...but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life...(Prov. 13:12)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Gardening 101 January: Planning & Prepping

Gardening 101 January: Planning & Prepping...

Starting a garden and growing your own crops can be a bit overwhelming and I think that is why I never tried it til a couple of years ago but NOW I realize how quite simple it is!
So as we go into December and even into the first weeks of January, the first thing you want to start doing as far as getting ready to garden is checking things off your "to do" list! I have helped you out and got you started with what is on my list during this time of the year. Check out more of how to get started below!

First off here are two books I am using this year. 

This one goes based on YOUR last frost date and is also a good timeline tool to know what to do when. 
Another book I like is this one and it is specific to my area which is the Pacific Northwest.

1. ZONING: Not sure what to plant and when to start? First you want to know what seeds are meant to be grown in your area. I have added a guide below and if you click on your zone it will direct you to the seeds for your zone specifically! Each Zone has a seed list along with instructions on how to plant and when to plant. Easy right? Yep! 

Find what zone you are in based on the map below...

Quick links to seeds for each zone:
2. MAKE YOUR SEED LIST: Make a seed list: The first year I only planted things that I knew I would eat for sure and I do know that the more I garden the more that list grows because you can't beat fresh produce! It tastes so much better!

*The two places I recommend for the best seeds are Seedsnow and Mary's Heirloom Seeds. They are Non-GMO, Heirloom, Untreated, and Organic Seeds! Can't get much better than that! *

3.  LEARN ABOUT YOUR SEEDS: Figure out what seeds are warm crops and cool crops and learn more about the seeds you are planting. Do your seeds prefer direct sown into the grown or have starts going before putting into the main garden space?

I personally grow most of mine in the "direct sown" way, which is seeds directly into the garden ground, but I will be experimenting more with my greenhouse this garden season and sprouting my own seeds earlier than usual to get a head start. I suggest if you are new that you direct sow your seeds as most crops prefer this however if their maturity date is long you might not get the full benefit of the crop.

If you have a greenhouse and extra seeds then do both routes! (This is my plan)

4. YOUR GARDEN MAP: Figure by drawing out a garden "Map" to know which crops will do best where in your garden space. Watch the sun as it will move as we get closer to spring.

5. SOIL TESTING: Then start soil testing! This is a cheap expense and worth doing so you know how acidic your soil is and what plants will do best where.  This is what I use and I like the guide with it which tells you how acidic your soil needs to be for which crops.

6. ADDING NUTRIENTS: Depending on what your tests come out to be you might want to add some "manure" compost, whether this is chicken manure (Needs to sit for at least 6 months before putting with crops or they will burn), Rabbit manure along with sheep, horse, cattle can all be put on right away. If you compost then also add those ingredients as well. I always till up all my components I add before starting the garden season. (Composting Guide Here)

7. UTILIZING ALL GARDEN SPACES: You can plant in almost anything from containers (as long as they have a drainage holes), to a gutter garden, raised beds and direct sowing into the ground. I have garden areas all over my property, even in my chicken run I have a gutter garden.

Here are some of my own personal images of my different garden areas...
 Grow Potatoes in Pallets
(Heat Treated Only)

Flowers and herbs

Raised Beds

Wine Barrels
(Great for herb and lettuce plants)

Gutter Gardens
(Great for lettuce, smaller root vegies and herbs)

I am addicted to it, so much so that I grow year round! If you want to try your hand at growing anything from a container of crops to a full acre plus of crops it can be pretty simple once you figure a few things out. I started this guide as kind of a "start here first" guide for gardening. I hope it helps you in succeed with your garden this year!

Do what you feel comfortable and then expand a little more each year! What I grew in my garden my first year has now become my full Herb Garden and I went and created another space for other non herb crops. I have a feeling I will be expanding a little more each year and that is why gardening is fun. You can make it as big or as little as you want.

Think you don't have enough space? Check this out!

1/10 of an acre garden plotting!

8. GARDEN TOOLS & EQUIPMENT: Make sure you have all your gardening tools! I like a good wheelbarrow and you also want to have one hand some "remay" (Remay is for covering of some of your crops so the pesky bugs dont land on your crops. Will discuss this more in a later post)

That is your "to do" list for December and on into January! If you have done all this you are right on track for a happy and healthy garden!! I have noted some other helpful tips below so don't stop reading now! You might learn even more!!

This isn't needed if you are not starting seeds in a greenhouse, but if you want to sow some seeds indoors you want to get some Seed Starting Soil Pellets.

I use these and they are great! You don't have to transplant and mess up any rooting system as they grow and you plant right into the ground. I found that you don't need to water them too much either.
If you don't have the space indoors why not purchase something like this and put anywhere you want? I use mine on the back deck...
Check Out Other Greenhouse Options Below: 
Greenhouses From Small to Large: Great for Seed Starting
The other one I have for growing "warmer" crops is this one and it helps me grow more tomatoes, peppers etc and do some winter gardening as well due to I live in the Pacific Northwest (Zone 8). Yep this is my actual image of my greenhouse!
Click Here For Recommended
Books for Greenhouse Gardening
Seed Suggestions: There are so many seed options so I am showing the packets that are meant for each season of gardening. This is great for beginners and does save you some money and time!  

Want just a sample of a few seeds? Check Out the .99 cent option!

So, hopefully this has gotten you started and excited about gardening this year! Let me know if there is anything else you would like to see or need help with! Feel free to comment below or email me! I try and post tips that have helped me on this gardening journey.

Check out my other posts about gardening here and follow along with me! 

Happy Gardening!


  1. I love this, thanks - I have it in my bookmarks now! I giggled a little at starting seeds indoors - no matter what I've tried, one of my cats always manages to get into my starts and nibble them down to nothing. I'm forced to do direct sowing!

  2. I am sooooo excited for this years garden. I started my garden in 2013 -- with minimal results as nothing was ever grown here.. then 2013 -- I was able to double and triple my results with regards to squash/tomatoes, corn and peppers and watermelon. This year I have staked out 2 more garden areas so I can start rotating crops... I also bought a green house on clearance in the fall...and I have the seeds I have saved from this past years garden... we will see what happens.. but I am hopeful. :) love your page !!!

    1. Oh fun you sound like me! I am moving my garden space over by my new greenhouse too (Picture above is mine) It will give me more sun in this area which I lacked last year cause I wasnt sure where to put the garden with just buying the house. The old garden space which is by the house I am turning into an herb garden. Where do you live?