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Alabama Gardens: Gardening to-do list


‘Listing into Summer’

Developing a gardening to-do list

Katie Jackson

This time of year, as the number of gardening chores and opportunities increases with the temperatures, trying to keep up with all the garden projects we want and need to tackle can be difficult. But there is a special, almost magical, gardening tool that always comes to my rescue: the gardening to-do list.

For me, a to-do list helps weed through the clutter and, when I get to check things off as complete, offers me such a sense of satisfaction. And though I firmly believe that list-making should be a personal endeavor, sometimes it helps to have examples as starting points, so here’s a glimpse at how I “organize” my to-do lists—and a glimpse into how list-obsessed I am.

I begin my listing process in January by developing an annual garden manifesto that chronicles all the things I’d LIKE to accomplish in the coming year (which is not to say I WILL accomplish them). I also keep a short, cryptic month-to-month list that reminds me of the major things I need to focus on each month. For example, January is my “Plan and Prune” month, April is “Plant and Fertilize” month and November is my month to “Winterize and Organize.”

I post both the manifesto and month-to-month list near my desk as constant reminders of what’s coming up and I also keep copies of each in a spiral-bound notebook (I still like to hold paper in my hand, though more tech-savvy folks might do this on a computer) and use that notebook to make and keep more lists—yes, MORE lists.

Among those additional lists is a masterlist of all the typical garden chores that might occur in any month, which I divide into five categories: Prepare, Plant, Maintain, Monitor and Enjoy. Not a very clever list, but one I can use throughout the year to develop my monthly plans. Here’s my philosophy behind each category:

Prepare. I list all the things I need to do before I get started with a project or chore such as work and enhance the soil, get equipment and tools ready for use or select and buy plants, seeds or other supplies.

Plant. This category includes a list of all the things I want to plant during the year including fruits, vegetables and ornamentals, and a list of general planting dates for each of them.

Maintain. Here I keep a list of all the chores that are likely to be necessary in the coming month—water, mow, prune, mulch, weed, deadhead and the like.

Monitor. In this category I list all the things I need to keep an eye out for during each month—bugs, weeds, disease, nutrient deficiencies, new growth, ripening fruits and vegetables, etc.

Enjoy. This is actually my favorite category. It’s where I list ways to enjoy the garden more, including events I may want to attend, the dates of full moons (I love looking at the garden in moonlight), names of books or publications I may want to read and all the things I should appreciate each season in the garden such as birds, blooms, changes in weather, etc.


April Gardening Tips

  • Clean out garden sheds and storage areas.
  • Begin to mow lawns regularly as needed.
  • Sod new lawn areas.
  • Plant summer and fall-blooming bulbs, summer annuals and bedding plants.
  • Plant berries (strawberries, blackberries and raspberries).
  • Start seed for heat-loving vegetable crops such as beans, corn and melons.
  • Transplant tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and sweet potatoes into the garden.
  • Get a copy of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System publication “Planting Guide for Home Gardening in Alabama” to help determine planting dates for summer fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep track of rainfall amounts to determine the moisture needs of your plants.
  • Feed the birds.
  • Celebrate Earth Day (April 22) and National Arbor Day (April 24).