Garden Planning: Sunshine for the Dark Days of Winter

Winter can be difficult. Especially if you live far enough north where the sun seems like it’s already disappearing in September.

It’s January now and here in Montana we have to talk ourselves out of looking around the corner to spring.

The calendar might think it knows when Spring starts, but it’s wrong. Just when you feel some warm sunshine on your cheek and your hopes start to rise, BOOM! A blizzard and subzero temps return. And not for the day either. It’s like Jack Frost is trying to win over his lady friend and Father Winter gave him until flipping June! I seriously have friends who’ve lost entire potato crops on like June 13th or something.

Sorry, I’m sure we’re not unique and that you have your own annoying weather anomalies too. Anyways, we do have this one ray of sunshine: dreaming.

Ooooh, am I a dreamer! (All of the locals roll their eyes and say ohmahgoodness, is she!)

Garden dreaming is unique because there is almost no end to it. There are so many aspects of gardening that between planning and projects, a person could stay busy for months. Although, I personally start to lose motivation after too long without much sunshine. This girl needs her vitamin D and fresh air!

Here’s a list of 11 ideas to keep you cheerfully busy this winter.

  1. Dream about the finished product. Draw, doodle, paint, use an online layout tool or just your imagination. We’ve even given legos a try! Pinterest can be helpful (or harmful.) Imagine your dream garden! Just remember it takes time to build it and dreaming will remain happy.
  2. Shop for seeds. Pick a manageable amount and (mostly) verieties suitable to your space, time and experience.
  3. Make a planting schedule. Sometimes it’s tempting to jump straight to the layout. But you don’t want to find that you’ve placed a frost hardy plant right in the way early on, making to difficult to plant some of your more tender plant friends. I’ll write a post soon on how to do this!
  4. Plan your layout. Whether you plant in ground, above ground, in a season extender or in the field, a little planning goes a LONG way. There is a lot of information out there on this but the truth is, no one will have the perfect answer for you. Your garden is unique and one of the beautiful parts of growing (especially in a sustainable way) is getting to know the your unique piece earth that you get to be steward of. Things to consider include sun/shade, water levels, soil type and make sure your plants get along with their neighbors 🙂
  5. Plan irrigation. Laying out your drip system, hoses & sprinklers or other watering system is a massive job all on its own. I hate it, which is why I’m hoping my friend gets back from her yearly migration soon enough to share in the misery. Supposedly she likes this sort of thing!
  6.  If you still haven’t gotten your fill of garden fantasies, you can build raised beds or…
  7. Build a cold frame.
  8. Seedling trays. I would personally love to build a few wooden seed starting trays. No matter the work/storage increase, I will ALWAYS prefer a natural material over plastic.
  9. Grow onions from seed. Onions get started like waaaayyyyy early when you grow them from seed. So if you’re really itching to get started, onions are safe! Check out this great blog for more info!
  10. My very practical husband said you could sharpen shovels, oil handles etc. He must’ve given me at least three more examples but I stopped remembering when they started sounding like work 🙂 I know one of them was to…
  11. Build your own tool handles. I could handle a little time at the lathe myself.

I hope this has given you a thing or two to keep your mind off of dreariness! I’d love to hear your favorite winter blues buster and (be a dear) don’t forget to subscribe!

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