Planning the work ahead is important. A simple checklist can be used to make sure that everything is started and carried out at the proper time–starting with preparing the ground and the sowing of seeds.
Here is a month-by-month calendar of operations for the vegetable garden. Use this checklist as a timely reminder of things to be done or as the basis for your own check list. Keep your schedule of garden reminders in a Looseleaf notebook with a section for each month. A Looseleaf notebook will allow you to make changes and add information. You can add to and modify this calendar from year to year, and you can post the calendar for the month in the garden or in the garden shed.
JANUARY Garden To-Do List:
Probably one of the good resolutions made with the New Year is a better garden for the coming season. Psychologists say that the only hope for resolutions is to nail them down at the start with an action–that seems to have more effect in making an actual impression on the brain. So start the good work by sending at once for several of the leading seed catalogues.
• Planting Plan. Make out a list of what you are going to want this year, and then make your Planting Plan.
• Seeds. Order your seed. Order now while the seedsman’s stock is full and before the spring rush.
• Manures and compost. If you have a place under cover where you can collect manure and compost for the coming season, do it now, or if the weather allows, add these to your garden now. Soil amendments can often be gotten less expensively at this time of year. If possible, add compost and rock phosphate now to allow for several turnings.
• Frames. Even at this season of the year do not fail to air the frames well on warm days. Practically no water will be needed, but if the soil does dry out sufficiently to need it, apply early on a bright morning.
• Onions. It will not be too early, this month, to sow onions for spring transplanting outside. Try Prizetaker, Ailsa Craig, Mammoth Silver-skin, or Gigantic Gibraltar.
• Lettuce. Sow lettuce for spring crop under glass or in frames.
• Fruit. This is a good month to prune grapes, currants, gooseberries and peach trees, to avoid the rush that will come later.
FEBRUARY Garden To-Do List:
• Cold frames and Hotbeds. Get all your material ready — select lumber and materials to make new frames. Make sure portable frames are ready to go and sashes and covers are in good repair.
• Starting Seeds. First part of the month, earliest planting of cabbage, cauliflower, and lettuce should be made; and two to four weeks later for main early crop. At this time also, beets and earliest celery and Brussels sprouts.
• Tools. Check and clean them all now; order repairs. Get new catalogues and study new improvements and kinds you do not possess.
• Poles and trellises. Get your wire trellis and planting poles in order or get new supplies for the coming season.
• Fruit. Finish up last month’s work, if not all done. Also examine plum and cherry trees for overwintered pests or diseases.
MARCH Garden To-Do List:
• Hotbeds and cold frames. If these are not in place, see to it at once. Some of the seed sown last month will be ready for transplanting and going into the frames; also lettuce sown in January. Radish and carrot may be sown in alternating rows. Give much more air and water to seedlings on bright mornings; be careful not to have them caught by suddenly cold nights after a bright warm day.
• Seed-sowing under glass. Last sowing of early cabbage and early summer cabbages, lettuce, rhubarb (for seedling plants), cauliflower, radish, spinach, turnip, and early tomatoes; towards last of month, late tomatoes and first of lima beans, cucumber, squash, peppers, and eggplant. Start main crop tomatoes in frames. Spout early potatoes in sand.
• Planting, outside. If an early spring, and the ground is sufficiently dry, sow onions, lettuce, beet, radish, smooth peas, early carrot, cabbage, leek, celery (main crop), and turnip. Set out new beds of asparagus, rhubarb and sea-kale. Manure and fork up old beds.
• Fruit. Prune now, apple, plum, and pear trees. And this is the last chance for lime-sulphur and oil sprays.
APRIL Garden To-Do List:
Now the rush is on! Plan your work, and work your plan. But do not yield to the temptation to plant more than you can care for and eat for later on. Remember it is much easier to sow seeds than to pull out weeds.
• Frames. Air! Water! These will keep aphids or whiteflies from getting a foothold in the frame. Almost every day the top should be lifted entirely off. Care must be taken never to let the soil or flats become dried out; toward the end of the month, if it is bright and warm, begin watering towards evening instead of in early morning. If proper attention is given to ventilation and moisture, there will not be much danger from pests or diseases.
• Seed sowing. Under glass: tomato, eggplant, peppers, muskmelon, and watermelon. Under cover in biodegradable containers, corn, cucumbers, melons, early squash, lima beans.
• Planting, outside. Plant in seed beds celery, cabbage, lettuce, onions, carrots, smooth peas, spinach, beets, chard, parsnip, turnip, and radish. Set out lettuce and cabbage plants. If not put in last month; also parsnip, salsify, parsley, wrinkled peas, endive; toward the end of this month (or first part of next) second plantings of these. Set out plants of early cabbage (and the cabbage group) lettuce, onion sets, sprouted potatoes, and beets.
• In the garden. Cultivate between rows of sowed crops; get rid of weeds by hand just as soon as they are up enough to be seen; watch for cut-worms and root-maggots.
• Fruit. Thin out all old blackberry canes, dewberry and raspberry canes (if this was not done last summer or fall; it’s best to do this directly after the fruiting season). Be ready for first spraying of early-blossoming trees. Set out new strawberry beds, small fruits and fruit trees.
MAY Garden To-Do List:
• Weeding. Keep ahead of the weeds. This is the month when warm days and gentle rains can keep the ground too wet to work for days and allow weeds to grow by leaps and bounds. Don’t let sprouting onions, beets, and carrots get overtaken by rapid-growing intruders. A slight hilling of crops will set sprouting weeds apart from your vegetables.
• Frames. Guard tender plants growing in frames–tomatoes, eggplant and peppers–against sudden late frosts. The sash may be left off most of the time, but keep your eye on the weather forecast. Water crops in the frame copiously and often.
• Planting, outside. First part of the month: early beans, early corn, okra and late potatoes may be put in; and first tomatoes set out–even if a few are lost–they are readily replaced. Finish setting out cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, and beets from frames. Latter part of month, if warm: sow in the garden or set out starts of beans, lima beans, muskmelon, watermelon, summer squash, peas, potatoes, lettuce, radish, tomato (early), corn, kale, winter squash, pumpkins, pole limas, and cucumbers.
• Fruit. Be on time with first sprayings of late-blossoming fruits such as apples. Rub off from grape vines the shoots that are not wanted.
JUNE Garden To-Do List:
Keep up frequent, shallow cultivation!
•Seeds and starts. Early in the month, sow beans, wax beans, lima beans, pole beans, melons, corn, cucumber, peas, New Zealand spinach, and summer lettuce. Set out starts of eggplant, pepper, and main-crop tomatoes. Make successive crops of lettuce, radish, carrots, and spinach. Firm seeds in dry soil. Mid-month plant beans, corn, peas, turnip, summer lettuce, radish, late cabbage, and set out late tomato plants. Toward the end of the month set out celery and late cabbage.
• Maintenance. Top-dress growing crops with compost. Prune tomatoes, and cut out excess foliage for early tomatoes.
•Fall crops. Sow beans, beets, corn, and other early fall crops. Allow asparagus to grow ferny tops.
• Fruit. Make pot-layers of strawberries for July setting.
JULY Garden To-Do List:
Maintain frequent, shallow cultivation.
• Planting. Set out late cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, leeks and celery. Early in the month sow beans, beets, endive, kale, lettuce, radish, winter cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and celery plants. Mid-month sow beans, early corn, and early peas for late fall crops and successions of lettuce and radish. Irrigate as needed.
• Fruit. Pinch back new canes of blackberry, dewberry and raspberry. Rub off second crop of buds on grapes. Thin out if too many bunches of grapes; also on plums, peaches and other fruit thin too thick or touching fruits. Pot-layered strawberries may be set out.
AUGUST Garden To-Do List:
• Weeds. Keep the garden clean from late weeds–especially purslane, the hot-weather weeds which should be always removed from the garden and rotted down.
• Planting. Sow spinach, rutabaga turnip, bush beans and peas for last fall crop. During first part of month, late celery may still be put out. Sow early peas, lettuce, and radish for early fall crop, in frames. First endive should be tied up for blanching.
• Fruit. Strawberries may be set, and pot-layered plants, if wanted to bear a full crop the following season (see page 228), should be put in by the I5th Thin out and bag grapes (page 246).
SEPTEMBER Garden To-Do List:
• Frames. Set in lettuce started in August. Sow radishes, onions, and successive crop of lettuce. Cooler weather begins to tell on late-planted crops. Give cabbage, cauliflower, and fall crops deeper cultivation.
• Harvest and store. Harvest onions. Get squash under cover before frost. From the 15th to 25th sow spinach, onions, borecole for wintering over. Sow down cover crop rye as fast as the ground is cleared of summer crops; or turn heavy soil in ridges. Attend to draining.
• Fruit. Trees may be set. Procure barrels for storing fruit in winter. At harvest time it is often impossible to get them at any price.
OCTOBER Garden To-Do List:
•Get ready for winter. Blanch rest of endive. Bank celery, to be used before Christmas, where it is. Gather tomatoes, melons, and summer crops to keep as long as possible. Keep especially clean and well cultivated all crops to be wintered over.
•Frame. Sow in frame quick-maturing cool-weather crops such as cut-and-come again lettuce or roots for harvest before or during winter. Grow over-wintering crops to near maturity before daylight dips below 10 hours a day in mid-November. Protect these crops through the winter in the frame.
•Store. Late in the month store cabbage and cauliflower; also beets, carrots, and other root crops. Get boxes, barrels, bins, sand, or sphagnum moss ready beforehand, to save time in packing.
•Clean the garden. Store poles and trellis worth keeping over; dispose or everything else that will not rot; and compost everything that will.
• Fruit. Harvest apples and other fruits. Pick winter pears just before hard frosts, and store in dry dark place.
NOVEMBER Garden To-Do List:
• Frames. Make deep hotbeds for winter lettuce and radishes. Construct frames for use next spring. See that vegetables in cellar, bins, and sheds are safe from freezing. Trench or store celery for spring use. Take in balance of all root crops if any remain in the ground unprotected by a frame, except, of course, parsnip and salsify for spring use. Put rough manure on asparagus and rhubarb beds. Get mulch ready for spinach and kale to be wintered over, if they occupy exposed locations.
• Fruit. Obtain seedless hay for mulching strawberries. Cut out old wood of cane-fruits such as blackberries if not done after gathering fruit. Look over fruit trees for borers.
DECEMBER Garden To-Do List:
• Mulch. Cover celery stored last month, if trenched out-of-doors. Use only light, loose material at first, gradually covering for winter. Put mulch on spinach and kale and over salsify and parsnips.
• Fruit. Mulch strawberries. Prune grape-vines. Make first application of winter sprays for fruit trees.
• Compost and manure. Add to and turn the compost pile before winter sets in. Any seed-free weeds or non-diseased garden waste can be added to the compost. Procure manures of all kinds, cover, and allow rotting for next season. Almost anything which will rot will add to the value of your manure pile: muck, lime, sods, weeds (earth and all), stable and yard sweepings–all these and numerous others will increase your garden success next year.