The Thanksgiving meal is behind us, and Christmas is just a few short weeks before us. As the long stretch of winter is setting in, I like to use this time to begin planning my garden for the upcoming year. I’m sure that most of you have heard the old saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” I certainly do not want to fail in my gardening efforts, so I spend a good amount of time planning.
After using graph paper and a sketch pad to lay out our garden beds, I go through a number of seed catalogs and select varieties of plants that are suited for our zone. I order ones that are either tried-and-true for us or that look interesting and fun to try. I know that most seed companies have websites but I still like holding a colorful, paper copy of the catalog in my hands. If you’re not familiar with using seed catalogs you might not know that they are chocked full of botanical information. In many cases, they are free and are better than gardening reference books that you might spend a lot of money on.
Another reason that I like to order my seeds in December is because often those that I want are sold out if I wait until it’s planting season in the spring. I keep a sturdy plastic tub in a cool room and store all my seeds through the winter for the upcoming season. When I’m ready to start my seedlings there is no waiting!
Some of my favorite seed catalogs are the following:
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds https://www.rareseeds.com/
Seed Savers Exchange https://www.seedsavers.org/
Strictly Medicinal Seeds https://strictlymedicinalseeds.com/
Burpee Seeds https://www.burpee.com/
Johnny’s Selected Seeds https://www.johnnyseeds.com/
During the early winter months, it’s a good time to do some soil testing and think about your upcoming irrigation needs. Oklahoma State University Extension has offices in all 77 counties in Oklahoma, and there is help at: https://extension.okstate.edu/county/.
If you’re not sure how to take a soil sample, here is a fact sheet that will guide you: https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/how-to-get-a-good-soil-sample.html. In many communities there is a farmer’s coop or other agricultural service center that will assist in sending your soil sample off for you for a minimal cost.
Once you have your gardening areas and beds laid out, your soil samples taken and your seeds ordered, you can sit back through the winter and enjoy the longer evenings and the season of rest. There’s always plenty of work ahead, but it’s good to be in rhythm with the seasons and to rest when the season of rest is at hand.
This is not just something that I think sounds poetic. God’s Word teaches us that there is value in planning and in living our lives in order and in season. Luke 14:28 tells us, “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?” Prov. 21:5 reminds us that, “The plans of the diligent certainly lead to advantage, but everyone who is in a hurry certainly comes to poverty.” I think that most successful people would agree that taking time to make a good plan is very important.
Lastly, God told us from the beginning of creation that as long as the earth is here that there will be seasons and times to plant and harvest. “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22).
I hear people grumble and complain about the different seasons and which ones they like and dislike, but the reality is God made each of the seasons, and all of them have a purpose.
Let me encourage you to take advantage of the time at hand and do your work to prepare for a successful 2021 gardening season. Pray and ask God to bless your planning and to restore and rejuvenate you during the winter season of rest. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).