2018-02-15 / From The Garden

Early Planning Gets You Garden Success

By Cynthia Gibson

Since many of our plants and trees are dormant, so are our gardening chores, and that means that this is the perfect time for us to take stock of our yards and garden beds, make lists for either repairing or replacing fences, trellises, arches and raised beds or to design our spring and summer gardens.

Will you be adding extensions to your beds to make them larger? Repairing your raised beds and planning on how many bags of new soil you will need to fill them?

Everyone’s to-do list will be different, but here’s mine, a short and hopefully helpful list of to-do’s and plans for gardening season. When it comes to gardening, it is better to make your plans well in advance, or the supplies or additions you might want just might be sold out.

.Plan your protection from animals. Since we have had little snow for a while, check the bases of your young trees for rabbit or deer damage. Make rings of chicken wire or hard, black plastic netting and place them around the tree bases for protection now. Not only will they already be in place for summer, you will save your trees from damage this winter.


Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. The most effective way to keep animals and birds out of your vegetable gardens is netting. The American netting company is the place to buy superb-quality, green netting that is recyclable. It will last at least four years. The black plastic netting that we can buy at nurseries or other gardening supply stores ensnares too many little wrens and other birds. With green netting, the birds can land on it and not get hurt. Use four wooden stakes, one in each corner of your raised beds, and carefully drape the netting over the stakes. Not only does it work well, its look is pleasing.

.Plan for new raised beds. If you are adding raised beds this summer, start checking out the seed catalogues for their offerings, and take advantage of their sales, but for the new beds themselves, cedar is always the best wood to purchase, as it is slow to rot. When it is weathered (one year only) the wood will turn a lovely silver color. Make sure your electric drill is in good shape, charged, and your Philips head bit is ready to go.

.Cover raised beds for early gardening. There are also new covers for your new or existing beds. Many catalogues and nurseries are selling arc-shaped pieces of plastic tubing for draping your netting over the arcs and creating a tunnel. For early gardening, you can use plastic over the arcs at first to create a low greenhouse-type structure and as the plants grow, remove the plastic and replace with your netting.

.Maintain or purchase fences, arches and trellises. It is time to look at your fences, arches and trellises. Do they need painting or replacing? These features accentuate areas of your garden and make it more interesting. Additionally, all three of these types of structures allow you to grow grapes or beautiful vines, like Clematis or sweet Morning Glories, and they will cover your trellises at high speed.

If you do not want fancy fencing, some of the large, discount garden centers carry perfectly fine selections of fencing.

.Time to seed-shop. It is most definitely time for poring over your seed catalogues! If you grow your flowers or vegetables from seed, make your selections now. The more exotic and many fine heirloom varieties of vegetables or flowers can be ordered from catalogues. Certain flowers can take up to twelve weeks to start sprouting indoors, so get your grow lights ready.

.Design your gardens. Plot out your outdoor flower gardens now. Make your garden design first, then buy the seeds that will achieve the look you want. Remember that our nurseries and garden centers sell seeds as well as already blooming plants and flowers. They should start coming in as early as the second week in February.

We will all be back in our gardens within just a couple of months. But in the meantime, please make sure your bird feeders are full. It is chilly out there and the birds can use a little help.

Return to top