Get Your Garden On (Despite the Snow)

by Caitlin Kelch

garden roundup1

On the eve of winter storm Stella, I’m completely looking forward to doing some more garden planning by the wood stove while the snow comes down. I have to keep my motivation high lest I sneak under the covers until it’s actually green outside, so today I’m sharing some of the things in my garden-to-be scrapbook. It’s my first spring at my first home so yes, I’m excited!

I am reading as much as I can to make sure I don’t go over budget with things I don’t actually need the first time around. We’re planning a small 10′ x 10′ vegetable plot with fencing, and a small flower cutting garden, which is taking up most of my research time. If you have any tips for either endeavors, please share them with me in the comments. Please. I’m in West Virginia in USDA Garden Zone 6A and yes, we have deer. In the meantime, enjoy these decidedly spring treats and the books I’m reading during the big snow. –Caitlin

Image above, clockwise from top left:  $30,  $55,   $8,  $25,  $21,  $59 ,  $10,  $40,  $12


Image above, clockwise from top left:  $25,  $13, (5 Year Journal) $20 ,  $28 ,  $8,  $40

Click through for eight more picks and some serious garden inspiration!


Image above, clockwise from top left: $40, $10, $10, $200,  $72, $4,  $38, $3

Here’s where I’m taking some major inspiration:

These 14 Envy-Inducing Outdoor Spaces.


This post on Gertrude Jekyll and The Country House garden.


And last, but certainly not least, the amazing gardens of Tasha Tudor!


Don’t forget those gardening tips for me! Thanks!

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  • Sun is probably the most important element in your garden. Understanding where shade is cast and where full sun falls is essential. For example, the first outdoor space above is probably a south facing wall. It would be very difficult (impossible?) to get that sort of growth and flowering on a northern wall.
    Plants grow towards the sun, and will actually seem to migrate south bound over time. So, finding your shade zone is essential to your garden plan.
    Right now is the perfect time to determine the most significant shade pattern in your yard. If you have any garden areas located north of a wall, heavy tree or building, then you probably can see that they are in shade right now. Get a good stake and pound it into the soil to mark the shade line so you know where it is as we progress into longer days.
    We are only a week from the spring equinox, you can plan on having that shade area exist every year between the equinox’s (Sept. 21- March21), with the most shade on the winter solstice (Dec. 21). What you can grow here will be vastly different from what you can grow in a full sun garden.
    I also like to get a good understanding of where both morning and afternoon sun creates shade and full light. An example might be that if you have a large tree to the west of your vegetable patch, you should plant those veggies it as far to the east from that tree as possible, because the garden might miss afternoon sun and not have enough sun exposure to mature your crops.
    Well, there’s my
    That’s my ‘tips’ for starting a good garden, have fun!

    • Ah Jen, thanks so much! I especially appreciate the equinox info here. It has been such a fun project for my daughter & I to keep a sort of ‘sun/shade’ diary on the plot we’ve marked for the veggies. Of course, the leaves aren’t in yet so we’re excited to see how our estimates pan out. Thanks again for sharing these tips. I do a lot of garden face-to-face talking, but there’s something so lasting to have these tips in writing.


  • Jen is absolutely correct about finding the sun and shade in your garden..Since we had that snow event I always look to see what areas thaw first they are usually your sunny areas..but trees haven’t leafed out yet so check..also I assume you will be raising your vegtable garden which makes controlling your soil easier but if not it is important to have your soil tested..nasty things like lead are hidden in there..the test will tell you what nutrients your soil needs..veg and flowers sometimes need different things..as for tools felco makes the best pruners they clean easily and parts are available ..I know you might not like this last piece but I would live with the existing garden for a year to see how it behaves..maybe just doing a lot of prep work instead..above all gardening is very rewarding most of the time but is ripe with happy accidents.D

    • Hi Denise!

      Thanks! See my note to Jen – I’m clipping these tips & putting them in my journal. I lose so much of the tips from my face-to-face garden chats so I’m happy to have some here in writing :) Any tips on soil testing kits that show the bad things? I’m familiar w/ soil type kits, but it doesn’t seem like they show toxic things. And YES, re the felco tip. I am so done w/ purchasing inferior tools (& things in general) and LONG for a basement full of tiny labeled drawers with replacement parts like my grandparents had.

      The idea of living with it for a year is so important! Thank you. Grace gave me some similar advice when I purchased my (first) home in July and went ga-ga on plans to do this and that to the interior. She said the exact same thing – live with it for a year, and then plan!


      • Caitlin…In Massachusetts where I live we have our soil tested at U Mass Extention Service..I assume in West Virginia you have a University that might have the same service..google soil testing in your area..D

  • A nice collection of ideas here, thanks!
    I second the sun advice above, there are some reasonably priced tools that will help track your sun/shade. I created a weekly reminder to take a few photos of the yard/garden as a reference of the amount of light over the seasons. It has helped me locate some microclimates for specific plants. Also, if you have deer or rabbit problems I use Liquid Fence, you do have to reapply, but it works! And it is safe.
    Good luck and enjoy!

  • In addition to soil testing, budget for top soil and soil amendments. Its almost guaranteed that whatever your soil type, you will need to amend it. You will have much better success with food crops if you have a rich soil. In addition, give some thought to how you will be irrigating your fruit and vegetable beds. It can be a lot of work to hand water plants (as well as a joy). Most of all l, have fun and get dirty!

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