An early Spring checklist for zone 7b is essential for staying organized and on track. I’ll show you how we do it on our small homestead.
What Does Zone 7b Mean?
Zone 7b is a reference to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. The map can be found here. Basically, it’s a map that divides the United States into zones based of the average extreme low temperature. Each zone has a 10 degree difference. Living in Zone 7b means that our extreme low temperatures are an average of 5-10 degrees F. Based on this information, gardeners and growers can determine which plants will thrive in their particular location. Your zone will also allow you to estimate the average first and last frost dates, which are extremely important in the timeline of growing.
Why Would You Need A Checklist?
Springtime can be a very busy season. Our average last frost date is in the first week of April. I found that out by using the Farmer’s Almanac website here. For the garden, there are specific times as when to start seeds based on the last frost date. You really need to keep track of this timeline for all of your plantings. For example, plants that prefer cooler weather won’t end up being baked by the hot sun because you sowed the seeds too late in the season. I highly recommend keeping a gardening journal.
Another reason to keep a checklist is due to new farm babies arriving. Animals are bred so that birth is occurring during the warming up of longer days. Winter days are too harsh on new life and could easily kill them.
During Winter, bees are clustered in their hives, and when those 40-50+ degree days start, they start to break that cluster. They’ll need food and start foraging and you need to be ready to provide and monitor that. A checklist will help you keep this delicate ecosystem in order by staying ahead of the game.
Overall, you need to be prepared to jump feet first into nurturing new life after a quieter season of rest. Creating a checklist with a timeline will allow you to stay organized and on task. We all know that things come up on the homestead, so knowing what you’re doing and where you left off will help you stay on track.
Early Spring Checklist For Zone 7b – Garden
Here is a quick glimpse of my early Spring garden checklist for zone 7b:
- Collect & send out soil samples to determine amendments needed.
- Determine what crops you’ll be growing & how much.
- Repair fences and gates around the garden.
- Map out where you’ll be planting your crops.
- Uncover over-wintered crops.
- Ammend garden soil and till thoroughly.
- Clean and organize greenhouse to allow room for seedlings.
- Inspect and clean rain barrels.
- Start planting seeds indoors & harden off according to last frost date.
- Prune crops that require it (garlic & strawberries to name a few).
Needless to say, the garden keeps us busy! Once the end of Winter itch starts, we typically pull out pots, tools, and other machines to clean and inspect for when the garden work begins. We will also take inventory of supplies like soil and other amendments to see if anything needs restocking.
I will most importantly journal about my garden and reference last year. I will make a graphing table of “# of weeks before last frost” based on when our last frost date is. After purchasing my seeds, I will sit down and determine what week I will be planting them according to their variety. I will gather my peat pots, trays, and soil whenever the schedule tells me to. There’s a popular post here that I did on how to easily start seeds indoors.
Once we get closer to that last frost date, I will start uncovering some of my over-wintered plants (strawberries) and pruning others (garlic scapes are delicious). Once the seedlings have hardened off and are ready to plant, we make sure the garden soil is amended and tilled. It’s then time to put the plant babies into the ground!
Early Spring Checklist For Zone 7b – Chickens
This is my current early Spring zone 7b checklist for the chickens:
- If you used the deep bed method over the Winter, it’s time to clean it out and add it to your compost.
- Order chicks from hatchery or local feed store.
- Do a thorough predator check on coop and all structures and reinforce if needed.
- Examine the health of each member of your flock (combs, waddles, and feet are especially important).
- Check, repair, and reorder equipment and supplies for chicks’ arrival.
- Let those ladies free range for Spring time bugs!
- Provide extra treats and herbs to encourage good egg laying.
- After daylight savings time, readjust the time on your automatic coop door (if you have one).
We don’t live in an area that receives much snow, but we still get an occasional storm. We did, however, get a few ice storms this year that were pretty brutal. During the cold winter months, a chicken’s comb, waddle, and feet can dry out and possibly get frostbite. Be sure to take extra care and check on these things during Winter and as the weather warms. Providing a little petroleum jelly on those combs and waddles can help keep them from drying out, It’s always beneficial to do routine health inspections on your flock. This will help you stay ahead of the game if an issue is spotted.
After we order our chicks, I always do an inventory count of brooder, supplies, feed, and other equipment like heating elements and feeders. When chicks arrive, you need to be ready to get them in that brooder and get them warm ASAP. Here is a post about caring for chicks through their first month. It gives more detail on what you’ll need and how to care for them appropriately.
Finally, if you don’t already, let your established flock free range for those delicious grubs and worms that are in plenty this time of year. Happy chickens make delicious eggs! I also toss them some treats like dried mealworms or black soldier fly larvae. I include dried herbs in their nesting boxes to give them a fresh scent to relax while laying. This is where I purchase those treats and herbs, and here is a post about the benefits of using herbs with chickens.
Early Spring Checklist For Zone 7b – Bees
A more established beekeeper than myself may have a longer list than this. We are in the middle of bee school through our county’s co-op, and establishing new hives on the property. But, here is my checklist as a new beekeeper:
- Inspect hives to see if bees over-wintered. If so, check food supply and feed syrup and pollen as needed.
- Inspect, repair, and reorder equipment if necessary.
- Set up empty hives for new packages/nucs (repair and paint if desired).
- Order packages or nucs.
- Install packages or nucs, feed syrup and pollen (if trees haven’t bloomed), and check back in a few days to see if the queen has been released.
Like I said, we are very new at beekeeping. All advice is welcomed by the way! I’m finishing up bee school, and my mentor has been helping me get our hives set up and packages ordered.
We are planning on painting our hives this weekend to spruce them up (bees arrive in 2 weeks). My jacket, veil, gloves, smoker, and hive tool have been ordered as well.
We ordered packages for our 2 hives. This means there is an unrelated Queen bee included, and she will be in a separate cage with a few drones attending her. Once we install the package of bees in our hives, we will set the Queen cage in the center frame to allow her and the drones to eat their way out. There is literally a piece of hard candy stuck in one end of the cage, and this allows the Queen to slowly make her way out while the remainder of the colony gets used to her pheromones and accepts her. I will then check back in a few days to ensure that she made her way out and is busy laying eggs.
Also, our maple trees were late blooming this year, so some hives may need extra pollen sources to kick start the colony production. Some beekeepers choose to do this, and some don’t. It’s all personal choice.
How Much Time Does It Take To Complete This Checklist?
The important thing with these checklists, is to prioritize the tasks. There are so many things that can come up that will delay your work. For example, our tractor broke down a few weeks ago. We had to push pause on these projects to repair it. Without a tractor, we couldn’t do some of the tasks on these lists.
The weather also plays a huge roll in this timeline. Wet, cold, and windy weather is not suitable for planting delicate seedlings or for inspecting bee hives. You need to keep an eye on the weather pattern and be ready to go when Mother Nature says so.
Spring time can be an exhausting season full of work and wild weather. In our USDA Zone 7b, summer can be scorching hot. Nothing other than simple maintenance gets done during those brutally hot months. That’s why we try and get it all done in Spring.
Tell Me More!
Drop a comment below and tell me more:
- If you live in Zone 7b, what is on your checklist for early Spring? What did I miss, or what is something different that you do?
- If you have different farm animals, I’d love to learn more about what you do to prepare them for the season change. Goats, pigs, cows, horses, other poultry or waterfowl?
- If you live in a different USDA zone, I’d love to know your time frame for early Spring and what you’re doing.
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Thanks for stopping by my friends! I love learning more about each other. I’ll see you next time, and HAPPY SPRING!