It may be too early to plant, but it’s not too early to plan! Get a head start on your 2020 garden with our planting guide.

It’s a new year, and that means a new growing season is ahead of us! While it’ll still be a while yet before we can get our hands dirty in the garden, it’s never too early to start planning your garden layout for the year. We’ve made it easy by putting together this  planting calendar for zone 7a, our USDA zone in Hockessin. Every garden has micro-climates that are a bit more protected or slower to warm depending on your site, so think about your sun and wind exposure before planting.

 

February

February is all about planning, dreaming, and hibernating. Like our gardens we can rest in preparation for the spring season of vigorous growth. Gardening activities to enjoy now include:

  • Plan your garden layout. Break out a sketchpad and a trusty pen and start imagining how you’d like to structure your garden for the year. Don’t forget to include plenty of native perennials, which support beneficial wildlife, require little maintenance, and return year after year. Planning and planting native plants for birds & pollinators will bring an added layer of life and joy to your garden. 

  • Try a gardening class. There are lots of classes offered in our area at Mt. Cuba Center, Longwood Gardens, The University of Delaware Botanic Gardens and the Delaware Center for Horticulture. Browse their offerings and we will see you there!

  • Build or buy a cold frame garden. Cold frame gardening lets you get growing much earlier! These structures are excellent for protecting your plants from the harsh elements.

  • Love. February is the month of love. Reflect on how much you loved watching the hummingbirds feast on your salvia, how the butterflies flocked to your phlox, and how the bees buzzed at the baptisia! Celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving a gift card from Gateway! Just call us at 302-239-2727 and we will mail one right out for you!

 

 

March

In March, the mercury is on the rise! Many landscapers are ready to get busy and want to mulch your beds at this time of year. Beware of letting too much mulch accumulate in your beds, and make sure the mulch is not piled up against the stems of shrubs or the trunks of trees. Plants do not grow in nature in wood mulch. Take your gardening cues from nature. Take a walk in the woods and observe. Plants thrive in a bit of composting leaf litter which acts as a natural fertilizer as well as mulch. Here are some other tasks to get your hands in the dirt!

  • Repot your houseplants. If you’ve noticed some of your houseplants are growing root-bound, March is the perfect time to size up their pots. They’re right at the end of their dormancy now and will adapt well to a change in environment. We carry Organic Mechanics Potting Soil as well as Bumper Crop Organic Potting Soil. We have a nice selection of pottery as well. Stop in for some fresh inspiration and supplies.

  • Prepare garden beds. Once the soil is workable, you can start tidying and enriching your garden beds to prepare them for planting. Avoid tilling; it destroys the soil structure and exposes buried weed seeds to the sunlight.

  • Visit us to select some seeds to start. In early March, start lettuce, swiss chard, beets, cabbage, kale, and spinach indoors. You can also direct sow these seeds in April into the garden. Your seed packets should tell you exactly how long your seeds take to germinate. At Gateway Garden Center we have a big selection of organic and non-GMO seeds.

  • Plant peas in the garden on St Patrick’s Day. It’s tradition!

  • Prune trees and shrubs. Pick a warmer day for this task! This is a good time of year to prune trees and shrubs, with the exception of early spring blooming plants. While pruning, make sure to scout for suckers at the base of the trees and shrubs—the earlier you remove them, the better.

  • Prune spent perennial foliage. Perennials are just popping up in your garden and this is exactly the time to prune off last year's foliage. At Gateway we advocate leaving perennial foliage from fall and not trimming until spring. This protects the crown of the plant from rotting in wet winters.

  • Plant new perennials, shrubs, and trees. Our nursery stock starts arriving in March and is ready to go into your gardens as soon as the ground is easy to dig. Planting in early spring, before deciduous trees and shrubs are making a big push to flower and grow, is ideal. Try planting low growing perennials and shrubs to reduce the need for mulching. Science proves that plants thrive when grown in communities as opposed to mulch. Shady gardens can be filled with ferns and carex, which create a durable groundcover, smothering weeds.

  • Spread corn gluten on your lawn. Corn Gluten is a seed inhibitor which will prevent those pesky crabgrass seeds and other spring weed seeds from germinating. Do not use it where you are seeding your lawn! Our corn gluten is an organic fertilizer as well which provides a slow, reliable green up without promoting too much top growth which is unsustainable for the roots.

 

April

April may be the best month of the year! Spring energizes us and we feel the joy of nature everywhere we look. This is the time of hope and promise as we return to the garden in earnest. 

  • Tidy up your garden beds. If you have not gotten a chance to tidy up your beds, now is the time to uncover your perennials and prune out any dead branches on your trees and shrubs. Prune your grasses and butterfly bushes close to the ground.

  • Start warm weather veggies like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant. for outdoor planting after May 15th, typically, our last frost date.Check out our seed starting blogs!

  • Start annual and herb seeds indoors as well. Start annuals like cleomes, coleus, snapdragons, ageratums, amaranths, nicotiana, lavatera, petunia, impatiens, and salvia in early April so they’re ready to plant after the last frost. Start herbs like basil, parsley, thyme, and sage near a sunny windowsill in your kitchen so you can use them as soon as they start to mature. You may need to supplement seedlings with a grow light for a few weeks yet. For a complete education on seed starting, Joe Lampl’s guide is a must-read.

  • Prune your rose bushes. Prune and shape rose bushes now. Look out for our blog about the individual needs of roses.

  • Leave hydrangeas alone! Do not prune any of your hydrangeas that bloom in the spring! You will be removing their buds. You may prune hydrangeas of the paniculata family that bloom mid to late summer.

  • Treat yourself to a trip to Gateway Gardens. In April our garden center in Hockessin will be full of inspiration and new things to discover!

  • Pause to admire your early bloomers. Here come the pansies, snapdragons and primulas! Hellebores and daffodils are still in bloom and by the end of the month bleeding hearts will start to show their beautiful flowers. Catmint will start blooming and continue for a full 12 weeks. You will be so happy that you planted catmint! Enjoy theYou  pollinators feasting on what you have provided for them. 

  • Transplant early-season edibles. Cool-weather greens like lettuce, cabbage and collards, as well as broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts may be ready to transplant by mid-to-late April.

     

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May

Spring is here for good! The last frost in our zone is typically around May 15th, so in mid-to-late May, you can start planting everything we have to offer! Our inventory changes weekly so be sure to follow our social media posts to see what’s new. Or better yet, make Gateway a regular stop! 

  • Schedule a visit with Gateway’s Garden Coach. Nancy Bell will spend an hour or more with you walking your property and helping you find solutions to any gardening concerns. She can help with designing new gardens as well as renovating areas that need refreshing.  

  • Plant late-season bulbs. Start planting summer-blooming bulbs, like dahlias and gladioli, in groups every week, beginning in mid-May, to extend the bloom time of these gorgeous warm-weather favorites. 

  • Start transplanting your starter plants. Be sure the soil is crumbly, not clumpy and wet to place your small plants. They are not accustomed to wind, hard rain and hot sun without a window to soften the rays. Plan to protect them in their first few weeks. We can tell you how.

  • Direct-seed summer herbs and vegetables. By the last week of April and the first week of May, you can direct-seed beans, beets, corn, and potatoes in the garden. Early May also brings ideal conditions for planting herbs like lavender, parsley and chives outside . By mid-May, it should be warm enough to transplant your edible seedlings from indoors.. Tender herbs like cilantro and basil do best when night temperatures warm up, so plant these mid-May as well. 

  • The tropicals are here. Mandevillas and hibiscus for sunny spots will reward you with tons of bloom all summer. Palms and ferns will make your patios feel tropical and lush.

 

June & July

By now, we hope you’re spending more time enjoying your garden than laboring in it! Summer tasks should focus on maintaining the beauty you’ve worked so hard to create. In mid-summer, you can still direct sow very fast-growing flowers like zinnias, which will give you a final wave of blooms before the mercury dips.

  • Celebrate Perennials in Mid Summer. Butterflies and bees are looking for nectar and habitat in the summer. Bring life to your garden with the addition of plants that provide beauty as well as the vital needs of nature. We have a great selection of pollinator plants for shade and sunny gardens.    

  • Add some colorful containers. The summer sun calls for oodles of colorful flowers, so turn up the brightness in your garden by adding some pretty container gardens or hanging baskets!

  • Scout for signs of pests and disease. The best way to control issues in the garden without using chemicals is to catch them early. Keep an eye out for signs of disease, like mold or blight, and pests, like aphids, so you can treat early with natural methods like pruning and attracting beneficial insects.

 

August

The dog days of summer cause us all to seek the cool pleasure of the shade. Make a visit to Chanticleer in Wayne, PA. It is a fun, contemporary garden full of delightful spaces. 

  • Purchase spring bulbs. Start planting spring-blooming bulbs and rhizomes, like iris, during the twilight of summer into early fall. Continue planting waves of spring-blooming bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils, into late October for staggered, but consistent, spring color.

  • Plant new shrubs and trees. Late in August, or even very early in September, trees slow down on their push to grow larger but continue to grow roots. This is a great time to plant most trees and shrubs, as they’ll have plenty of time to settle their roots before the winter sets in.

  • Plant late-season vegetables. Try sowing rutabaga, carrots and turnip for a second harvest in late fall. Cool-weather greens like kale and lettuces do great in fall and can be cycle sown late summer through fall. Fall vegetable starter packs can be planted by the end of August as well.

 

September & October

Fall is a wonderful time to enjoy crisper air, richer color palettes, and hearty late-season veggies. Use this time to prepare your garden for the winter, and you’ll enjoy an even better growing season next year!

  • Plant some peonies. Plant peony tubers in mid-fall to enjoy their beautiful blooms the following spring and summer. Peonies are amazingly durable and provide you with beautiful flowers for your garden and cutting.

  • Finish your tree planting. Planting trees in fall means less watering for you and less stress on the trees. At Gateway, we plant as long as the ground is not frozen. If we plant for you, we guarantee your tree for 2 full years! Come browse our fall selection.

  • Give your lawn some TLC. Complete some intensive fall lawn maintenance, like aeration, applying fertilizer, and overseeding for a fuller lawn in the spring with fewer weeds.

  • Clean up garden beds. Remove spent annuals, clean up any sick-looking plant material, and add compost to the soil to make spring bed prep a breeze. Remember to leave perennial foliage in place over the winter. 

 

November, December & January

November is bittersweet, as the gardening season is officially behind us. However, a few tasks remain that will help us stay engaged with the natural world through the winter!

  • Protect your evergreens. As tough as evergreens are, they still benefit from special care to protect them from winter burn. Healthier evergreens lead to better outcomes for the winter birds that depend on them for shelter. Spray Wilt Pruf on your broadleaf evergreens, like azaleas and boxwood, to help protect them from winter burn.

  • Create a sanctuary for birds. Winter birds are dealt a tough hand during the cold season, and your help goes a long way. Stock up on assorted feeders, bird seed, and suet. Use a birdbath de-icer to help provide a winter water source.

 

Can’t wait to get started? You can start purchasing your seeds, soil, organic fertilizers, and mulch starting in early March at Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin! You can call us anytime at 302-239-2727 as we are working off-site and check our messages regularly. We are always here to consult with you on your gardening goals for 2020. Happy planting!