Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Resolutions for the Gardener

Year after year, we make the same resolutions; lose weight, get organized and get more exercise. This year, I'm suggesting a bit of a twist by offering ideas for gardening resolutions. Here it goes!
  1. Test the soil. Bring in a baggie to our garden shop and we will test it free for pH. Refresh your soil with organic matter by adding compost from your own garden or by the addition of Leafgro.
  2. Purchase seeds early for the best selection, but be careful not to plant them too early. Most seeds take only 8 weeks or so to grow to transplant size. Bigger is not necessarily better. Check individual seed packets for information.
  3. Sort and clean tools now. Donate tools no longer in use. Upgrade to ergonomic tools, like those from Radius, if it will make gardening more comfortable.
  4. Speaking of which, start 'Spring Training' to get into shape for stooping, weeding, digging and the like. 
  5. Take some photos now of your garden areas to see the 'bones' of the garden. Look for ways to add vignettes, seating areas and, naturally, more plants.
  6. Share plants and ideas with gardening friends. A group of us here at Valley View Farms visit each others gardens for inspiration and a chance to see what a great job each has accomplished. As a bonus, there are always plants to divide and give away.
  7. Take the time now to read and attend classes about gardening. We offer seminars here in February, March and April. Go to the  Grow It Eat It website for a schedule of vegetable classes as well. Our gardening resources have increased in the last few years with the addition of classroom space at Cylburn Arboretum in Baltimore and The Baltimore County Agriculture Center in Hunt Valley. 
  8. Plant more pansies! Planted in spring or fall, they add smiles to every one's faces. If the ground is too wet, plant up some pots to set around the garden and front entryway to your home. 
  9. Add a bench, a piece of statuary, a bottle tree, a birdbath or some gazing globes. These little additions to the garden add a dramatic flair and keep the eye searching for fun.
  10. Keep a journal. Last year's weather was unique, but I will soon forget why. (Drought in early summer, record rainfall in late summer). Journaling on a smart phone, through photographs, or the old-fashioned way, a pencil and notebook, will help with future challenges in you garden. 
I might have a shot at keeping some of these this year. Happy New Year!