One of the most important things a gardener can do in the winter is to begin planning their garden for the next growing season.  This can involve cleaning tools that were left in the shed last fall, taking an inventory of fertilizers, pesticides and soil amendments and, among many other items, creating a list of what you want to grow this year.

When I am making my ‘Must Grow’ list for the looming growing season, I keep a few things in mind: 

#1: What do we like to eat fresh and what should we grow to preserve and eat throughout the winter? 

Crops that preserve well include:










-Beans (dried or canned)


-Winter squash 


(You will want to select crops and varieties that produce well in your location.)  


The list of preservable crops could go on.  It can be daunting to look at the list and wonder where I am going to plant all of those crops?  Do not feel pressured to plant all of them.  Take into consideration what your space will allow and pick a few of your favorites!


For example, I love to plant tomatoes but I do not want them to dominate my whole garden this year.  I will choose a few varieties of tomatoes that will be well suited to canning–like Amish Paste and Roma tomatoes.  I will choose a few tomato varieties that I like to eat fresh which include a plant or two of currant tomatoes–Gold Rush Currant is my favorite variety.  Then, I will choose a variety of a large heirloom tomato for fresh eating because their meaty flesh is so delicious on a summer BLT!  Finally, I will choose a variety of tomato that I have not yet grown.  Green Thumbs stocks 20+ varieties of tomato seeds alone!! There are endless varieties of tomatoes available and growing something familiar yet different each year keeps things interesting and exciting.  I challenge you to grow a variety of tomato that you have never grown in 2022.


#2: What is on my essentials list? Essentials could be crops that you grow every year because of their reliability, because you and your family love to eat these crops, because these particular crops are easy to grow, because you like the looks of the plant, because of their planting time or any other reason. 

Essentials in my garden include tomatillos, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, green peppers, poblano peppers, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, onions, garlic, peas, lettuce, asian greens and herbs like dill, basil, parsley, oregano and rosemary.  

I love to plant crops as soon as the weather allows.  The first plants that can go out and tolerate cold weather include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, lettuce and asian greens.  Putting these plants into the ground first in the spring satisfies my itch to garden when the sun comes out in the spring.  Additionally, I love to eat all of these cold-tolerant vegetables and they are some of the first harvest I receive each year–especially the lettuce.  For all of these reasons, the above listed vegetables are on my essentials list.  What is on your essentials list?

#3: Do not get overwhelmed or frustrated! Regardless if you are a seasoned gardener or a newbie–do what you can! Have fun with your space and remember that gardening is a marathon, not a sprint!

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