It’s the time for looking back and looking forward, the threshold of a new year. Gardening is an exercise in optimism, especially in the winter when everything is still possible. We check things off in catalogs and draw little circles on graph paper or the back of an envelope, asking questions like “What worked this year that we can repeat? What failed? How big will that get? Should we try that one in a different spot?”
We know the weeds, pests, and dry spells will arrive sooner or later but now we focus on the potential blooms and the bounty. In that spirit, why not make a list of garden resolutions for 2012?
Here is mine:
1. Grow more food.
I won’t resolve to grow ALL of my vegetables this year, not with my busy schedule, but I can shoot for half, at least from June to September. I have been inspired by garden writer Joan Gussow who grows all of her veggies in her suburban plot next to the Hudson River. She makes eating only her own produce a beautiful challenge.
2. Stick to the budget and the plan.
When I am looking starry eyed at pictures of fresh Black from Tula tomatoes and mounds of blue lupine, I will keep in mind the size of my garden and my wallet, and most importantly my available time to work it.
3. Try something new.
I’m always pulled between growing more of something I know will do well (thus meeting goal #1), and having more variety. The balance tips both ways depending largely on what seed packets I have on hand when I get a free spring afternoon.
4. Start more from seed and take better care of the seedlings.
Might be time to buy a warming pad. Last year I finally started using good quality potting soil and it made a huge difference. McEnroe’s is available at our neighbor Fifth Season. And of course use Sow True Seeds, all open pollinated!
5. Weed earlier and more often.
I’ve got to get ahead of them this year, before it gets so out of hand I give up. Skimming them off with a sharp hoe when the weeds first popped up gave good results in 2011. I just have to keep it up.
6. Get the family more involved.
7. Plant with preservation in mind.
I want to plant varieties like Kennebec potatoes and Onions that do well in storage. I also want to make more pickles (Kimchi!) and jams. We have a great book that will help with this Homesteading: How to Store Your Garden Produce.
8. Share more with neighbors.
Having plastic bags already in the garden when harvesting makes this easier.
9. Feed the soil.
Dame Edna Barkslip, AKA Bill Whipple, says give your garden more OM (organic matter), because “What you give is what you get” (happy soil micro-organisms and nutritious produce).