By Joanna Pappo, assistant gardener with Village Vancouver

The gardening season has ended for many gardeners, but it’s never too early to start thinking about next year, and there are plenty of things you can do in December to start planning for your spring garden.

Cleaning up

Deadheading: Remove dead and dying flowers by cutting the stem with pruners at a 45 degree angle. This cleans up the look of the plant, and promotes more growth.

Composting dead plant matter: For annuals that are finishing off their growing season, you can pull them out of the ground from the roots and compost the dead plant matter. For any fading or yellowing perennials, you can cut the plants about 1-2 inches above the base, leaving roots intact until they grow back next season.

Weeding: Pull out any weeds left in your garden for a fresh start in spring.

Soil-building & protection

Mulching beds: In order to insulate the soil and protect it from erosion, place a thick layer (around 3 inches) of mulch over the top of your garden beds. You can use leaves, bark mulch, straw, or even cardboard.

Fertilizing and adding soil amendments: Before mulching your beds, you can add soil amendments, fertilizer, and compost as needed to improve the quality of your soil. To figure out what your soil might need, check out this helpful guide.

Mapping out your spring garden

Mapping the sun and shade: Creating a map of where in your garden gets the most sun and shade will help you know where to plant different crops based on the amount of sunlight they need. To help you map it out, you can use

Container planting: Consider planting in containers if you want to expand the amount of growing space you have. Herbs and vegetables such as tomatoes, kale, beets, beans, radishes, lettuce, peppers and onions typically grow well in containers.

Companion planting: Plan to grow companion plants next to each other to promote growth and ward off pests. Similarly, there are some crops you should avoid planting close to one another. To help you plan, visit the West Coast Seeds guide to companion planting.

More things to consider

  • Planting more perennials
  • Planting pollinator attractant plants for bees and other pollinators
  • Planting to support native biodiversity
  • Rotating crops: avoiding planting certain crops in the same place (e.g. tomatoes, garlic) next year (helps reduce potential disease issues)
  • Plant for natural pest protection (ie nasturtium, borage)
  • Planting drought resistant plants
  • Planting for natural pest protection (ie nasturtium, borage)
  • Leaving part of your garden wild (helps create habitat for wildlife)
  • Participating in the Westside Permaculture Corridor