Guide to Early Spring Seasonal Gardening

Gain expert advice on keeping track of spring gardening techniques and chores.

  • You don't need to do it all. What does work nicely is to try different enterprises - pigs, bees, timber harvests, whatever - over the years to discover what you like best, whether they fit together well, and what most benefits your family, your land, and your budget. Keep what works.
    Photo by GettyImages/Halfpoint
  • Apply hay in the spring and manure the in fall.
    Photo by Pixabay/pexels
  • In "The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner", by Ann Larkin Hansen, she divides each season into early, mid, and late sections and details what needs to be done during each to keep your garden, field, pasture, orchard, beeyard,, barn, coop, equipment shed, wood-lot, and wildlife habitat in good order.
    Cover courtesy Storey Publishing

In The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner (Story Publishing, 2017) by Ann Larkin Hansen, she believes in working with natural processes and cycles rather than against them. She shows that doing activities and processes in the proper season, when it would naturally occur or when conditions make the job most efficient, is the best way to spread work evenly though the year.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner

Soil thaws and warms through the season to 40 degrees and higher. Cool-season grasses begin to grow, but slowly. Spring small grains are planted as soon as the ground can be worked.

Mud, flood, blossoms, and babies signal the arrival of spring, though the surest sign is the frost going out of the ground  —  and staying out. In early spring the work that’s needed during the growing season really starts: at first it’s just a trickle, but within a couple of weeks it feels like trying to drink from a fire hose. Unless it is dry, the soil is at its softest just after the frost goes, making this the easiest time of year to put fence posts in the ground. As the soil firms and dries, tilling and planting get under way and livestock can go out on pasture (but keep feeding them hay). Traditionally it’s also rock-picking time, if you have rocky soil.

Seasonal Priorities for Early Spring


Plant peas and other cold-tolerant vegetables as soon as the soil softens.
Spread compost and purchased amendments (such as lime and blood meal) on the rest of the garden when the soil begins to firm up.
Till as soon as the soil is dry and firm enough to work.
Start more seed inside for mid- and late-spring plantings.


Check for winterkill in the hayfields as green-up begins.
Reseed any affected areas when the soil can be worked and at the same time that you disc and overseed winter feeding areas.
Spread manure (from winter feeding areas and the barn) in the crop fields as soon as the soil is dry enough to run equipment without rutting or getting stuck in the mud, then till under both manure and winter cover crops.
Pick up rocks.
Finish tillage, such as discing or dragging, to prepare a good seedbed.
Plant spring small grains as soon as possible.

1/5/2018 8:23:45 PM

It is January 2018 in northern California and my greenhouse is coming Tuesday. How long it will take to set up, I don't know. Probably very little done it until I get more gear/equipment, which takes more money. Hope we have better luck this season. Happy gardening, everyone.

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