New year’s resolutions often center on making better health choices – exercising more, eating fewer sweets, getting more sleep. But what about your garden’s health? Or your growth as a gardener? January is the perfect time to reflect on growing seasons past, and how to make this year the best gardening year ever. Here are some of the activities that Garden Maker team members have resolved to do in 2018.
Garden Health Resolutions:
Complete a soil test. Only a soil test can tell you for sure how to best improve your soil. If you can get a shovel into your frozen soil, January is a great time to send away soil samples for testing. That way, you’ll get results before the spring thaw, so you know exactly what actions to take to adjust the pH or improve the structure of your soil, and what nutrients your fertilizer mix needs to fill gaps in your garden.
Start (or improve on) a compost pile. We just can’t say enough good things about compost and the benefits it brings to your garden. It provides humus to improve oil structure in both sandy and clay soils, moving gardens closer to loamy perfection. Compost feeds and promotes diverse microbial populations that your garden soil so desperately needs. And not to mention, it’s basically free fertilizer!
Manage water better. Make this the year you invest in irrigation equipment that prevents water loss, or reclaims rainwater for garden watering. Soil structure matters, too; added humus helps your soil retain water for plants to access.
Mulch more. Mulch early, mulch often and mulch with natural materials to prevent water loss, protect and feed soil microbes and prevent nutrient-gobbling weeds from germinating.
Gardener Growth Resolutions
Organize the shed. Now is a great time to address the tools that you were too busy or tired to clean and organize at the end of the last gardening season. Plan for ongoing organization, too, with a new system for storing fertilizers, equipment and leftover seeds.
Keep better records. It’s hard to remember to keep notes about this year’s garden to inform next year’s. Set up a computer spreadsheet now to track what you plant and harvest in your greenhouse or vegetable garden. Or buy an old-school planning calendar to jot down notes about what you do and observe throughout the gardening season.
Plant or learn something new. Buy seeds for something you’ve never grown before, and use the winter months to research online or at the library how to grow it. Find a new gardening-related blogger, Facebook page or Instagram account to follow (Hint: Garden Maker has all three!). Bring together a group of gardening friends online or in person to share tips, tricks and knowledge. Contact your extension service or Master Gardener chapter to find classes or seminars in your local area.
Spread the joy of gardening. The best way to learn is often to teach others. Look for opportunities to share the knowledge you’ve built over the years with novice gardeners who are just getting started, or kids who have never set foot in garden soil, and help grow the gardening community!