Winter Planning for Spring (and Summer!) Vegetable Gardens

Winter Planning for Vegetable Gardens

Winter is the perfect time to research and plan for your spring and summer vegetable garden. Coming up with a realistic plan not only saves you time and money, but it gives you peace of mind as you move forward into the warmer months.  Already, the days are lengthening, and depending on where you live, it may already be time to start thinking about buying and starting seeds.

Sometimes coming up with a plan for your garden can seem overwhelming, especially if you are just starting out.  Here are a few steps to help you get started:

Planning Your Garden

Think about the lessons learned in past years when planning this year’s garden

If you had a garden last year, decide what went well and what you want to change

Start by thinking hard about your successes and failures by answering some of the following questions:

  • What crops did you have too much of?
  • What crops did you wish you had more of?
  • Which crops failed?  Why did they fail (bad year, not enough sun, too many weeds, etc)?
  • Were you able to manage the garden and keep up with weeding and watering?
  • Do you need a bigger space?
Winter Garden Planning

Know your space before you plan your garden, and know what you want to grow before you plan your space.

Determine what changes you want to make for the coming year

Based on your answers to the questions above, what changes would you like to make to this year’s garden?  Think about the size of your garden and how you may want to change the layout.  If you had trouble with a certain crop last year, are there changes you can make to improve your outcomes, such as adding drip irrigation?  Also, consider new crops you may want to try or favorites from last year you want to grow again.

Make a list of all the seeds or starters you would like to grow this year.  If you don’t already have a garden notebook or journal, consider starting one so you can look back from year to year.  This is also a great time to look through books or online to learn about new crops or new growing techniques such as square foot gardening, vertical gardening, or using cold frames.

Make a Garden Plan

Once you know the changes you hope to make, it’s time to come up with a plan.  Using the list of crops you hope to grow,  draw out your garden and decide where each crop will be planted.  Keep in mind crop rotation, seed spacing, succession planing, and don’t forget you don’t need to use every seed in the pack.  Once you know where everything will go, make another list of your crops, and record when you need to plant them outside or start them inside.  This plan will be your guideline in the coming months, so keep it handy.

Get Started

Now that you have a solid garden plan, it’s time to get started.  Even in the winter, there are some things you can do to ensure success for the coming year.  Here are a few things you can be doing now to get ready:

  • Select and order seeds
  • Repair and care for your garden tools
  • Collect supplies for seed starting such as pots, soil, etc.
  • Read up on those new crops you plan to grow for advice
  • Find supplies you need (compost, wood, etc) for enlarging your current garden space

Even though you are thinking ahead, don’t forget to enjoy your winter homestead.

Are you ready for this growing season?  What are some things you do during the winter to get ready for the spring?

Green Thumb Thursday

About gstuppy

Gretchen Carlson has written 2 posts in this blog.

My name is Gretchen and I live in upstate NY with my three young children and my best friend (and husband) on an emerging 2 1/2 acre backyard farm. Like so many people, we are making the move to live closer to the earth, to think about where our food and belongings come from, to regain homesteading skills, and to strengthen the family connection through farming. When I'm not chasing after my children, I'm often found in our pasture visiting the animals, weeding the never ending horsetail in my gardens, or impulsively beginning a new outdoor project.


  1. Nina says

    Hi, i live in a small town but in city limits i have less then half an acre to work with but i have planned out my complete garden and started planning a chicken coop. I can have three chickens where i live. Me and my boyfriend started getting into the disaster prepping stuff and i decided a survival need is food and wanted to learn how to garden in case of an extreme emergency and id need it and i wanted to learn how to preserve. I also read it is healthy for your body and mind and so far i have got to say it is wonderful. I live in southeast texas and the weather is always unpredictable so here lately its been raining and it dampening my spirits because i just want to be outside working in my garden.

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