Year-Round Gardening Calendar
Updated: Jun 8
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Many people think that gardening is just a spring and summer activity! It can be if you have a small plot that you just grow a few plants in for fun. However, if your goals, like mine, are to grow a significant amount of your food for the year, it takes year-round planning and work! It can be overwhelming, so I’ve simplified it for you here for free!
I live in West, TN, in growing zone 7b. The gardening calendar is based on my own growing zone. Please adjust the calendar to your growing zone.
Let your beds rest after the growing and harvest season. If you haven't already, finalize your growing plans for the spring and summer. Get a scrap of paper and write down what you're going to plant and when. Are you rotating any crops mid-season? Write it out.
Time to order seeds! Take a look at your seed collection and see what will still be good for next year and what you will need to order more of. If you order online, many nurseries sell out early, so you'll want to get your order in while they still have what you want.
If you’re planning to preserve foods for the year from your garden, take inventory of what you have and what you need. I usually end up needing more baskets, jars, or maybe even some kitchen equipment like a dehydrator or canning pot. I would recommend making a list, and start looking in thrift stores for these items, before buying them new. Need some tips? See my list here of things homesteaders should thrift for.
January is usually a mild month in West Tennessee. Sure, it's cold, but the ground does not freeze for long periods of time, and we usually get a few days of warm weather! If you live in a similar climate, January is actually a great time to be building garden infrastructure! Because it's not a growing season, this is a great time to rearrange, and/or build something new. For example, this last January, we build a garden gate and garden fence!
Spring is right around the corner. Hopefully, your seeds have arrived in the mail. Get the grow light and heat pad out and start some seeds! I always start more than I know I’ll need because inevitably, I’ll lose some in the hardening-off process and the transplanting.
If you plan to grow potatoes, start sourcing those at the grocery store, and let them spout in your kitchen window.
Want to know other plants you can source at the grocery store? See my post here!
Hopefully, you’ll start getting a few warm days. Get outside and start cleaning up your beds! Usually, this is my busiest season outside. Clean out existing beds of any weeds or debris.
Begin hardening off your starts as the weather permits. This is simply the process of placing your seed trays outside so they are not shocked and die when transplanted later.
Plant cold-tolerant plants. See my article here for 10 plants to plant in the early spring.
Take a look at your soil. Did your crops struggle the previous year for no apparent reason? It's likely because of poor soil quality. Read my post here for how to amend poor soil.
April is the big month! After the threat of frost passes, plant your summer garden! Put all the starts and anything from the seed you want to plant. Make sure to water them generously! Step out in the garden every day to make sure young plants aren’t drying out.
Time to rotate out some of those crops. If you planted any spinach, kale, snow peas, or broccoli, it’s probably getting too hot for these plants, and they are wilting or getting eaten up by pests. If you still have spinach or kale alive and healthy, go ahead and harvest all of that and freeze it for smoothies or soups for later! In the new empty bed space, throw in some more potatoes or an experimental crop that you’ve never grown before.
It’s probably time for a few harvests! Be diligent about getting in the garden every few days and checking for veggies that are ready for harvest.
If you like to can and preserve in bulk, wash and freeze your harvests until you get enough and/or enough time to properly process them.
Keep an eye on the weeds and pests as well as they’ll start creeping in and trying to take over your garden. I usually begin my battle with hornworms and stink bugs during this month. If I miss a few days in a row of de-bugging a garden bed, they will quickly overtake my plants!
This month the harvests and preservation usually ramp up! Pests and weeds can also easily take over during this time if the garden is left unattended for too long. Be diligent about pulling weeds when they’re young so that they don’t go to seed.
If you’re choosing to succession plant any crops, like potatoes, you might have time to get one more harvest in before the end of the season!
If you have the bed space, plant your fall crops! These should be cold hardy plants like carrots. August is a great time to plant these because the heat will help them sprout and grow faster when they are young, but it will cool down as these plants reach maturity.
Depending on your climate, August might also be the time to start cutting your tomatoes at the top, so that the plant begins putting its energy into the fruit. This helps the tomatoes ripen faster.
Here are 5 things to do in the fall garden! Even though August still feels like summer, Fall is right around the corner, and August is the time to start preparing!
Start assessing which plants are still productive and which plants need to be composted. Cut at the base of the plant (leaving the root system intact) and compost any plant that is no longer productive. As the month goes on, continue to cut and compost any plants that are not productive. If you empty out a bed, cover it with some kind of mulch (dry leaves, hay, or mulch). You can also plant a cover crop like clover or radishes to put nutrients back into the soil over the winter. If you plan to overwinter any crops, plant those in any empty bed space.
Plant any trees or bushes this month. Fall is actually the best time to plant fruit trees and bushes. This gives them time to establish a strong root system instead of putting energy into leaves and fruit. The fall and winter are typically wetter seasons too, so you don’t have to worry about watering as much as you would in the spring or summer.
Most nurseries sell them in the spring, but they should be planted in the fall. I’d recommend ordering your trees and bushes online for this reason, and so that you can get exactly what you need. Do some research to find varieties that are pest and disease-resistant. Nothing is worse than losing a large, fruit-bearing tree to disease. Prevent this on the front end with a bit of research.
Keep an eye out for the last frost date. Right before that date, get out and harvest anything that will be lost with the frost: green tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes, herbs, etc. Green tomatoes can ripen on a windowsill or in a cardboard box. You can have ripe tomatoes well into the winter months! Herbs like basil and cilantro, lemon verbena, and a few others are not cold-tolerant and will die after the first frost. Cut all of these back and bring them inside. My preferred method of saving herbs is to dry them in a dehydrator and put them in glass jars to use throughout the winter. Here's a good dehydrator. I use a similar one that I found in a thrift store. My favorite recipe with dried herbs right now is this sourdough bacon and herb grilled cheese sandwich!
Clean out beds for the winter and cover in compost, leaves, or a cover crop like clover. Try to never leave uncovered or unplanted beds in your garden. This is not good for the soil.
If you have nut trees on your property (or know where some are), begin harvesting the nuts before the squirrels get to them. This year, I harvest pounds and pounds of pecans and chestnuts!
November is a great time to take advantage of all the pumpkins from Halloween. I LOVE pumpkin baked goods, so I always get ahold of pumpkins from my friends and family or on sale at the grocery store during this time. Turn them into pumpkin puree, and then freeze them in small baggies to be enjoyed later.
Take some time to enjoy your harvest from the summer! The holiday season is a great time to show off your hard work from the growing season and share the bounty with friends and family. Thanksgiving is a great time to show off the garden bounty with your friends and family! Pecans, apples, pumpkin pies, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and the list goes on and on!
If you planted carrots in August, you might be able to harvest those now. Carrots grown in the fall are the sweetest, most delicious veggie there is!
Set aside some of those extra cans of jams or sauces to gift to friends and family for the holidays. Nothing is nicer stocking stuffer or gift to a coworker than a homemade can of apple butter with a ribbon tied around it. See my gift guide here!
And that's it! A year-round gardening calendar! Use this calendar as a guideline, and adjust as needed for your growing area. I live in zone 7b, so we tend to have mild winters and very early springs. What did I leave out? Let me know in the comments!