March garden prep? You probably think I’m crazy but hear me out. Gardening becomes overwhelming the more Spring looms closer. Life is busy. Kids are in sports. Every weekend fills with activities that leave little room to really think of your garden.
So, what garden prep can you do in March? Quite a lot actually but you still have time to space out these chores so you’re not feeling overwhelmed. First, if you haven’t planned out your garden, the spacing, and location then that would be where you start. You want to pick a plot in your yard that receives as much sun as possible. Also keep it close to the hose or water source. Our first garden, we placed it where we needed to connect two hoses together to reach it and then they were ruined by a lawn mower. Make it easy on yourself.
Next, think of what you’re going to plant. Inventory your refrigerator and the vegetables and fruit you have in there. For the next couple weeks, watch what you or your family consistently eats. Theres no reason to grow Leeks or Kohlrabi if none of you eat it. Once you’ve figured out what you want to grow, and made sure it can grow. Locally, Aurora IL, is a Zone 5. Then move onto placing them in your garden design.
A garden design doesn’t have to be some intricately drawn map with muted tones of green to show shrubs and trees. Box out your garden beds on paper. You don’t really have to know if you’re doing raised beds or not at this step since it shouldn’t make much of a difference for location. There are a few different ideas as to how to plant and what should be planted together. Companion planting has quite a few benefits in that, each plant offers the other some form of protection and aids in yield productivity.
Head here to see a more comprehensive guide to companion planting.
Also, if you’re looking to use your garden as a replacement for your weekly grocery store adventure, take a look at successive planting. The idea is that you’ll plant at different times so that you can harvest weekly. This is what we personally plan to utilize to help save money with our grocery budget.
Here is a good source explaining Succession planting with 7, 10, 14, 21, and 30 day interval options.
Next, you’ll want to test your soil. This helps gauge the quality and health of your soil and also aids in determining what you might have to add to it. Think of this step as tasting your meal and determining whether or not it needs more salt or pepper. Clay soils retain moisture but requires organic matter such as compost or mulch to aerate the soil. Testing kits help determine what your soil needs.
Here’s a great video explaining how.
Now decide what beds you want. Raised beds offer the benefits of more room for plants to grow along with a lessened risk to suffer from overwatering. They do come with more of an expense in regards to materials to build them. There are all types of raised bed plans on the internet. You can Google or also search on Pinterest to find them. At Not Just Grass, we install raised beds. Feel free to contact us if you prefer us to build and install them.
Once you’ve planned out your garden, you’ll want to look into ordering or purchasing seeds. Locally, we’ve used Griswold Feed & Seed Store. Their Facebook page can be viewed here. Also SeedsNOW is a great website to look at particularly if you’re looking for organic options.
The average last frost date in our area is April 20th, so there’s time to have this all planned so that when the planting time comes, you’ll be ready. Get your tools ready, build/map out your beds, and get your seeds. Good luck this year and check back in next month when we write an April Gardening post.