It’s a new year—and a brand-new growing season. It may not be as exciting as the first tomato ripening or the first flower opening, but it’s a time of promise, of optimism, and of a tangible sense of opportunity. Here are my 8 gardening resolutions. I hope they inspire your plans!
My garden has disappeared under a thin coverlet of white, which thankfully hides all the chores left undone. This temporary lull in activity is a welcome holiday from garden work and gives an excuse for dreaming. For now, we have time to take stock of the past with an eye toward creating an even brighter future.
Taking more pictures and keep a garden journal to record your garden’s progress over the growing season? Even the view out the kitchen window changes greatly as the year marches on. Snap a picture of your garden from the same vantage point on the first day of each month and at the end of the year you’ll have a great photo essay of the rise and fall of a year in your garden. I use a Garden Journal on my smartphone, so it’s easy to take photos in the garden as well as track progress.
Trying your hand at building a trellis, arbor, or pergola? Even if you are not handy with tools, now is the time to try a new craft. The rustic look is in, so your project doesn’t have to be perfect to do the job and it will give you an excuse to buy that new climbing rose or another clematis.
Building a compost bin? Composting is the gardener’s way of recycling old plant material into rich, soil-nourishing compost. Plants love it! Wooden pallets are often free to source and are the perfect size for making a large compost bin. See how to build a compost bin with these steps.
Use a year-round garden planner? I keep track of my garden plans, planting dates, and harvest dates right on my computer with an online Garden Planner. Not only does it generate a full gardening calendar for me, but I can draw out my vegetable beds and move them around; it even calculates how many plants will fit in the space, suggests the best plant companions, and helps me find the best layout for the space. It’s useful and enjoyable to track everything you do in the garden and has made me a better gardener.
Getting the shed or garage organized? Hang larger hand tools on hooks and nails so they’re easy to grab. Put pruners and trowels in a clay pot.
Growing and cooking a new vegetable? If you like carrots, try parsnips which cook up nutty and spicy. How about planting leeks, a milder relative of onions? One of the most under-appreciated vegetables is rutabaga, which roasts up as sweet and rich as butternut squash with a touch of pepper. See my 10 Tips for Beginner Gardeners
Trying more organics? Switch to organic fertilizers for your lawn. Learn about natural pest control for healthier plants in your garden.
Trying a new growing method? How about planning a square-foot-garden or a raised bed garden? Perhaps this year, try growing tomatoes in pots?
Gardening teaches us important lessons: a reverence for life, responsibility, nurturing, achievement, self-esteem, and hard work. These are values worth sharing. The act of gardening has a positive effect on young and old alike and promotes a sense of community. We also feel better about ourselves when we can help someone less fortunate.
Gardening can become more than a pleasant hobby if you share the experience with others. Many communities have ongoing beautification projects that welcome new volunteers and new ideas. Ask around about community gardens!
If you are overburdened with produce each summer, your local food pantry or soup kitchen can make good use of your excess.
An elderly neighbor would love an hour or two of yard help each week.
Even the delivery of an occasional bouquet of flowers from your garden can help brighten someone’s day.
The list is endless.
Winter is nature’s dormant time; it gives us a chance to slow down and renew our bonds with the natural world—take a walk, watch the birds, gaze at the stars on a clear, cold evening.
Look to the future. No matter how long you have been gardening, there is always more to learn and something new to try. What are your plans for this growing season? Share your hopes and aspirations below.