January is inventory month. It’s time to reflect and take stock of things. We anxiously wait for the first robin, a sign that spring is here in the north. I know growing up in northern Illinois was brutal. I can tell you stories of snow so high it covered the patio windows. The first sign of life was a cardinal perched on top of the snow tsunami that blocked out all light until the snow began to melt. I can still see the blazing red of his wings against the white of the snow and his little feet skittering across the snow back and forth dreaming of a day when I could see more than a slit of light at the top of the window and a slash of red from a beautiful cardinal.
The snow was so high across Beach road one year that the snow plow piled it stories high across the road and I can’t remember how long before anyone could get through. Sounds like stories of “when I was a kid we had to walk to school, barefoot, in a sand storm, with no coat, 10 miles, uphill, both ways.” But, it’s true.
January and February seem very long to people who live to be out in the garden. So to cheer you up I am here to tell you that you really don’t have that much time to get things in order for spring. I was thinking the other day that your garden planning calendar is very much the same as the calendar I went by when I was a retail buyer. January is inventory month. It’s time to take inventory of all of your tools, supplies, and organic soil amendments. So I am going to give you a simple 10 things to get ready for spring. Another idea that I am going to toss out there is that you start a garden diary. In retail we kept a calendar year journal. It was a comparative week to week journal so we knew any event that had an impact on sales when we were analyzing data that would impact buys and projections. Let me give you an example. Last year in Central Illinois we had a 100 year drought, my first year garden was impacted by tunneling moles, voles and gophers. By starting a weekly calendar year journal I can see what was going on and the impact it had on the garden. I can record temperatures, drought conditions, problems I
encountered and ways I dealt with them. Think of it as your own personal Farmer’s Almanac. So get a garden historical journal started and here’s your 10 things.
10 Things To Get Ready For Spring
1. Locate All Your Gardening Tools | Identify your favorite tools. Sharpen your clippers. Order new clippers or rose shears if you have been planning to get some. I have a favorite tool that I cannot be without Corona Pruning Saw. Put all your tools in the location you have identified as the place you can find them easiest. I once placed my clippers on top of the lawn clipping bags as well as my sunglasses. Guess what? I no longer have either of them. They went to Plano recycling.
2. Clean Out Your Gardening Shed | Be merciless. If you have items that you don’t know what it is get rid of it and label items clearly. If you don’t have a gardening shed now is a good time to look for a good bargain and get it set-up.
3. Do A Gardening, Landscape Budget | Just like anything else we can plan better with an allocated budget. My garden planning includes costs for landscaping improvements, plants, fertilizers, engraved plant names, tools, even travel to shows if you plan on attending. It really adds up.
4. Identify your organic soil amendments such as Alfalfa meal, corn meal, kelp, Annie Haven’s Moo-Poo | Decide on your particular soil amendment formula and see if you have the ingredients. Order them now. Last year I could not get all of my amendments at the feed store. I used to use bat guano and it was difficult to come by, so if you use it identify your supplier.
5. Order Rose Catalogs | Most catalogs are now online. You can go to all of the rose hybridizers and download their catalogs. Remember at one point I had in my Texas garden every rose in the Week’s Roses catalog however you cannot order directly from Week’s Roses it is where you go to dream. My favorite catalog are Week’s Roses, Star Roses, Heirloom Roses, Edmunds Roses, and of course Jackson & Perkins. As Chris Van Cleave @RedneckRosarian and Teresa of A Garden Diary I mention quite often, if you are a member of your local rose society chapter many times you can get roses from your local ARS rose society
6. Check your winter protection. Brooke Kroeger, Creative Country Mom called yesterday to say she was expecting 18 inches of snow in Indiana and that the warming and cooling trends were causing her concern about the heaving of her winter protection. So be sure to keep an eye on your winter protection.
7. Design | Plan | Draw designs for new gardens | In Plano when the trees grew to shade the front yard I had to transition the plants from sun to shade. I was able to have a landscape architect do a drawing for me for $350.00. I laminated the drawing and took it with me to all the nurseries to buy shade plants. To implement the company was going to charge an additional $15,000. I felt perhaps I could buy the plants and plant them in stages which I did. Then I had a stone patio put in. It all took planning and a budget. Now is a good time to see if a landscape architect might be able to assist with some design elements.
8. Set up all your Garden Files | I have an excel spreadsheet with all the names of plants. Maybe it’s just me but when people ask me what is that called I like to be able to tell them. I also include on the excel file whether it’s a shade plant and how to take care of it.
9. Set up a Show Kit | I have a fish tackle box that I completely set-up as an exhibitors box for attending and showing at rose shows. It is an amazingly useful tool kit.
10. OUI Theory. Learn it | Live it| Practice it | Now if you don’t know it you better learn it right now. Two people can get a lot more done than one.