Today’s post can be heard on the public radio show Crop to Cuisine, hosted by Dov Hirsch.
When the season winds down, gardeners look around at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the past year. Good things are celebrated; we nod smugly over a plant that thrived or a trellis that actually held something up. The bad is ruthlessly rouged from the garden, pulled before it can reproduce.
But the ugly is somewhere in between, and most gardeners rarely wait until the end of the year to make promises for change next season. In my garden the choice for New Year’s resolutions is vast, but I’ve narrowed it down to the top 10:
1. I won’t believe everything the seed catalog tells me. The people who write up the description for seeds are very good at their job; they make each and every one sound so wonderful I can’t live without it. For the gullible gardener this leads to catastrophe or, at least, an empty bank account.
2. I will not start more plants than can fit on the grow shelves. This past year the explosive growth of my seedlings was alarming, forcing my spouse to construct adjustable shelving out of two-by-fours and a few bricks. Since I start seeds in my home, not a greenhouse, this interior décor was a bit too rustic for our taste.
3. I will seek out other tomato lovers and start a fruit swap instead of growing a gazillion plants in my garden. Let’s face it: every variety is intriguing to an avowed tomato-geek. And with thousands of types, the problem is space. Surely there are other tomato aficionados who would like to try more varieties but don’t have the space to grow them.
4. I will succession sow stir fry greens from spring through fall. Building on this year’s success in boosting our diet with vitamin-packed vegetables, I’ll hang a shade cloth over one bed and keep the crisp greens thriving through summer. Red Russian kale and tangy Tatsoi should look beautiful together in the wok.
5. Search for and try new recipes for cooking with stir fry greens, because flavored olive oil and cheese are only good the first twelve times greens are served.
7. Visit Colorado’s outstanding public gardens. Hudson Gardens, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the gardens at Kendrick Lake, or the Betty Ford Alpine garden are a few of our botanical treasures that should be visited often. When you need a break, a day spent strolling their paths is inspirational.
8. I will not judge my garden against others, particularly if those others are famous “garden gurus.” While they might have an army to keep their gardens neat and tidy, I don’t. Every garden is as unique as a fingerprint; mine just looks like a crime scene.
9. I have a landscape plan, now I’ll use it. But renovating a landscape is a work of love and patience; it takes time to do it well. Phasing in a good plan over a few years is one way to upgrade without breaking the budget.
10. I will weed my perennial beds, giving them as much time and attention as the vegetable garden. This resolution is a golden oldie; a little lie I tell myself every year.
One thing I won’t do is renovate the back lawn. I love the checkerboard of grasses back there, where buffalo grass, bluegrass, and tall fescue duke it out, because the entertainment value is too great. The stunned silence of friends as they gaze upon my turf train wreck is amusing.