The Vegetable Garden

Zones 3-4 Garden Calendar and Monthly Garden Tips

    Monthly To-Do List To Keep You On-Track All Year With Your Garden Activities For Zones 3-4

    January Tips

    Start a garden record book now, allowing space to record the dates of first and last frosts, sowing seeds, planting, transplanting, time of bloom, first fruits, fertilizing, problems with pests, and other information. Over a period of years, this will be an invaluable record. If you have any leftover seeds store these in a cool and dry place. Some gardeners save their seeds in a jar placed in the refrigerator. If you have vegetables in storage check them for spoilage and disease and remove affected vegetables. For an early taste of spring, grow some sprouts. Mung bean, radish, and buckwheat sprouts grow well in vented jars. Just put the seeds inside, cover them with water overnight, drain, then rinse twice a day.

    February Tips

    While considering your garden for the upcoming year take the time to draw layouts of how you expect to arrange your plantings. Review notes about your garden paying attention to success and failure and see if there are gems of information that can be helpful in your new plan.If you have not already done so now is the time to order seeds for the coming year.If a soil test has not been done in recent years then you can purchase a soil test kit through Amazon for quite cheap and find out what sort of soil amendments you might need to give your garden the best chances for success this coming year. Start broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage transplants this month if your soil is workable.Weather permitting, February is the month to begin tilling or spading the soil. Do not undertake this project until the soil is dry enough to work. Compost, well rotted manure or other organic matter are excellent additives to mix into vegetable garden soil as you prepare it for planting. This is also the time to turn under your cover crops if you have any.Perennial vegetable such as rhubarb, asparagus, horseradish and artichokes can be planted this month.

    March - April Tips

    Sweet peas, potatoes, onions and some salad crops can also be planted in March. Spinach, Broccoli, Celery, Radish seeds, Leeks, Cauliflower, Swiss Chard and other hardy vegetables can be seeded or set-out in the later part of this month. March is a good time to plant fruit trees and berries too. If you had strawberries and mulched them this past fall be sure to remove the mulch when growth begins. If you don't have established strawberries this is the month to start a new bed of strawberries. Blueberries, Boysenberries and Currants may also be started this month.Tomatoes and lettuce and other salad greens can be started from seed this month. Depending on your climate you may want to do this in a cold frame or indoors.

    May - June Tips

    Start any of the warm weather vegetables such as Corn, Beans, Peppers, Eggplant, Tomatoes, Squash and Pumpkins as soon as possible this month if you had not done so last month.After trees naturally drop their fruit in late June, thin remaining fruits on apple, pear and peach trees to encourage larger, better fruit. Vegetable seedlings may continue to be thinned this month in order to provide ample room for growth.Plant your Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussels sprouts and Cauliflower for next winter's harvest.Prune suckers from all your fruit treesFertilize strawberries and water regularly to promote new growthPinch herbs to keep bushy and fresh with new growth

    July Tips

    Begin enjoying the harvest of your homegrown fruits, vegetables and herbs!Fertilize June bearing strawberries after the harvest, and ever-bearing varieties half way through the season.Plant out successions of salad crops for continued harvesting throughout the summer. Sow seeds for cool-season crops directly into the garden by mid-July.Continue to protect your fruit from the birds with netting.Empty areas of the garden, where the crops have finished, should be replanted with either a fall vegetable crop, or a cover crop of clover or vetch to help control weeds. Cover crops can be tilled into the soil later, to add humus and nitrates to the soil.

    August Tips

    Compost should be watered during dry periods so that it remains active.The vegetable garden is likely to require daily harvesting now. Cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers should be picked as soon as the fruits are ready. This not only captures the best flavor, but it also makes way for new fruitsRemove dead pea vines, bolted lettuce, and other plants that have gone by and add them to the compost pile. If they show signs of disease, however, burn them.

    September Tips

    Cut out raspberry and blackberry canes that have just finished fruiting.Now is a good time to evaluate the success of this year's garden. Make notes that will help you improve your garden next spring.

    October Tips

    Harvest winter squash and pumpkins as they ripen and vines begin to brown (but before a hard frost). Cure the fruits in a warm location for a few weeks - this helps toughen the skin which leads to better storage life. After curing, store squash for winter use in a cool, dry location.Apples are ripening now. Taste apples to check ripeness - ripe fruits should have a good sugar to acid balance and lack a starchy taste.Continue to water lawns, trees, shrubs, and other perennial plants as needed until the ground freezes. Remember to disconnect the hose if night temperatures will be below freezing or you risk a burst faucet pipe!Now is the time to work on sealing up all cracks around windows, doors, and elsewhere on your house to keep out pesky box elder bugs and multicolored Asian lady beetles. If necessary, treat the exterior with residual insecticide.

    November Tips

    Rake excess leaves and mow the lawn one last time if needed.If you haven't made a final lawn fertilizer application get it done in early November. Be sure to sweep up any fertilizer spilled in streets, sidewalks, or driveways, and thoroughly water in fertilizer if rain doesn't do the job.Dig remaining root crops like parsnips, fall radishes, and carrots before the ground freezes. Cold-tolerant crops like Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, spinach, and some other greens will tolerate temperatures in the mid to upper 20s, but harvest them when colder temperatures threaten.Empty and store clay pots - they can break outdoors when freeze/thaw cycles occur. Scour the yard for stray garden tools. Clean and store tools and other garden ware.Add a winter mulch of straw, hay, or leaves to bulb and perennial beds after the ground starts to freeze. Winter mulch helps moderate soil temperatures and prevent heaving from spring freeze/thaw cycles.

    December Tips

    Clean and oil your tools for winter storage if you have yet done so. This is also an excellent month to replace any tools that should be retired while the demand and prices are both low.Prepare! Start planning your garden for next year. Review notes you have taken from this year and start the daydreaming with your catalogs.