A Gardenerís New Yearís Resolutions

 Kay Hinkle
Adams County Master Gardener

First, let me be clear Ė I donít make New Year resolutions! Quite a few years ago I realized going through that annual exercise was a futile attempt to change overnight Ė something that isnít all that realistic for me. I vowed to lose 10 pounds more often than I care to remember; it was no easier in January than in the other 11 months of the year!

With that confession out of the way, let me say that I am all for realizing measured improvement in the coming year over the previous one. If January is a good time to wipe the old slate clean, with progress to begin again in earnest in the New Year, why not? Whatever the reason and whatever the timing, incremental improvement is always good, right? So, Iíve come up with a number of items below that might just be added to the gardenerís list of resolutions for anyone, anytime, anywhere:

  • With the leaves off the trees and the gardens in a bare January state, take a good look at your gardens to assess placement. Are there open spaces that need filled in? Conversely, are there cluttered plantings that might be more attractive if separated in the spring? Make notes for each garden in winter months that can be clearly followed when the time is right to divide, move, re-plant or share with a neighbor or a friend.
  • Really clean outdoor pots for the coming year. Actually disinfect as the gardening manuals direct. Start fresh this growing season with squeaky clean pots and fresh soil. You might be surprised at the difference it makes in your container gardens this year.
  • Examine outdoor gardening tools like rakes, hoes, and shovels. Clean shovel and spade blades. Organize the tools for easy access in the coming months. Simple wall racks available at local garden centers and big box stores can be inexpensive or elaborate. The goal is to know just where to find the ground shovel when it is time to plant that new tree or shrub in the spring, and finding it clean and good repair as well.
  • Inspect and organize your tool caddy or bucket; if you donít have one, make one this winter, by gathering those implements most often needed to plant, weed, or prune into one central repository to be carried along as you plant or weed. It is amazing how much time one saves when what is needed in the process is right at your fingertips!
  • Use the winter months to educate yourself on a topic that will improve your gardening expertise in the coming years. Do you know what you need to know about invasive plants? There are new ones to avoid added to the noxious list on a regular basis.
  • This one is fun and serves to brighten your home this winter Ė scour the after- Christmas sales in gardening departments to purchase plants and flowers for inside as you wait for the planting season to begin outside. A leftover Christmas Cactus can bring enjoyment for years to come. Amaryllis bulbs that sold for $15 plus before Christmas might be reduced to a third of the original price after the holidays. Paper whites and other spring bulbs can be found at similar savings, potted and ready to force as directed. Once enjoyed indoors, store these bulbs for planting outdoors later and enjoy them again.
  • Consider ways to cut gardening costs in the coming year. Start plants from seeds, for example. Divide perennials and share with friends and neighbors. Formalize a neighborhood date for a day of sharing plants this spring or fall.
  • Treat yourself to a purchase of a special purchase with a portion of the savings in #4 above. What is the plant or shrub or tree that you have been longing to add to your landscape? Make it a focal point in the garden to enjoy every day of the growing season.
  • Make a list of tasks to be completed each month of the year that keeps you on track to a more beautiful result as the year unfolds. (Actually, complete the tasks.....)
  • Finally, plot a way to lose 10 pounds that is different than the plan that didnít work last year. What am I saying? Scratch that!

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