New Year’s Resolutions for Gardeners

Gardening New Year’s Resolutions:
It’s that time of year again, when almost everyone is making resolutions: to go to the gym more, eat less, quit those bad habits. All those are good ideas I’m sure, but have you thought about the resolutions you could make in your garden? Here are some of my ideas to make my 2016 garden even better:
10: Go through all my old seed packets BEFORE doing my seed order. I’ll admit I have a bit of a seed buying problem. My catalogues usually arrive in the dead of winter, and they bring with them the promise of spring green and summer bounty. However, do I really need to buy more green beans when I have 3 half full packages in my seed box? It’s important to use seeds up within 2-5 years, as germination rates decrease over time. Properly stored seeds can last forever, but our homes are often too warm for long-term seed storage.

Does this seem like too many seeds?

Does this seem like too many seeds?

9: Share. I get better at this every year. Last year I split my seed order with a friend, so each of us got half of the package. This allowed me to have the variety I prefer without going hopelessly over budget, or worse, starting 40 flats of tomatoes. I also shared Phacelia seeds; great annual flowers that are wonderful for attracting bees. I grew some and passed the seeds along to anyone who needed some bee plants. In return, a bee-keeping friend gave me a jar of honey from her first ever harvest!
8: Make and apply more compost tea. I prefer a nice chai, but plants love their compost tea. Compost tea is as simple as putting compost in a bucket of water, letting it steep and then pouring it on and around your plants, or it can be as complicated as adding compost in a mesh bag to pure water and aerating it strongly before spraying with a commercial sprayer. The reason compost tea works is that it greatly increases the microbial content of your soil. Soil microbes grow very quickly in an aerated solution, and once in the soil, they actually bring the nutrients your plants need directly to their roots. Here’s a video that shows the awesomeness of compost tea: Compost Tea
7: Grow corn. I’ve never grown corn before, but I was delighted to find seeds for a beautiful dry corn called “Glass Gem”. It is so pretty, it hardly looks real. I have more room for it now that I’ve completely transformed my front lawn into a permaculture style garden.
6: Mulch! Soil always benefits from being protected from the sun by a layer of mulch. In my veggie garden I love to use straw, which breaks down completely by the end of the season. My perennials would benefit from more mulch, so I will be adding compost, and a layer of fine shredded bark.
5: Process the harvest throughout the season. My garden is full of abundance, and often I get a bit overwhelmed at the amount of celery or kale I grow. This results in me pretending not to see it until it gets to late fall and I realize I have to do something with it NOW! This summer, I will fire up the dehydrator earlier in the season, and make some more scrumptious veggie powder that I can add to soups, sauces or dips.

Delicious salad from my garden veggies, with added avocado

Delicious salad from my garden veggies, with added avocado

 

4: Get those watering systems in place. I had great success with my first wicking bed last summer, but I never got around to setting up the drip system for my strawberry ladder, and my inconsistent watering really affected their growth.
3: Take more pictures! I want to remember to document my successes and failures, as well as take pictures of all the beautiful gardens I get to visit throughout the summer.
2: Volunteer more. Last year a team of volunteers and I worked very hard to create a permaculture Food Forest at a local Calgary Elementary school, and it was a huge success. I would like to continue to share my skills in this way, and I especially want to volunteer more for Grow Calgary, an organization whose mandate I really appreciate. According to their website: “On an 11-acre parcel of land just west of Canada Olympic Park, a group of dedicated volunteers turned the soil and harvested the first crop on Canada’s largest urban agricultural farm. Our goal is to grow fresh produce for the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank to ensure all Calgarians have access to healthy, local food.” When I helped with the potato harvest I was treated to a baked potato picnic, complete with a taste of their fresh honeycomb.  Check them out at Grow Calgary

Fruit trees and bushes at the school garden

Fruit trees and bushes at the school garden

Perennial food beds at the school garden

Perennial food beds at the school garden

Water harvesting arbour and wicking beds at the school garden.

Water harvesting arbour and wicking beds at the school garden.

1: Do more of what works, do less of what doesn’t. Sometimes we have to let go of those uphill battles, and just focus on what works in our garden. I struggle to grow a decent cauliflower, but my kohlrabi are amazing, and the kids eat them before I can get them into the stir-fry. My plum tree was so damaged by heavy fall snows and limbs falling on it that it is time to admit defeat and cut it back severely to re-shape it. Gardening should be enjoyable as often as it is back-breaking, so if it feels like a constant struggle, it is probably time to take a minute to re-focus and ask for help if needed. (PS: My advice is more compost tea.)

Posted Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 under Gardening ideas, Quick tips, Uncategorized.

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