How to Garden When You’re in Transition

The last couple of years have been learning ones for me; mainly learning how to do a lot of things on my own.

This year with my upcoming move I have to make sure I don’t plant anything that won’t be ready by the time I pack up the last of my things. For a gardener, that’s not the easiest feat to accomplish.

As much as I like to grow my vegetables, herbs, and flowers in my raised beds, I’m going to have to resort to container gardening this year. And even with the containers, I’m going to have to make sure I don’t plant too many. I honestly don’t think my friends and family are going to appreciate having to move a lot of containers.

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Keep it small.

As much as gardeners love to plant, it’s important to remember the harvest may not be ready until after you’re in your new location. I know that’s going to be the case for me, because I’ll be moving in July. July is usually when everything really gets growing.

If you feel you must plant something, stick to radishes, lettuce, spinach, and cherry tomatoes. They can be harvested early (except the tomatoes) and do well in containers.

Spend time cleaning up your existing yard.

As you know, I had trees taken down last fall. As I wait for moving day I am concentrating on cleaning up the wood chips, branches, and logs that were left (upon my request). I don’t want to leave the yard a mess for my brother-in-law. Not only will it make it easier for him, I’ll get my steps and exercise in when the weather is good.

Plan out your new yard.

Whether you’re moving onto a farm, an acreage, or a municipality, figuring out what to do with your new space can satisfy the need to do something garden-related.

Last week I was able to visit my new yard and I took a lot of pictures, just so I can have a visual and figure out where to put my trees, raised beds, raspberries, and asparagus. As I wait for moving day I’ll be utilizing some graph paper or a page or three in my planner, just so I can get to work as soon as I’m unpacked.

As I was walking around my new yard, I saw this. She must’ve been buried in a snow drift because I didn’t see her when I was there the 3 previous times.

When I built my deck two years ago I had some leftover lumber, which will also be moved and utilized in my new space. I think I have enough to add on to the existing deck, plus build a set of steps from the garage to the lower part of the yard. (There are currently some railroad ties there, and I do not like the look or the smell of them. They will be one of the first things to go.)

Give your houseplants the attention they deserve.

Not every gardener has houseplants, but for those of you that do, transition time is the perfect time to repot, fertilize, prune, divide, and conquer.

I did a bunch of repotting a few weeks ago, and my plants are loving their new root space. It’s amazing how much difference an extra inch or two of soil space makes.

I also acquired two new plants last week. My daughter wanted to get me something for Mother’s Day and my birthday, so we went to the greenhouse. She bought me two African Violets (yes, I’m going to try growing them again); one with pink flowers and the other with blue flowers. They weren’t expensive (I wouldn’t let her spend a lot of money on me), but I hope I don’t kill them. I have to get it right with them sooner or later, right?

Organize and take inventory of your seeds.

I don’t know about you, but my seeds are in a couple of small plastic totes. One holds flower seeds and the other is filled with vegetable seeds. At this point they are not organized; just put in the totes so they don’t end up all over.

I’m currently working on a printable Garden Planner/Journal, and one of the sections is going to have inventory sheets. I’m expanding on one I created in the past, because I see a need for more than just a few pages. (My goal is to have it finished and ready for sale by month-end.)

Dig up any perennials/trees/shrubs you will be moving to your new space.

In my last post I talked about my apple trees, and the research I did on moving them. It has been a cold spring so I was worried about the roots freezing if I dug them up too soon. We finally had a decent rain and some warmer temperatures, and my trees are now leafing out…and still in the ground.

My plan is to dig them up and put them in 5 gallon buckets this weekend, with hopes they survive. I’ll also be digging up my peony, some raspberry bushes, a Virginia Creeper, and some asparagus. Those alone should give me enough to take care of and worry about until I get them in the ground at my new place.


There is always something for a gardener to do, even if planting, weeding, and harvesting has to be delayed for a season. Make the best of your gardening time, no matter what else is happening in your life. Gardening truly is good for the body, mind, and soul. And when your transition is done, you can enjoy the features of your new space.

p.s. I think I need a name for my tree stump (pictured above). What are your thoughts on a name for her?

Onions & Apple Trees

We are finally getting some rain!

I was beginning to lose hope we would get any moisture at all. Last night as I sat out by my fire I watched the clouds filled with rain go around me. It seemed to be raining everywhere but here. It didn’t even smell like rain, which was disheartening in itself.

This morning started out warm and sunny, so I thought for sure the forecast was out to lunch. I took the big dog for a walk across the field because we both needed to get out for a little while. It was warm and sunny while we were out, but started to cloud over shortly after we got back. I still didn’t have any faith we were going to get rain.

I was honestly surprised when the heavier clouds rolled in and the rain began. Our fields are so dry. This will help the fields, pastures, and the gardens. It’ll delay some seeding for a few days, but it will be worth it in the end.

Spring Cleanup

Yesterday afternoon I cleaned out one of the raised beds I didn’t get to before the snow fell, and was surprised to find onion bulbs as firm as they had been during the summer. I planted about 12 little multiplier bulbs last spring, and used the green onion all summer. I even pulled a few and used them.

As I was cleaning the bed, I started uprooting the bulbs…and to my surprise I ended up with 30 of them. As excited as I was, my thought then was “What am I supposed to do with them?”. I’ll be moving in a couple months, so I couldn’t very well just leave them there to grow; especially since I’m disassembling the raised bed so I can take it with me.

Multiplier Onions

The next thing I cleaned out was the self-watering planter I made last summer. It had been filled with herbs, and it worked wonderfully for them. All that’s left in it is the clump of chives, which I decided not to uproot. I decided the onion bulbs could go in with the chives, at least until I figure out where else to put them.

I raked up piles of woodchips and grass, with the hopes of having a bit of a bonfire in the evening. The wind picked up and that was not to be; at least not where my main fire pit is. (I did have a small one in my little screened firebox on the other side of the house though.) Now those said piles are getting a good soaking in the rain, so they won’t burn very well. They may just become mulch in my new yard instead.

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Relocating Trees

I’ve had quite a bit of experience over the years with houseplants, herbs, vegetables, and even soft fruits. My challenge this year, however, is going to be relocating my apple trees. I have to admit, I’m a little worried.

My kids bought them for me two years ago for my birthday, and I planted them: one on the north side of my house, and one on the south. At that point in time I hadn’t even considered moving; I was too distraught with Ross’s passing.

Now here I am, two years later; and trying to figure out the best way to move them so I don’t lose them. Like I said, my experience with moving trees is minimal. I do suppose this will be a learning experience for me.

From what I can tell from my research, the best time to dig them up is before they bud out. I was going to do that this afternoon, but the rain came before I could start. And to be honest, I really have no desire to dig up trees in the pouring rain.

Since my move won’t be until early July, my best option will be to put them in a container. Since the trunks are just a little bigger than an inch, the root ball will have to be no smaller than 18″. My research also tells me if they are in a container, they can be transplanted at any time. (Bare root trees would have to be done when the roots are dormant.)

Something else I learned is the trees should be marked so they face the same direction when planted in their new spot. In all honesty, it’s not something I would have even considered if I had just been “winging it”. It pays to do your research; whether you’re writing an essay or moving trees.

Giving the trees a good soaking before digging them up is essential, so I think Mother Nature has to be thanked for that. Keeping the container watered to avoid stress to the roots is also beneficial. Giving them plenty of room to spread out even while in the container will help lessen the shock when they’re put in the ground again. At least that’s my thought; and hope.

Once they’re placed in the new spot, they’ll have to be staked and watered regularly. Right now both trees are around the 8′ tall mark (give or take) so should be relatively easy to transport in an enclosed trailer. I really don’t want to risk them getting damaged by the wind in the back of the truck, especially since over half of the trip will be at highway speed.

All I can hope for is my trees survive the move. Have you moved trees before?

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When is it okay to start bedding plants?

Have you noticed we have more daylight now than even a couple weeks ago?

I do have to say, it’s nice to be able to walk at 5 p.m. and have it still be light out. And where I live, I don’t walk after dark if I can help it. I never know where the moose, deer, and other wildlife is hiding.

With the longer daylight hours comes the desire to get the outdoor plants started, but don’t get too excited just yet. The dates ultimately depend on your temperate zone, which I’ll discuss shortly. I have made the mistake more than once, and my seedlings didn’t do well.

Disclaimer: Links within this post are either to my own products, or products I endorse. I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase through an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you. My blog is supported through commissions and sales of my products. Plus, if you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.  Thank you for your continued support.

What’s a temperate zone?

In a nutshell, the temperate zone is what the minimum temperatures can get to in any given area. Here in Canada we range from an area with the coldest temperature at -1.1 degree Celsius (9b) to -56.7 (0b). Now that is cold!

My area ranges from 3a to 2a, depending on the year. Oveall the average is 2b, which is from -40C to -42.8C. That’s just temperature alone; the windchill is not factored into these numbers.

When living in zones like this, it definitely cuts down on what a person can grow through the summer. Perennials have to tolerate frigid temperatures and annuals have to grow fairly quickly due to a relatively short growing season. It would be wonderful if we could all have heated greenhouses so we could enjoy more of a variety, including citrus trees.

When we were in Vancouver a few years ago I was surprised to see banana trees planted outside. I was told they could survive brief periods of below zero temperatures, but I personally wouldn’t be that brave. But then again, I don’t live there so can’t say for sure.

Frost dates.

When you’re planning your garden you need to know the average first and last frost dates. It does range in comparison to what your temperate zone is, but in my part of Alberta we generally don’t plant anything outside until after May Long Weekend (Victoria Day). And depending on the year, we’re sometimes covering our tomatoes and other plants by the end of August.

When you’re deciding on your seed planting dates, there’s a simple formula to follow. On a normal year it should work out okay, but we all know Mother Nature has the final say.

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When can I plant?

The rule of thumb is to start plants 6 to 8 weeks before you plan to put them outside. Since May Long is the earliest we can safely put plants out, I generally do not expect to start anything until the beginning of April. That gives me a little more than 6 weeks.

As some seeds take longer to germinate, it’s good practice to pay attention to the information on your seed packets. Also pay attention to the days to maturity, as each plant type is different. Some you won’t have to start inside, such as peas, beans, beets, carrots, as they don’t transplant well and grow quickly. Well, except for carrots; but they are below the surface so a light frost won’t hurt them anyway.

Other plants such as flowers, tomatoes, peppers, many herbs, broccoli, cauliflower, for example, do better when started indoors. They take longer to reach maturity, so depending on your zone, will benefit from being started indoors.

What about light?

All plants need light once they start to grow and giving your plants full sun is best. If you don’t have a south-facing window that gets direct sunlight, the next best thing is a grow light. They need at least the equivalent of 6 hours of full sun a day. I have to admit, my plants usually end up being leggy because they don’t get the proper light as I have limited south-facing window space.

This year I am going to put my seedlings under grow lights. In fact, I cleaned off the top shelf in a bookshelf for some plants. I invested in some small grow light bars and have them in place. So far my shorter house plants are under them, but as the daylight hours are longer I’ll be moving them closer to the window. (My office will soon be entirely over-run with plants.)

In addition to growing time and proper light you’ll need to make sure you monitor watering as well. A spray bottle is ideal for seeds and seedlings, or watering from the bottom to prevent them from being damaged or washed away. A mini greenhouse is ideal for starting most seedlings, but take care to allow for ventilation and be sure it doesn’t get too hot inside.

In conclusion.

Planning your garden is exciting, whether it’s your first or 50th. Starting your own seedlings can bring a little bit of summer into your home early, and you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labour sooner as well.

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