Master Gardener: A Gardener’s New Year’s Resolutions

By Jerry Vitalis, Chisago County Master Gardener

   I’m writing this on the first day of the new year, and I’ve already broken some New Year’s resolutions. However, I think it’s important to keep trying to improve, it’s also important with gardening.  Some years ago the Minnesota Extension Service put together a list of New Year’s resolutions based on suggestions they heard from gardeners.

  The first one is to resolve not to bite off more than you can chew, or handle.  Gardeners are all alike when it comes to planting too much.  It’s so easy to plant when it’s cool and there are no weeds to worry about. 

Later on when the weeds come, too much or not enough rain, and other things to do, we get overwhelmed and discouraged.  I will add that you should put down mulch of some kind as soon as you can to help the weed problems later on.

   Resolve not to rush the season by planting too early.  Never plant until the soil is fit for seeds or plants. Learn which plants can thrive in cool soils, such as spinach, radish, peas, and lettuce.  Potatoes, corn, beans, etc., will rot in the ground if the soil is too cold or have a weak stand.

   Resolve to choose flowers, vegetables, trees, and shrubs that are disease resistant and have few, if any major insect problems.  It’s the best way to reduce or eliminate pesticide spraying.  Preventing the problem is so much easier than trying to solve them later.

  Resolve to look for landscape plants that are well adapted to soil, sun, and moisture conditions in your yard.  Avoid planting acid-loving trees or shrubs in alkaline soil.  If you plant alkaline-loving plants in acid soil, you must amend the soil or the production will be poor.

 Last but almost important is to resolve to keep a garden journal, jotting down notes about specific plants and how well they perform.  I have written many times about how my journal writing over the years has helped me be a better gardener.  Now if I can do better on the other four resolutions I will be a better gardener.

 I hope that many can take advantage of our upcoming Spring Class Series and Bonanza.  Our first class will be held on Tuesday, January 17 from 6:00 to 7:30 pm at the Maple Commons Senior Dining Center in North Branch.  

Jim Birkholz, owner of Pleasant Valley Orchard will give his popular session on pruning fruit trees.  You won’t be disappointed you came. 

 If you need more information call our office at 651-277-0151 or call me at 651-257-4496.

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