5 Late Winter Family Gardening Tips

5 Gardening Tips for Late Winter

Starting seeds in early March is an excellent way to get the whole family excited about the arrival of spring.

Spring is just around the corner and planning your garden with your kids while there’s still snow on the ground can be both fun and educational.  There’s no shortage of garden prep that you can be doing right now. Here are five things you can do to plan and prepare for your gardens this summer:

SEED CATALOGS: Gather your kids around and peruse thorough seed catalogs. Not only do some make for good reading (Fedco Seeds is my favorite), but it will give you the opportunity to learn a bit more about the culture of growing specific favorite plants.  Let your kids pick out veggies and flowers they’d like to grow in the garden and get them involved in this late winter tradition.

START SEEDS: This is a great thing to do with kids!  You have not capitulated on getting them that Golden Retriever they have been asking for, but what about giving them that…eggplant they have been asking for?! Ok, they never asked for it, but think what fun for the whole family it would be to start veggie seeds indoors while there’s still snow on the ground? This morning my 5yo daughter Priya was scooping the soil into planting cell for our garden veggies, while my 8yo son Forrest labeled all the plant tags and I sowed the seeds.  It’s a great family activity!

PLAN AN ORCHARD: Get your kids excited about growing fruit in their own back yard by planning an orchard!  Even the smallest back yards (providing you have some sun) can accommodate some of the dwarf fruit tree varieties. People are often surprised to find out that I grow over 20 kinds of fruits in my back yard here in Chesterfield, MA. Apple, apricot, plum, peach, pear, asian pear, persimmons, cherry, strawberry (June and ever-bearing), currants, blackberries (thornless and thorny), raspberries (early, mid and late), blueberries (early, mid and late), grapes, hardy banana, hardy orange, paw paw, watermelon, cantaloupe, beach plum & kiwis. All are organically managed.

If you are looking for locally grown and totally funky fruit check out Tripple Brook Farm in Southampton, MA. Slightly less esoteric, but great quality is a family run nursery in upstate NY that I often use, Cummings Nursery.

BUILD A FRAME: Get your kids to use their math skills by helping to design a cold frame or small green house. – Have you been picking spinach, mesclun, chard, kale, etc… over the last month. We have and not with to much work either. At its simplest, with a few old recycled windows, scrap 2×4’s and the carpentry skills of Bob-The-Builder, you are on your way to 4 season gardening.

PERMACULTURE: Plan to incorporate more edibles into your landscape. Why not have a plant do double duty, look beautiful and feed your family?  Look through Fedco Seeds and select perennial edibles that you can grow in your own backyard!


Jim McSweeney

Jim is a certified arborist, certified horticulturist, licensed pesticide applicator (needed for the application of organic pesticides in MA) & a professional landscape designer with over 15 years experience.  He is also the owner of Hilltown Tree & Garden LLC.  Jim is on the faculty at the New England Wildflower Society, teaching courses on a diverse range of topics.  He lives and works in Zone 5 (Chesterfield, MA) with his family. Once a month here on Hilltown Families you will find timely gardening tips, from a pro in the field, that can be easily used by both avid and novice gardeners, specific to Western MA.

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