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2020 Vision: New Year’s Resolutions for the Gardener


2020 Vision: New Year’s Resolutions for the Gardener

January 2, 2020

With the door to 2019 closed now, it’s time to think about opening new ones for 2020, and specifically opening up to more kind actions, healthy thoughts, and positive directions. And maybe we can add to the list–because we are plant people, after all–a bigger crop of peaches, peonies that actually bloom, and maybe no critters eating holes in our roses.

This time of year is also about looking back. And in the garden specifically, there are many lessons to be learned from last year’s successes and failures. The devoted gardener recognizes these lessons and (hopefully) tries not to repeat the sometimes costly and always disappointing mistakes. With that said, here are a handful of resolutions you can try to focus on when you head back out into the garden for another year of wonder, teachings, and, just maybe, a bushel of juicy peaches.

N.B.: Featured photograph by Claire Cottrell for Gardenista, from A Wild Beautiful Mess: Anne Schwalbe’s Garden in Rural Germany.

Focus on Your Soil

Above: Photograph by Jim Powell, from Dirty Secrets: 9 Ways to Improve Garden Soil.

Healthy soil is the holy grail, and any healthy, happy plant can tell you that. This year, aim to get your soil in shape by taking the time to assess the condition of your current soil. Is it clay, sandy or rocky? Or maybe roots from a large tree have stolen all your plantable earth. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can amend accordingly. And remember to use organic amendments and fertilizers as synthetic fertilizers harm beneficial microorganism in the soil; plus, these chemicals leach into the groundwater causing water pollution.

Be the Perennial Student

There is always, always something new to learn about gardening, so consider joining a gardening club, taking classes at a community college, or becoming a master gardener. Plus don’t forget that your local library is a great—and free—resource to borrow books and learn about new ways to compost or just to couch-travel with a gorgeous botanical book.

Tune Up

Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle for Gardenista, from DIY: How to Clean and Care for Garden Pruners.

Garden maintenance is sometimes not easy, but it can be less arduous if your garden tools are properly cared for. Remember this year to to routinely sharpen your pruners, either with a sharpening stone or professionally, so that your hand doesn’t get strained from forcing cuts. Pruners and clippers should also be routinely cleaned,  especially after cutting a diseased stem. If you clean an infected blade with rubbing alcohol, your pruners won’t be harboring pathogens and spreading it to the next cut.

Plant Garden Themes

A container filled with scented geraniums. Photograph by Justine Hand, from Scents and Sensibility: The Scented Geranium is Spring&#8\2\17;s Must-Have Plant.
Above: A container filled with scented geraniums. Photograph by Justine Hand, from Scents and Sensibility: The Scented Geranium is Spring’s Must-Have Plant.

Try something new in the garden and plant around a theme. Some ideas to consider: a spa garden where you grow plants that can be crafted into beauty products (think lavender, rosemary, and citrus) or a tasty tea garden (think peppermint, lemon balm, and lemon verbena). Even consider planting mosquito repellents like pelargoniums, catnip, and marigolds. These theme gardens work wonderfully in large containers.

Gutter Care

Above: Photograph by Claire Takacs, from Can This Garden Be Saved: ‘My Garden is Windy’.

This year actually remember your gutters. Not a very sexy idea, but clogged gutters can make water fail to divert away from your foundation and can pour onto plants, creating run off and erosion. Put a note on your calendar to clean gutters before a rainy spell is predicted, and possibly invest in gutter covers to mitigate problems and reduce your time spent on a precarious roof.

Sharing Is Caring

When your zucchini plant bursts at the seams and you can’t even think about baking another zucchini cake, this is the year to share your extra produce with your neighbors and friends or leave a bowl or cardboard box out front of your house with a sign for people passing by to help themselves to your bounty. Wasted produce is never a good thing, so share as much excess as you can and help spread the edible joy.

For more resolutions, see:

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