This is a rough guide with suggestions for what you can do to get ready for your spectacular Spring / Summer garden!
Keep in mind, of course, where you live and how the weather affects you. I live in Northern California wine country, so we have mild winters and can garden year round, with different crops. Yes, it does freeze here periodically at night, but no snow, and average daytime winter temps in the 50s and 60s. So, depending where you live, you can just start these projects according to your own weather. A little bit later in colder places, earlier in warmer climates.I don't want to get too technical because gardening should be fun, and done at your leisure...as long as you get those crops planted in time for summer!
1. Build you soil: One thing I work on all winter is composting. I have a big compost
tumbler which is off the ground, with a crank for turning. I dump all organic kitchen scraps (veggies, fruit, egg shells, coffee grounds) in there, with the exception of meat and bones. We also have chickens, so when I clean the coop, the poop and bedding goes in too. I know this is harder in snowy areas, but there are ways to make it work. Especially if you compost in one of these bins, off the ground. Here is a great link to composting if you need suggestions. When my composter gets full, I empty it in the garden and spread it out, and just let it sit until I'm ready for planting! I manage several large loads over winter so it's ready to go in spring.
2. Plant your perennials: Things like trees, shrubs, vines, bare-root roses. Once it's hot, it's too late!
3. Start your seeds indoors: If you want to get a little jump on those indispensable summer veggies like tomatoes, squash, sweet and hot peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, start seeds indoors under lights in late February or early March. I like to use a little larger seed starting container, the 3 1/2 inch ones instead of the tiny ones. For one thing, I don't need so many of each plant, and if you have the room, it lets them develop a better root system and grow a little bigger before transplanting. Most plants are ready to plant after about 6 weeks...but this way, if your weather isn't cooperating, you can wait a couple extra weeks without damage to your plants. For a simple garden planting guide for your area, here's The Farmer's Almanac guide, and you just type in your own zip code!
4. Start slow developing flowers indoors: Start seeds of flowers that are slow to develop, such as lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum), wax begonias, petunias, and geraniums.
5. Direct seed colder climate vegetables: Direct-seed radishes, spinach, carrots, peas, onions, and cabbage family vegetables. Once again, use the Farmer's Almanac guide to customize for your area.
6. Time to cut down your cover crops: If you planted cover crops this winter, it might be time to cut them. You can chop them up and leave them to compost in the beds, or add the material to your compost pile.
7. Start planning your garden layout: There are several online garden planners, but I think my favorite is the Farmer's Almanac Garden Planner. This is a fun and creative way to plan your garden, allowing for fences, planter boxes, flowers, shrubbery, even patios, decks, furniture, you can plan your entire yard if you want!
8. Work on those bigger projects like raised beds and planter boxes: There's always plenty to do in your garden, and if you want to add special touches, they can seem overwhelming. If you start early, it's more enjoyable and I find I can enjoy different aspects of gardening year round! Build or repair fencing. Put together raised bed boxes. Put up some cute bird houses. Decorate flower pots...paint rocks...make stepping stones!
There's a world of creativity for you to explore!