Tag: garden planning

January Garden Checklist

The weather is cold but there is still plenty to do in the garden! Here are some tips and ideas for your garden this month.

The new year is here! Here in Oregon the weather is often very cold and wet in January which makes it difficult to get outside. Luckily there is still plenty to do indoors on these rainy days!

January is a great time to focus on planning, indoor projects, and maintenance tasks so you will be well prepared for the season ahead. The list below is based on my garden in zone 8, and you may need to adjust timing based on your specific climate and geographic location. Here are this month’s chores:

1. Build raised beds for next season

If you are wanting some new raised beds in your garden next year, now is the time to start building them! This way they will be finished and ready to plant in the spring.

raised garden beds

2. Plan your vegetable garden for next year

Now is the time to start planning what you want to include in your garden next year! Plan to include vegetables that have done well in the past as well as some new varieties that you will like to try. Also include flowers such as marigolds to help attract bees and other beneficial insects to improve pollination.

I usually plan my garden on a piece of graph paper. I always work in pencil because my plans are sure to change! After you are done place it in a plastic page protector. This will help to keep it clean and dry when you take it outside to plant your garden in the spring.

garden plan on graph paper

3. Look through seed catalogs and order seeds

Nothing beats the winter doldrums better than getting a seed catalog in your mailbox! Many seed companies will send you a free catalog if you request one on their website.

My absolute favorite seed catalog is from Territorial Seed because they are located in Oregon where I live. They carry varieties that do well in my specific climate and I have had great success with seeds I have purchased from them. Other popular seed companies are Park Seed, Burpee Seed, Botanical Interests, and Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Enjoy going through the catalog and dreaming about what seed varieties you want to try. Be sure to order early for the best selection.

Look through seed catalogs and make a list

4. Start a garden journal

Having a garden journal can help you stay organized throughout the season. Keep your garden plan, plant tags, and empty seed packets so you know what you planted this year. Also keep a list of planting dates, harvest logs, and other notes that you can refer back to. Next year you can look back at what went well and what you learned.

Start a garden journal by finding a notebook that you like. I like to use a 3-ring binder so I can easily add and remove pages. Record whatever information you find the most useful. Use dividers to help keep everything organized.

Use a 3 ring notebook as a garden journal

5. Clean and sharpen gardening tools

Now is a great time to clean and sharpen your garden tools so they are ready for the season ahead. Proper care and maintenance will help your tools last longer and function better.

Clean your tools in soapy water and soak in vinegar to remove rust. Also sharpen your pruners, loppers, and shears. Make sure to store your tools in a clean, dry place.

Related Post: How to easily clean rusty pruners

How to easily clean rusty pruners

6. Start pruning fruit trees while dormant

Regular yearly pruning will help develop a strong structure so your trees can handle the load of heavy fruit. It will also help to keep the trees healthy and improve fruit quality.

The best time to prune fruit trees is in the winter months when they are dormant. Winter pruning is easier on the tree and also easier for you because you can better see the framework of the tree without the all the leaves in the way. Pruning fruit trees can be a big job, depending on how many fruit trees you have. Start early and try to finish before the buds begin to break in the spring.

an apple tree that needs to be pruned

7. Harvest vegetables from your winter garden

If you have any vegetables in your winter garden continue to harvest them throughout the season as needed. Carrots, onions, beets, turnips, and other root crops can be stored in the ground and harvested throughout the winter as long as the ground temperature stays above 20-25 degrees or so. The tops will die back but the roots will be crunchy and sweet. Make sure to dig all your root crops before spring because the quality will start to decline when growth begins again.

Harvest carrots throughout the winter

Final Thoughts

Hope you find some time to get in the garden this month! Print the checklist below to help keep you on track. There are also some blank areas so you can add your own items to the list. Happy gardening!

Free Printables:

January Garden Checklist (color version)

January Garden Checklist

January garden checklist
January garden checklist

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How to easily clean rusty pruners

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Why Garden Planning Starts in September

Our garden is starting to wind down for the year.  The green beans are about done, and we just picked our pumpkins. So why am I already planning next year’s garden when this season has not yet finished?

Mandy's Garden 2021.  Garden plan on graph paper with a pencil.
Garden planning starts in September!

The main reason why I do this is so I can overwinter some of my vegetables for bigger and earlier yields next spring. Planting vegetables such as peas and garlic in the fall allows them to start growing and get a good root system developed before going dormant over the winter.  In the spring they start growing as soon as the weather warms and they have a big head start on the season!

In order to plant these crops, I need to know where to put them because they will affect my garden layout in the spring. Read on to learn more about which crops overwinter well and how to start planning your garden for next year.

Crops to Overwinter

Peas (including sweet pea flowers) and garlic are the two crops that I regularly plant in the fall.


Pea seed packets ready for fall planting.
Peas are easy to start in the fall. You will be rewarded with larger and earlier crops in the spring!

The main advantage to starting peas in the fall is that you can get them growing earlier in the spring. Where I live in Oregon our late winter and early spring is usually very rainy.  This makes it difficult to get seeds started because the soil is so wet that the seeds may rot.  By planting peas in the fall, the plants will already be established so they can start growing as soon as the weather gets warm enough. Since peas grow best in cooler weather, you will get more peas before the hot weather comes and they stop producing.

For more information on planting fall peas click here.


Garlic in a bag ready for fall planting
Fall planted garlic may be larger than spring garlic because it has more time to grow in cooler weather.

Garlic can be planted in the fall or in the spring.  I have done both and gotten good results from each method.  Since I am planting garlic that I grew the previous season, I prefer to plant it in the fall so I will not have to store it as long before putting it in the ground.  This way the garlic is less likely to sprout early or have other issues during storage.  Fall planted garlic can also be larger than garlic planted in the spring because it has more time to grow in cooler weather. 

For more information on planting garlic click here.


Many people overwinter onions, which can help to produce larger bulbs.  I have not done this yet but am eager to try!  Maybe next year?

Start Planning Your Garden

A little planning can help your garden thrive. If you start with a good plan your garden will be much more productive!

I usually start by doing a rough sketch of my garden in the fall so I know where to plant these crops.  While I don’t fill in all the details at this point but I have a rough idea of where I want them to go so I can get them in the ground! I usually fill in more information over the winter when I receive my seed catalogs in the mail.

A much more complete guide to garden planning is coming soon, so stay tuned!

Final Thoughts

Do I have you convinced yet?  Hopefully you can try overwintering some of your vegetables for an early spring harvest. As always, Happy Gardening!

Be sure to pin for later!

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