You have your list. You’ve identified how the sun moves in your yard. You’ve more or less decided where your beds are going to be! You have direction. You know if you’re doing a food plot, herb garden, flower garden, pollinator garden, etc. The dream has been dreamed!
There is a saying that goes something like, “Summer bods are made during the Winter.” In the same way, Spring gardens are made in the Fall. Sure, you could start fresh in the Spring and come out with a decent garden, but what you REALLY want is to start in the Fall.
If your beds are not already dug out and established, do that. If you need to bring top soil in, do that as well. Till it. This is your base. Don’t add anything other than top soil if you need it. I happen to know some people who do soil testing. I also happen to know that soil testing is half off in September. Yes. September. Why? Because gardens are made in the fall, not the Spring. Take a sample of your soil, fill out the handy dandy paperwork. After your soil is tested, it will be sent to the Agronomy team at Fertrell. They will then provide you with an analysis of your soil and recommendations as to what you may need to add, how to use it, when you use it, and all of that fun stuff. That analysis comes with the cost of getting your soil tested. It’s worth every penny if you want a kick-butt garden in the Spring.
After following any instructions for Autumnal care, you may have to consider what you’re planting. If you are doing a food plot, there may be cool weather plants like carrots that you would like to get started. There are some flowers that it is suggested you sow in the Fall for them to go through a Wintering (like Milkweed).
This next section starts tip toeing into Part 3, but it needs to be said now as it can potentially affect what you do this Fall or next Spring.
Beyond that, two roads diverge in the garden.
I like to go by the “Rule of 1/3s.” I don’t know if it exists but I say it does. As I mentioned in the post about seed saving, plants were made to spread in the Fall to rise in the Spring. I sow approximately 1/3 of my seeds in the Fall. I proceed to sow another 1/3 of my seeds in the Spring as directed. The last 1/3 or so, I sow around July. As we are in Zone 6, many plants for our Zone are sow-able from May-July. This give the potential for 3 “waves” of blooms- Spring, late Spring/Early Summer, and Mid-Late Summer.
Follow the Spring sow directions to a T. Most direct you to start plants indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost. This goes for both foods and flowers. Some say to plant, “as soon as soil can be worked” which I have found to be somewhere around mid-March, depending on weather of course. There are also some that just don’t transfer well. Bells of Ireland are remarkable self-sowers. I have found them to be quite formidable and prolific….but try to start them indoors and transplanting them is not worth it. Direct sow is the way to go for many.
Part III- purchasing seeds and/or plants, and getting them in the ground!