Year-Round Gardening Tasks

Use these checklists to take care of your garden in every season.

| November 2017

“The Backyard Gardener” by Kelly Orzel (Lyons Press, 2017) is a comprehensive gardening guide that offers useful advice to help readers build their confidence and know-how. This excerpt from chapter 6 shares what to do in each season and month to prepare and tend to your garden.

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I know many gardeners can’t wait to dig their hands into the soil come January, but I almost enjoy the self-imposed exile from the garden. Nature is resting and I am hibernating. There is a time and place for everything in the garden: chores to take care of, seeds to sow, seedlings to plant, and gardens to grow and harvest. So let nature be your guide and harmonize with the environment.

When I first began gardening, I had almost no direction. All the books talked as if I already knew when to sow my seeds or transplant them out. So as I share with you my garden calendar, it is important to keep in mind what part of the country you live in. Whether you live in chilly USDA hardiness zone 5B like me, the more temperate climates of zones 6, 7, and 8, or the warm, almost tropical 9+, you’ll need some direction. So as you look over the monthly chores below, remember you might need to consider your garden region and adjust when you plant out your tomatoes or harvest your cabbage.


There’s nothing like starting out the year with a bundle of your favorite new and old seed catalogs. This is the moment when the eyes are bigger than the garden and you’ve got to rein it in. Also, if you’ve already been growing for a few years (or more) and have kept a garden journal, break it out! Look over what worked and what didn’t. Did you test out a new variety of lettuce that you just loved or wish you had given a bit more room to your brussels sprouts? Now is the time to make note of it and factor all those things into this year’s garden.

Planning is best done when you’re not at the nursery and not in the spring garden. Think about what you really want to grow and what you ate or enjoyed. Maybe you need more herbs — and if so, you need a new bed to grow them in. Where do you plan to build it?

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