Garden Planning for a New Season

What's happening next? Here is our month by month plan through July. This plan is particular to our (cold!) growing Adirondack zone (3/4) and our last frost date -- which can sometimes fall in early June. The following checklist is mostly a list of reminders to myself, but they might prove useful to other cold climate grower out there. My blog has become a place where I record notes that I just can't afford to lose. I'm glad that so many folks have found it useful. It really is something that we use, too! In January, I'll finalize our seed-sowing calendar. I'll be sure to publish a link to it in the January newsletter for anyone who is curious to see what it looks like and how our timing works out. Please let me know with a comment if you have any questions.

Best,

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December:

  • Keep checking in on dahlia tubers. Remove any that are going bad - rot, mold, too dry.
  • Set up heated growing space - be it an area in the basement, a spare room, a greenhouse, etc. 
  • Order potting soil mixes for winter seed starting.
  • Keep up with wedding floral design inquiries and proposals!

January:

  • Cross check all wedding contracts to date for flower variety types. Order any additional seeds and tubers needed.
  • Keep up with wedding floral design inquiries and proposals! 
  • Make seed sowing calendar based on plant-out dates and wedding/event dates.
  • Sow very slow-growing seeds in propagation greenhouse or under grow lights. 
  • Start dahlia tubers for cuttings. (It takes about 1 month to grow a stem for cutting. Cuttings can be taken through March for plants that will bloom or later into April for plants that produce no blooms, but still make tubers for future seasons.)

February:

  • Keep up with wedding floral design inquiries and proposals!
  • In early February start slow-growing perennials. 
  • Start the first successions of spring annuals at the end of the month.
  • Take first dahlia tuber cuttings (approx. one month after starting them).
  • Re-new summer farmers' market memberships.
  • Order summer stock of local compost, mulch, sand for April delivery.
  • Begin hiring process for summer helpers. 

March:

  • Sow, sow, sow! Tons of seeds need to be planted in March.
  • Continue taking cuttings from Dahlia tubers to expand collection and cater to wedding/event plans. 
  • Set up dates for summer on-farm workshops.

April:

  • Sow more seeds, per the January calendar. 
  • Stop taking dahlia cuttings and move up (to larger pots) some dahlia plants for early growth in a heated greenhouse or propagation room under grow lights. They can't be planted out until you are safely past the last frost date, or until you can protect them from frost damage.
  • Work on farm stand improvements.
  • Lay down silage plastic for new beds to clear. 
  • End of month: prepare beds for frost-hardy annuals that like to be direct sown in late winter/early spring (Larkspur, for example).
  • Remove silage tarps and prepare outdoor annual beds. Focus on building up the beds for better drainage. Cover them with low-tunnels ahead of planting to protect seedlings from spring winds and rain. 
  • Burn holes in new landscape plastic (dry weather needed for this)

May:

  • Direct sow Larkspur, Bupleurum, Nigella - and other hardy, self-sowing annuals
  • Harvest narcissus and tulips.
  • Plant first seedlings (hardy spring annuals like snapdragons, stock, and sweet peas) in first week of May under low tunnels. Cover with additional frost cloth inside the tunnels for protection, if necessary. 
  • Work on improvements to field drainage issues (trench digging time!)
  • Erect tall caterpillar tunnel over dahlia beds (new project on our farm to extend dahlia season in October, and to exclude potato leaf hoppers from damaging plants). 
  • Plant out dahlias in caterpillar tunnel. 

June:

  • Harvest allium, lupine, honeysuckle, snapdragons, stock, tulips, foxglove, sweet peas, and foraged greens for first farmers' markets and weddings. 
  • Take steps to prevent weed growth (heavy mulching of perennial beds and first round of weeding the annuals). 
  • Spray compost tea on crop foliage once each week.
  • Spray Safer 3-in-1 organic on vulnerable plants: lilies, geum, Chinese lantern plants.
  • Re-claim any over-grown areas and get them heavily mulched. Prepare any new perennial beds for fall planting/direct sowing now when things are a little slower. 
  • Check lilies daily for evidence of Scarlet Lily Beetles. Remove/destroy beetles and larvae.

July:

  • July 1st and 10th: Last 2 sowings of sunflowers for fall harvest. Start them under a low tunnel to protect them from Japanese beetles/deer/birds/rain storms. 
  • Harvest for weekly farmers' markets.
  • Weed and mulch whenever you can squeeze it in!
  • Cover all dahlia buds with organza bags to prevent damage from Tarnished Plant Bugs.