Learn all about creating your spring garden plans with these helpful tips and my experience as a beginner gardener in the Midwest.
Although it is still January, I’m thrilled to begin my spring 2022 garden plans. I have several vegetables I’ll be planting that I grew last year that I’m excited for growing again.
Additionally, I’m going to be adding in some flowers that didn’t do well last year because I’m willing to try again.
Flowers help attract pollinators that vegetable and fruit plants need to produce crops. They’re also a great way to add some ambiance to your little homestead. Fresh, free flowers are the absolute best.
Hopefully some of my ideas will resonate with you, especially if you live in the Midwest (near zone 6B, like me) or are gardening in clay soil. If you’re a beginner, some of these might be great to know as far as timelines and methods go.
Without further ado, let’s get into my spring garden plans…
Soil preparation garden plans
This year, before I plant any seeds, I’ll be adding compost to the soil in order to add some nutrients back in. Our clay soil is pretty fertile, but it doesn’t hurt to add compost.
I just started composting about a year ago. I can’t believe it’s been that long! Compost is free fertilizer and is gentler on the earth. It’s low maintenance and pays off big time.
This year I’m pretty stoked to start actually using it, though. A couple weeks before I plant seeds, I’ll spread out compost throughout my garden and then till it to work it into the soil.
Last year we used this hand tiller that worked pretty well. This is great for small spaces, but I may need to invest in something a little more heavy duty for a bigger space this year.
I don’t plan on using any store-bought fertilizers, unless I absolutely need it as a last resort. I am dedicated to being as self-sufficient as possible. If there’s one piece of advice you take from me, it’s to start composting now. It can take months to fully break food waste down naturally, longer in colder climates. If you have a spring garden you’re planning for, you’ll want to begin composting now.
What to grow this year
Garlic & onions
This year I plan on growing onions and garlic because I cook with them so frequently. They are so versatile and known for deterring certain pests such as aphids, Japanese beetles, borers, and more. They are odorous and many insects that could potentially harm other crops will not want to be nearby if these are in place. I highly recommend adding these to your garden.
I plan on placing some near my blueberry bush, cherry trees, and more in a small plot on the lower end of my backyard. The onions will likely be outlining the edge of my garden to keep certain pests out.
I grew Roma tomatoes last year and they were magnificent. I didn’t have to do a whole lot to keep these in good shape. Paste tomatoes like these are great for making marinara or slicing and using in Italian dishes, which is exactly why I need them in my garden. I blanch them and make the best marinara sauce ever.
I recommend growing this variety because they grow quickly and they’re so versatile. Tomatoes in general can produce quite a bit over the season, so you can’t go wrong with growing these.
Bell peppers and jalapeños will also be grown this year because my husband loves peppers and anything spicy. They can be added to so many summer dishes that they’re a perfect addition. They love full sun and will do wonderfully in the perfect spot I’ve already plotted for them.
If you love adding these to Mexican dishes, definitely plant these in your garden this year.
I also want to grow watermelons again this year. Last year they all didn’t survive after transplanting, so I won’t be starting them inside first. I planted a second set in early summer in a different spot but planted them too close together and they got powdery mildew.
Unfortunately, we had very few of them.
This year I am going to follow instructions and space my sugar babies about 6 feet apart in the full sun that they love and all should be well.
I had a lot of trial and error with these last year, but I’m confident I know exactly what I need to do to remedy any potential issues that could arise (or that I can prevent).
I may plant a couple of cantaloupe plants also, just because we love enjoying melons in the summer months. They’re so full of nutrients and so hydrating that I just can’t turn them down. If you plant these, be sure to space them six feet apart to prevent powdery mildew.
I grew 3-4 different varieties of pumpkins last year for harvesting in the fall, but I do think I’ll start them a bit earlier this year. I think I prefer to have them by early fall instead of the middle of fall. I grew Casper, Cinderella, and white baby boo mini pumpkins and they were SO ADORABLE.
You can see how I decorated the patio with them last fall (though I supplemented with some from the store). If you decorate with pumpkins a lot during the fall, you’ll save tons of money by growing your own. Some of the fancier looking ones can get pricey when bought from stores.
Marigolds were some of my best-growing crops last year. They will be sprinkled in with my tomato plants to deter pests and will also be around my cherry trees and berry bushes. Possibly my grape vines, too. These are such a no-fuss flower to plant and they bloom in gorgeous yellows and oranges that are perfect once fall comes around.
I highly recommend them in your garden if they’re the only flower you grow.
I really want to try to grow some sweet pea flowers and some snapdragons this year as well. They’re so pretty and I’d love to have fresh florals in my home throughout the summer.
Plus, the pollinators. I’m always thinking of our beloved pollinators (bees, hummingbirds, moths, and even wasps). If you like herbs, you can plant lavender, chives, and rosemary, which are all low maintenance and provide food for our pollinator friends, too.
What I’m experimenting with in my garden plans
I’ve mentioned several areas in my garden where I’ll be using permaculture techniques. Permaculture refers to a thriving ecosystem that is self-sufficient and sustainable.
Permaculture techniques allow for natural pest prevention and provide a beautiful area with a variety of species growing. Making additions to my cherry trees, for example, will make the guild multifunctional because they will not only deter pests but fertilize the soil and attract pollinators. It’s a win-win situation.
With permaculture practices, you’re not using pesticides to kill things. Instead, add in things that will prevent them in the first place or naturally attract other predators that will prey on them. It provides a wonderfully complex and thriving ecosystem for a healthy yard and more nutritious plants.
To go a bit deeper into my cherry tree example, I will also be adding in garlic bulbs, marigolds, and rosemary. They will deter pests and attract pollinators to keep my cherry trees healthy–which will allow more cherries to be produced. This method, specifically, is called companion planting and it is so practical.
In addition to experimenting with permaculture this year, I’ll be making a couple other changes: I’ll be adding in another fruit tree and changing the type of trellis for my two grape varieties.
Last year, the spot I planted my two cherry trees in ended up not getting enough sun. Thankfully I caught this soon enough to carefully transplant them to a sunnier spot in my yard. But one of them didn’t make it. I need another tree because there’s a 50/50 chance the one that is still growing is the sweet variety that needs a companion to cross-pollinate.
I know, I should have recorded which was which so I’d know for sure. I’ll add another sour variety that is self-pollinating, so if the other one requires it, it’ll be there. (If I end up having two sour varieties that will be okay because I will mainly be using them for baking anyway.) It should work out just fine.
Word to the wise: Keep your different varieties recorded for exactly this reason. Learn from my mistakes.
Lastly, I’ll be changing the trellis for my grapes.
Our wooden one looked so pretty and elegant last year, but it clearly was not very strong. Winds blew it down and it broke into two pieces. Better for me to find out now than later, I suppose. Once the grapes start growing in a year or so they would be too heavy for that overpriced wooden trellis anyway.
Again, learn from this mistake and invest in something that is sturdy.
As you can see, gardening isn’t as complicated as some may believe. It can be as easy as planting some seeds, weeding a garden by hand, and harvesting them when they’re ready. Of course there are a few other things to know, but sometimes we can overcomplicate things.
Seek out help from fellow gardeners, online or in person, when you’re unsure of something.
Do your research.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes because sometimes that’s the best way to learn. Gardening is supposed to be fun!