10 Tips for Starting your garden

Gardening Season 2020 Tips

It’s gardening season! Gardening offers a variety of benefits such as moderate exercise, added exposure to Vitamin D, and elevates overall mental and physical health. Not only is it fun to eat the fruits and vegetables from your own backyard, it’s also environmentally sustainable and helps contribute to the local food ecosystem. Learn the ins and outs about growing different types of vegetables, California native plants, and fruits through with the resources provided below. From beginner to pro, these gardening tips will ensure a bountiful 2020 for all.


Step 1
Get Organized
First things first, start by cleaning and organizing your gardening space. Clearing up last season’s weeds, raking dead leaves, and removing diseased plants will freshen up your garden and make it ready to grow new life. Take some time to remove undesired plants or shrubs and arrange for the safe removal of trees as needed.
Step 2
Make a Plan
After clearing debris from last year, you’ll be ready to map your space for this coming year! It can be helpful to physically draw out your garden to figure out what you want to plant where. Visit Sloat Garden’s website for information about which plants grow well together. Journal about your garden to keep track of it throughout the season and help you make it even better next year.
Step 3
Find Your Tools
Before delving into planting, take stock of your current tools and identify new tools you will need. Clean and sharpen your cutting shears, gather your shovels, and dust off your gloves. Next, head to your nearest nursery to purchase new tools and plants for this season. Napa County residents can check out the local Outdoor Supply Hardware, Mid City Nursery, and Van Windens Garden Center to stock up!
Step 4
Compost Your (Organic) Waste
Composting is a great way to divert your waste from landfill while replenishing your soil nutrients! Plant debris, dried leaves, grass clippings, and vegetarian kitchen scraps can be composted and used to fertilize next season’s soil. However, make sure to dispose of diseased and rotted plants in the landfill. To learn more about how to start a compost pile or a worm bin at home, visit Napa Recycyling’s website.
Step 5
Be Water Wise
Gardening is a big step forward in shrinking your water footprint. Local food uses the least water, and what’s more local than your own backyard!? If you want to take water conservation to the next level, try choosing native plants, make sure your soil is healthy and moist (more on that on Tip #6), and research how much water each of your plants needs. It’s also important to keep an eye on your irrigation lines (if you have them) to check for leaks and monitor water flow; early Spring is a great time to check your whole irrigation system to ensure its efficiency. For the best techniques and tools for watering your plants, visit CalFlora’s website.
Step 6
Stay Soil Smart
Healthy, moist soil is the cornerstone of a thriving garden. Sheet compost your yard to maintain soil nutrients, retain moisture, and prevent weed growth. To learn more about sheet composting, read the Napa Master Gardener Column.
Step 7
How to Start Seedlings
Can’t wait for frosty nights to end so you can get gardening? You don’t have to! Get ahead for the growing season by starting your seedlings indoors about six weeks before the last frost. We recommend sprouting your seedling under a grow light or on a heating pad. Check out the Farmer’s Almanac for more tips for starting seeds indoors.
Step 8
Natural/Organic Remedies for Dealing with Pests
Even the healthiest of gardens have pesky pests and fungus growth. You can preemptively spray dormant fruit trees with dormant spray to help curb future disease and pest issues. The treatment is ideally sprayed in the winter, but can be used until early-March at the latest. Read these articles from Oregon State University and UC Davis for more information. In case your plants do run into health issues, check out these natural remedies from Veggie Gardener that you can make at home and are environmentally safe to use in your garden.
Step 9
Best Plants for Napa County
Many plant species have their own unique planting and growing seasons. Did you know that potatoes can be planted in the winter and the summer!? The UC Master Gardeners Seasonal Planting Guide is an incredible resource that maps planting and harvest seasons for Napa County produce. Use the guide to help you map out your garden for all of 2020.
Step 10
Garden Calendar
Plants are like pets; they need lots of TLC! Check out SacBee’s month-by-month guide to success in the garden for a timeline of what kind of care plants need every month of the year. One tip from the article: hang old CDs (or anything highly reflective) on fruit trees just before harvest season to scare away birds.


Hungry for more great gardening and local food system tips? Sign Up for our eNewsletter and check out the links below!



6 Unexpected Health Benefits of Gardening
10 Essential Spring Gardening Tips
12 Homemade Natural Remedies for The Vegetable Garden
14 Simple Gardening Tips and Tricks
20 Essential Spring Gardening Tips
A month-by-month guide to success in the garden
Garden Calendar
Month-by Month Guide from Sunset Magazine for Norcal
CUESA Cultivating A Healthy Food System: Seasonality Chart