The holidays are officially over.
The presents are all put away and we have finished cleaning up after the New Year’s celebrations.
As we prepare to move forward into 2019 many of us have made some promises to ourselves — those infamous New Year’s resolutions most of us make but few of us actually keep.
Here are a few of mine as they relate to gardening:
I resolve to:
» Teach a kid to garden. This will probably be at least as rewarding for me as it is for the kid. Children can really appreciate something they are successful with. Teaching a young person to garden will reward them in many different ways. First, when they sow a seed and it turns into a plant they learn how plants grow and, by extension, how life in general works. By starting and nurturing plants, children learn that they can also help other people. By successfully growing plants that produce flowers or their favorite vegetables they learn how, with just the right amount of effort, they can succeed in other areas of their lives. It also is fun to be outdoors, playing in the dirt with children. Fresh air, discussions about how plants grow and connecting with our ancestors primary means of survival greatly enhances the experience.
» Have my soil tested. Soil is the most basic element in any garden and it is the most important element toward success. We tend to focus on our plants for most of our efforts but it is the soils that really determine the brilliance of our flowers and the sweetness of our vegetables. Think about it, when is the one time we can really show attention to the roots of our plants? Roots live under the soil, out of sight and often out of mind. A lot of things can happen to plants above the ground but we can correct most of those problems. But, if the plants do not have a healthy root system there is no way we can have healthy plants. The key to healthy roots is a healthy soil. We need to make certain the required nutrients are available in the soil and the plants’ preferred acidity is at the correct level. If we get the soil chemistry right and we have ample organic matter (such as compost) we will have a nutritious soil, teeming with little micro-organisms that will support our plants’ life processes and help them to become what we want them to be. Have your lawn and garden soils tested every three years to maintain healthy conditions for those all-important plan roots.
» Read labels. Many things we gardeners use come with some sort of informative label attached. Even the plants we buy have them. Many of us tend to ignore those labels. To get the best results or performance from the products and plants, we should all take a few minutes to read that information. In most cases there will be nothing new, but I have often found some small but important tidbit that will help my garden thrive. In particular, we should always read pesticide labels to make sure we use them safely and wisely. And labeled information will change as the manufacturer alters the product to make it work better or more safely.
» Fix the landscape. With all the rain, wind and snow we have had in 2018 there are many things that need my attention. Some of my azaleas were flattened during that heavy snow last month. Small trees were partially uprooted or suffered cracked or broken branches in the wind storms. Other plants are suffering because of too much water in the soil around their roots — remember that we had 5 1/5 feet of rain in 2018. That is way too much for many plants such as holly and boxwood.
» Plant stuff. It was so wet, and it seemed like it rained every weekend in the fall. The leaves took forever to come off the trees so I was still raking well into December. So I did not have time to plant some of the shrubs I picked up late in the season for bargain prices, like those two flowering shrubs I got in an end-of-the-season sale for $5 each instead of $30. There also are some areas that washed out in those heavy rain events we suffered and I have the grass seed to use to stabilize those spots but just have not had the right conditions to sow it. I will need to wait for the right conditions then put those shrubs in the ground and sow that grass seed before it gets too hot and before I get too tied up on other late winter chores.
It seems that my work is cut out for me in 2019. It’s a good thing I enjoy gardening. I hope your new year will be a great one. Enjoy your garden.
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