Gardening resolutions for 2012
I am, at heart, an optimist. I believe that the rodents will leave my tulip bulbs alone, so last fall I planted plenty. I believe that the Zone 5 perennials I planted last summer in my zone 4 garden will survive the winter. I believe that late blight will not return next summer to ravage my tomatoes the way it did in 2010. But I also try to learn from my mistakes — and from the mistakes of others. Each winter about this time I like to reflect on the past year’s gardening efforts and make resolutions about what to do — or not do — this coming summer. This year I also asked some readers what resolutions they are making, and I’m going to share a few of their thoughts.
I’ve had to edit and condense a few, so forgive me if I’ve edited yours — or left it out completely.
As the owner of a corgi, I liked this resolution, from Maria van Beuren: “I will plant the garden without assistance, however enthusiastic, from small dogs.” She provided this back story, which made me laugh. “I crawled down the row, carefully doling out tiny carrot seeds and tenderly covering them. Reached end of row and looked back to see that two puppies had concluded that I needed their expertise in digging and had come along behind me, efficiently trenching. Needless to say, most of the carrot plants I grew last year were oddly distributed in the garden.”
Nelson and Brenda Barter solved the carrot spacing problem (the seeds are small and hard to space properly), saying, “We’ve learned that we really like premeasured seed strips for some applications. We always had trouble growing carrots and beets from seed packets, we’d thin them but they’d still bunch up and grow poorly or leave bare patches. We’ve had really good luck with both carrots and beets since we started using the strips; for us, they’re worth the small additional cost.” So try those, next year, Maria.
A number of readers said they were going to downsize next year. Tom Brennan had an interesting way of doing that — stay away from the catalogs. “I’m going to make my garden smaller. At 79 it takes a lot longer to get things like weeding and cultivating done. BUT the drawback is I see something in a seed catalog and I’d like to try that, or something is said to be the very best tasting — and what’s one more row? So I think I won’t look at catalogs this year.”
Readers Donna and Bill Heroux wrote, saying, “Instead of planting just one variety of radish, we're going to plant an assortment — lots of colors, lots of flavors.” Now that is a resolution that I suspect will be kept — unlike some others which were much more ambitious.
Speaking of ambitious, Carol Mayer wrote, “Ditch the perennials and plant the trees and shrubs” is my motto for 2012. I plan to “garden smarter, not harder” as so many of us are saying now. I’ll keep the hostas and other easy care perennials but those that must be dug, divided and replanted every two to three years must go.”
Now that is a “great” resolution, but it sounds like a lot of work. More than will be done in 2012. And if Carol is like me, it’s very hard to shoot a plant — or throw it on the compost pile.
Might I suggest a modified resolution, Carol? How about this: Dig up 10 or 20 perennials and have a “yard” sale? Then use the money to buy those nice shrubs you want. A big perennial can often be divided into six smaller plants that still will sell like hotcakes at $2 to $3 each. Invite everyone from your garden club or even your entire e-mail address book.
Twenty perennials can earn you a couple hundred dollars. One last suggestion: pot them up nicely in the spring, and then sell them in mid-June when the plants have recovered from the move and look good. And remember that nothing sells better than a plant with blooming flowers!
Meanwhile Marta Smith had a different approach. “My resolution is to not get carried away and end up planting too many plants for the space I have. My plants were too crowded and consequently did not produce as well as they should have. I will plant less and hopefully reap more, or maybe I will just turn the whole yard into garden space! Who needs a lawn anyway?”
Judy Hallam wrote, saying, “From now on I will only use slow release fertilizer in my garden boxes and containers for healthier, thicker plants. She added, “PS: This was your suggestion, Henry!”
Thanks, Judy, Glad somebody pays attention to what I write.
And on a more philosophical note, I’d like to end with this, from my friend David Zoffoli, who wrote, “I resolve to not worry about weeding, to go outside when it rains and enjoy life with the plants; to continue to order way too many annual seeds that I don’t plant; to plant more trees for birds, and to eat a pint of blueberries straight from the bush.” In other words, relax and enjoy the garden.
As for me? I resolve to try moderation in everything I do — even though it’s not my inclination! Thanks to all of you who wrote, and my best to all gardeners for 2012.
Henry Homeyer is available to speak at your gardening club or library. His Web site is www.Gardening-Guy.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.