garden soil to become compacted. This makes it difficult for plants to grow deep roots and get needed nutrients.
- If you garden in raised beds, using a broad fork or digging fork to break up soil is an excellent way to aerate and give microbes and worms a good boost for spring. And it helps to build organic structure too.
- Be careful not to “step or walk” on your planting area. Your body weight will compact the soil even more. If forking raised beds, walk on frame sides.
12. Apply Organic Fertilizers
- Spring is a great time to amend the soil with organic fertilizers. Shallow-rooted plants like lettuce and mescaline will do fine with a toss of worm castings spread onto the top of the soil.
- Deeper-rooted plants such as tomatoes, peppers, and green beans can benefit from good fertilizers and organic amendments added into the individual holes and rows they are planted in.
13. Be Prepared to Protect Seedlings
- Knowing the last expected frost date in your area is vital information when spring planting. Because it is predicted no more frost will happen, it is only a prediction.
- If you have seedlings that have sprouted and a cold night is expected, have buckets, cardboard boxes, plastic jugs, and frost covers available to cover them for protection. This will save them from frostbite and getting killed.
Being well-prepared for the spring planting season is an important part of having a successful spring garden. Being cooped up all winter is bad, and when warmer weather finally arrives, it is easy to get too anxious and waste a lot of necessary money.
By mapping out your garden and following these tips in this spring gardening checklist, your spring will be off to a great start!
What tips do you have for getting ready for springtime gardening? Please share in the comments below.
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Dianne Hadorn is the owner of Hidden Springs Homestead nestled in the hills of East Tennessee. She is a Master Gardener and enjoys helping others learn how to grow and preserve their own food and sharing tips for living a more self-sufficient lifestyle.