It’s that time of year again when we make those half-hearted resolutions that will be forgotten before January has ended. If you are like me, you probably put “lose ten pounds and exercise more” on your list every year! We’re great at focusing on personal health and fitness goals, but we often neglect to consider the fitness of our home and outside space. Why not make a few gardening new year resolutions this year to enhance the health of your garden? Here are a few resolutions to consider that will get your garden in great shape:
Spend as much time tending your soil as you do tending your plants. It really is all about the soil. If you create a healthy, rich environment for your plants, they will be much happier, healthier and have fewer insect and disease issues. Get a soil analysis done to determine what nutrients your soil is lacking. Add compost and soil conditioner to the native earth and mix well to create a loose, crumbly soil that drains well.
Keep your garden equipment clean and maintained. I am always misplacing my tools or not taking the time to clean them properly after use. I have a very expensive pair of pruners that are almost useless now because of my neglect. When I prune my plants, the rough edges often tear the stems instead of making a clean cut. This really can affect plant health and introduce disease. Take care of your tools and they will help take care of your plants and give you good service for years to come.
Start a garden journal and have a plan for how to improve your outside space. Write down the names of the plants in your beds, where they are and care instructions. Make notes of what plants are thriving and what needs to be moved or replaced. Keep a list of projects you want to do in the future. Good documentation can help you create and maintain a healthy garden.
Plant your garden to encourage wildlife. A garden filled with diverse plants will attract birds, bees, butterflies and other interesting critters. (Yes, I know that the deer may come as well!) Select plants with berries, nuts and nectar and watch your outside space come alive! Add a few bird feeders and a water source and you will ensure your new friends hang around your garden for the whole family to enjoy.
Plant at least one garden bed with something to eat. There is nothing tastier than a fruit or vegetable grown in your own garden and picked to eat right from the vine or tree! If you are intimidated by growing a vegetable garden, plant an herb container on your back deck and have fresh seasoning for cooking. Get your kids involved with the planting and harvesting. Studies show that children who tend their own gardens eat the food they grow. Your whole family will be healthier and your garden will become more than just a place for showy flowers.
Make your garden more welcoming for you, your family and friends. Is your garden relaxing and accessible with comfortable seating and shade on those hot days? If not, consider planning simple entertainment area. It doesn’t have to be expensive – just a few comfortable chairs under a shade tree make a big difference. Add a swing and cushions in a secluded space and you have your own private garden retreat to relax and unwind.
Learn to live with a little imperfection for your own peace of mind and the health of your garden! Don’t pick up the bug spray at the first sign of insect damage. Is a little leaf damage really going to kill your plant? Monitor your garden and look for signs of trouble before it becomes a problem, starting with less invasive ways to control the issue before you reach for synthetic chemicals. A hard spray from the hose will dislodge many insects. Pruning out infected leaves can often manage a fungal disease problem. Add 3-4 inches of mulch to suppress weeds. A garden is ever changing and always a little messy…like life.
Take some time this month to make some garden resolutions. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish this spring!