It’s never too early to start planning your garden—and January is the perfect time to plant the seed that will produce your 2022 bounty

What better way to kick off the New Year than by aspiring to fill your plate with fresh produce all year long? But like with any New Year’s resolution, in order to follow through, we have to start with small goals and work our way up from there. The best way to ensure you’re going to keep up with your new garden is to have a solid and achievable plan, so let’s get started.

1. Plan what you’d like to grow

Winter months are great for planning and paying attention to what vegetables you eat on a regular basis, then researching how difficult they are to grow. Some of your favourites, like peppers or cabbage, might take some practice, but easy-to-grow produce like beans and tomatoes are great for beginners. It’s up to you what you’d like to take on, but make sure not to be overly ambitious or you’ll become overwhelmed.vegetables from gardenPhoto by Zoe Schaeffer on Unsplash

2. Plan out your plot

Before spring arrives, get outside and see where you’d like to arrange your new garden. Make sure that the spot has an adequate amount of sunlight for the vegetables you’d like to grow—for example, tomatoes require between six to eight hours per day, while salad greens can get away with between three to four hours of sunlight.

If you’re not ready to dive into a full plot, you can start by growing in pots and planters while you get the hang of it, then increase the size as you begin to fall in love with gardening.

Make sure your pots or plot are in an accessible area so that you remain motivated to go out and tend to your garden when productivity is in full swing. Also, be sure to monitor high-wind areas and avoid any microclimates in your yard that might affect your plants’ growth.

3. Plan out garden beds

Once you have your plot(s) picked out in your yard, it’s time to figure out the size and style of beds you’d like to create. Have a look at your chosen vegetables’ spacing (listed on the seed packets or website) and take the required spacing into account when planning out the size of your space—your veggies will want ample space to grow, so don’t pack them in.

You’ll want to plan for your beds to be around three to four feet across, which is narrow enough for you to reach the centre from either side. Narrow walkways and paths are important in your garden so that you can easily get through and not have to step into the bed and compact your soil. Again, be sure to start smaller and build up from there. A small but well-maintained garden will be more successful than a large, poorly managed one.

4. Purchase seeds

Picking your seeds is a little more complicated than we’ve been led to believe. As tempting as it can be to purchase seeds from grocery stores, let’s pause and see where these seeds came from and how they were selected. Most grocery store seeds are GMO seeds, laced with pesticides and aren’t cultivated for specific growing zones and climates. Be sure to find a seed company closest to your growing zone, or one that sells varieties that will thrive in your climate. Looking for open-pollinated seeds is a bonus when choosing seed varieties, as they are often untreated and able to “go to seed” for you to save for your next growing toolsPhoto by Leigh Skomal on Unsplash

5. Invest in tools and materials

Buying basic but quality tools is the difference between a strenuous gardening season and a seamless one. Some essential garden tools include a rake, a spading fork, garden gloves, a trowel, a transplanter and a cultivator. Check resale marketplaces for quality metal tools and avoid cheaper plastic options—your body will thank you!

Spending the winter planning your garden will add some much-needed life and growth into the cold season. Not only will it lift your spirits, but it will also ease some of the potential stress closer to the growing season. With a well-thought-out plan, your garden has a better chance of thriving early on, which will inspire you to keep growing.