Ok, so let's be honest. We've almost all been there.
Your hands are wrapped tightly around that fresh cup of coffee (or hot tea, of course!) staring out the window. In full view are the remains of what used to be your favorite plants, all shriveled and brown, lonely, dry, dead. Nothing but a sad reminder of the vibrant colors and life that used to be last spring. The memory is slowly fading with each gust of frigid wind.
It's here you have two choices.
You can either stay inside, marking each eternal day off the calendar as time ... has ... slowed ... to ... a ... crawl.
You can wrap up in more layers than an onion, get outside, and get to work. Busy bees get the most honey. Plus, what better way to dream of the spring than to plan and be ready for it when it gets here?
So, here's a quick list of things to keep you busy while you long for the warm sunny days that seem oh so far away:
1. Kick last year's plants to the curb.
If you haven't already, it's time to clean out those dried and tangled annuals from last year's garden. Don't get too hasty though. Make sure you're not removing any perennials or overwintering bulbs in the process. Not sure what the difference is between an annual and perennial? Here's a great guide by Wonderopolis.org.
2. Sharpen and clean your garden tools.
Keeping your garden tools clean goes a long way in preventing the spread of fungus and other diseases from plant to plant. A coarse metal brush (like the kind used to clean a grill grate) works great! Use sandpaper to remove any rust spots. By the way, if rust has taken a chunk out of your tool, it's probably time for a trip to your local hardware store. Also, caked-on dirt can be as hard as a rock! If a quick rinse just isn't cutting it, try soaking the tool in a bucket of warm water with a small amount of dish soap to loosen up the dirt. Garden tools work best when they are sharpened to the correct level. Be very careful. If you're not absolutely sure what you're doing, this part can be dangerous. Here's a great garden tool sharpening guide from Popular Mechanics.
3. Plan, plan, plan.
When it comes to gardening, the best plan is a plan that involves a plan. If your normal method is flying by the seat of your pants and hoping your plants don't entangle each other, trust us, you're not alone. We all like to be spontaneous sometimes. However, in a garden, knowing the right location and space to give each plant can make all the difference.
Search engines are your friend here. To start, make a list of all the plants you want and group them by the amount of light needed. Now, with the plants listed in their light categories, group them by sowing season. Once you have them grouped by the amount of light needed and sowing date, write the space needed (max width or spread) beside each variety.
Then, measure and make a quick sketch of your growing locations and note the amount of light the space will receive per day (don't worry, you're not entering this in a drawing contest, so it doesn't have to be pretty.) Full Sun = preferably 8-10 hours of sunlight per day, but at least 6. Partial Sun/Partial Shade = 3-6 hours of sunlight per day. Full Shade = only reflected or filtered sunlight. Now, once you have your sketch complete and your sunlight areas listed, it's really just like putting a puzzle together. Make sure you note the plant spread and max widths from earlier.
If you're planting in the ground, try keeping the plants in their pots and moving them around until you're happy with the arrangement. Once you have your plants in the right spaces, it's just a matter of learning their soil and water needs, and you'll be looking like a gardening expert in no time!
4. Move the garden inside!
Last, but certainly not least, if the idea of having to wait any longer to start your garden seems like too much. Bring your garden inside. A sunny windowsill or grow light is all you need to successfully grow many types of herbs and houseplants indoors year-round. Plus, there's the added bonus of using the freshest herbs right off the plant while cooking! We've made a list here with some of the best indoor varieties that you can grow with ease! The most amazing part? We guarantee your seeds will sprout or we'll replace them for free. Go forth, you fearless gardener, you! Own that dirt.