“Did you ever meet a gardener, who, however fair his ground, was absolutely content and pleased? Is there not always a tree to be felled or a bed to be turned? Is there not ever some grand mistake to be remedied next summer?” This quote from Samuel Reynolds Hole in A Book About Roses in 1901 couldn’t be more enduring, now that we are well into a January thaw and surrounded by catalogs. What better time to consider some garden resolutions?
If you were to ask a group of gardeners what they would resolve to do (better) in 2018, each would surely have a unique thought and then would “borrow” at least one other resolution from the rest of the group.
Herewith some suggestions for your consideration.
If you’ve already resolved to drop a few pounds this year, gardening can help you. Pick a few chores where you can use fewer power tools and less hired help: mowing the grass, clipping hedges, edging, raking, etc. The extra physical exertion will translate into calories burned and less fossil fuel exhausted into the air you breathe. Start with a goal of an extra hour a week of non-power assisted work and see how many hours a week you can achieve. That can do a lot for your waistline, wallet, and lungs!
Weeding never ends and there isn’t a gardener who doesn’t tire of this chore, no matter how Zen-like it can be. A simple resolution to keep up with weeding on at least a weekly basis is what’s called for. If not, by September those weeds will have set and dispersed their seeds for the following year’s germination when the chore will get even bigger. Weeding regularly is a gardener’s version of “a stitch in time.”
Invariably, rainfall lessens as the summer progresses and you may have found yourself spending more time and energy than you would like applying water to favored plants. You could resolve to learn about xeriscaping (landscaping with plants which require little or no water), and then add 2 to 3 such plants to your garden as you begin to phase over to a less thirsty landscape. You could make this a longer-range resolution by committing to transforming your garden to a xeriscape landscape over the course of the next 3 years.
Make 2018 the year to grow your best veggies. That means ensuring your soil is in its best shape. Resolve to have it tested and add the proper amendments. Minimally that means adding compost to get those microbes working their magic and maybe something else to ensure the pH and micronutrients are right for what you are growing. Your soil test will reveal all.
Keeping a journal of what happens when in your garden is an indispensable tool for each successive season. By keeping notes on bloom times, temperatures, rainfall, etc. and then reviewing those notes during the quiet months of January and February, you can learn a great deal about what works where and what doesn’t, making better decisions when buying plants or tending to garden maintenance in successive seasons. Resolve to get yourself one of those blank bound notebooks with a space to hold a pen or pencil and tuck it in with your garden tools so when you go out to do something, it’s with you to jot down some of your observations. If you could get a book with some pockets that would work even better since those pockets could hold photos you take to capture your garden through the season.
Being a more tolerant gardener is one of my personal challenges. I vehemently oppose uninvited 4-legged creatures and most insects which invade my garden. I have a special distaste for Japanese beetles, deer, rabbits, and woodchucks. Caterpillars have a better chance of survival since in many cases they will become all-important and beautiful butterflies. Those caterpillars are also an important food source for our precious Eastern bluebirds. Spiders have always been welcome as they weave their extraordinary patterns in the most unlikely places and dispose of lesser creatures. But I still resent rabbits and woodchucks who believe my garden is their tasting table so will continue a policy of extradition for any that cross my path. As for the others, I will remain organic in controlling invaders but resolve to use more beneficial insects like lacewings and nematodes to help in the process.
Like all New Year’s resolutions, yours should be right for you. Most of all they should be attainable so you feel a sense of accomplishment as you succeed in achieving them. Best of all, doing anything better in the garden will always pay dividends.
So what are you waiting for?
Written by Lorraine Ballato