Monday, January 10, 2011

Gardening Resolutions for 2011

Have you broken your New Year's resolutions yet?  I'm not big on making resolutions, yet every year I vow to lose weight, exercise more, adopt healthier habits, start writing the next great American novel, etc., etc.  But I find January 1 is not the best time for changing my ways--it's too cold to walk outside, my favorite form of exercise, and I can't just throw out the leftover Christmas cookies and fudge, now can I?  It is a good time, however, for making new Gardening Resolutions.  As I sit and drool over all the new plant and seed catalogs coming into my mailbox, I'm thinking ahead to spring.  This year I vow to adopt some better habits in the garden and not to make the same mistakes from the past year. Here are my top ten Gardening Resolutions for 2011:

1. Find a better way of marking seeds for indoor seed starting.  You may recall the pieces of poster board I used last year didn't work very well--they disintegrated after several waterings or fell out of some of the seed trays.  This year I'm going to use something plastic or short popsicle sticks so that when I plant seeds, expecting to get these . . .

I don't get these instead . . .

The kohlrabis were tasty, but sure not as pretty as gray-headed coneflowers!

2.  And speaking of seeds, this year I vow not to get so carried away ordering seeds.   I was enticed by photos of pretty blooms and glowing descriptions of veggies in the seed catalogs to order more than I had intended.  Then Renee's Garden kindly offered me some free seeds, and of course, I couldn't pass that up. And then all kinds of interesting seeds from fellow bloggers came in the mail through Monica's seed exchange so that I had more seeds than garden space to plant them in!

Wonder if these leftover seeds will still be good this year?  Hmmm, while I'm at it, doing some cleaning and organizing ought to be put on the resolution list, too.

3. Even worse than seed buying is my addiction to plant shopping.  This year I vow to cut down on impulse plant purchases, and think about where I will put a plant before I buy something just because it's "so pretty."

Just one stage of the "pot ghetto" last year.
. . . Nah, who am I kidding?  You know I'll never keep this resolution--I might as well cross it off the list right now.

4. Mulch, mulch, mulch!  And mulch early before the weeds, especially the weedy grasses take over.

Besides saving me from hours of work, it would be nice to show a photo of the vegetable garden or a new bloom like this Gaura without having to crop it so close to keep all the weeds out of the photo.  (And since my photo-editing program is acting up today, you may be seeing more of my weeds since I can't crop any of these photos.)

5. Invest in some good tomato cages.  The ones I have, although better than nothing, are the cheap, conical ones.  A few have gotten rusty, and most of them have ends that are at crazy angles from repeated use.  They're not very sturdy; last year strong winds or perhaps an errant Golden Retriever galloping through the vegetable garden knocked a few of them over, and they never could be propped up right again.

Time to stop being such a tightwad and spend a little money to have a better tomato crop this year.

6. Plant more zinnias!  Longtime readers will remember how much I love these colorful, easy-to-grow annuals.  Last year I sowed them directly in the roadside garden as usual in May, but heavy June rains apparently washed away all the seeds. This year, if the same thing happens, I'm going to re-plant and re-plant again, if necessary, even if it's late July.

How I missed seeing these beauties this past year!

7. Plant more ornamental grasses.  Most gardeners would be surprised to know that I didn't have a single ornamental grass in my garden until this year.  But I've always been a little afraid of where to plant them--you see, we have lots of weedy grasses growing around the farm that require constant cutting down, and I didn't want anyone to think I had one of these weeds growing in my flowerbeds!

Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah' has changed my mind about grasses.  Planted in late August of this year, it's only had a little time to settle into my garden, but wow, it even looks good encased in hoarfrost!

8. Be more diligent about watering the roadside garden and planter under the oak tree. I make this resolution every year, and usually by mid-summer I've gotten so lazy forgetful that I have to replace half the plants in this container.

Maybe I'll be more motivated if I remind myself that the 1/4 mile walk down the lane
and back carrying jugs of water will be a great calorie-burner.

9.  Pay attention to frost warnings! 

This fall I wanted to bring more plants inside to overwinter, including my two 'Illumination' begonias.  I did bring one in, but it was too late.  After one night in the chilly garage, it gave up the fight and promptly died.

And while I'm at it, I really should throw those Halloween pumpkins onto the compost pile in November before they become frozen fast to the patio steps:)

10.  Finally, this year I vow to leave my gardening gloves out of Sophie's reach. 

I don't think I need to explain . . . except to say at least these were a cheap pair from the Dollar Store.  I'm not going to show you my first pair of Ethel gloves--it would make you cry:)

Ten resolutions sounds like a manageable number; surely I can stick to most of these.  But I really should add Exercise back to the list, especially since # 3 doesn't count anyway.  We have a big wedding coming up in May, so this is primarily a personal goal.  It's a beach wedding, and this mother of the bride doesn't want to be mistaken for a beached whale.  But it's also a goal for gardening.  Those first few weeks of gardening season can be torture if you're digging and toting 40 pound bags of topsoil and compost around with muscles that have atrophied over the winter, where the only strenuous exercise has been to turn the pages of gardening magazines.     . . .  Now where did I put those dumbbells??

Whatever your gardening resolutions for the year, here's to a great year in the garden in 2011!


  1. Rose, Those are excellent resolutions - let us know what you decide on for seed labels - mine are typically a sodden mess by May.Love your zinnia and panicum pix!

  2. You have some good resolutions posted. I can't seem to sink my teeth into a resolution as yet. It will come to me. Having that wedding to keep you focused on losing some weight should help you and no I couldn't throw away any fudge that is for sure. Good luck.

  3. I'm glad you won't give up on plant buying, especially those impulse purchases. Often, those turn out to be the favorite plants. I have to confess, there are still pumpkins on my front porch. I wish I had gotten rid of them while I had the chance.

  4. Good morning Rose. I don't do resolutions as I forget what they were the next day.
    As for your plant labels/markers-- I use old mini blinds-- you can cut them into the size you want, write with either pencil or marker and they last.
    I agree about the Panicum, we shall have to compare notes next summer as both of ours mature.
    My yard looks like your header right now. Have had the dogs out in my bathrobe and rubber garden boots---6inches deep...once I get dressed I will bring the camera.
    Hope you keep your resolutions-- they are good ones.

  5. Hi Rose, You had fun with this post!! I have some resolutions to make (that's for sure!)but I haven't embarked on the project yet.

    Would you believe I'm still sewing Christmas presents (those grandsons' flannel pjs are both nearly finished and ready for mailing!).

    Happy 2011 - and I think I need to add "make a trip to Illinois" to my resolution list!!

  6. 'Shenandoah' is one of my target plants this year. I'm hoping it will thrive in my Mississippi garden.

  7. I think keeping the garden tidy will be something I will strive to do. Some ceanothus bushes have succumbed to the hard frost & might need to be cutback or replaced..
    I have no room for seed sowing. It is a pity. I would only need a tiny sprinkling. I will be interested if those seeds do flower, from last year.
    Love that ginger furry *plant* in that pot! I also thought that tiny chair under the tree with the plants on it looked great.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  8. Most seeds are good for years! One of my crisper drawers is slam full of seeds. You can never have too many. :) You had me laughing over the kohlrabis.

  9. What a fun post for a cold winter day. I absolutely loved seeing your begonias, roadside planter, zinnias and the rest.

    I do think you should scrap #3. Will not work (for me either). I find it hard to overwinter plants. Some do well, but most just die.

    Fun resolutions and good way to take the edge off winter.

    How lovely, a wedding to look forward to! And at the beach to boot. Congrats!

  10. How lovely, a beach wedding, dear Rose! You put me to shame ... I have made no resolutions (so broken none) but try each day to live healthy and happy and do at least one good deed for someone besides myself ... a daily life challenge in my crazy life :)

  11. Good resolutions Rose, I'm sure you will try your best to stick to it. ;)

  12. These are all great resolutions, Rose! I'm right there with you on the tomato cages and not going overboard with seed buying! I find that popsicle sticks are great for ID'ing seedlings, and you can find sturdy ones at garden centers (thereby avoiding having to consume the popsicles).

  13. Now why does some of this sound so strangely familiar Rose? Good luck with all your gardening resolutions ~ you will have to give us an end of year report! Hope that you achieve your wedding goal too ~ will keep my fingers firmly crossed for you.

  14. I could almost hijack your entire list, most of it applies to me too, though no summer beach wedding. I plan to sow more zinnias too. Plant labels - don't fall in to the same trap I did of trying to use (washed)used wooden lollipop sticks. The rapidly become covered in mold making them unreadable if used in a propogator or moist environment! Good luck with the gardening - and the wedding.

  15. Hi Rose,

    These are all great. I would say I have a problem too with ordering too many seeds. And I have to stay away from the gardening center or we just get to look at the pots of flowers instead of eat actual food.

    My gardening resolution for 2011 is to finish my rock wall that I barely got started on in the fall.

    Love the glove photo, very cute.

    Thanks for commenting on my recent post.

  16. I have some of the same ones! I'm enjoying reading about everyone's garden resolutions. Exercise should be tops on my list for sure. Too cute on the glove!

  17. Rose, that final picture made me laugh! I have a bad habit of leaving gloves AND tools in inopportune places. The neighbor's Bichon has been known to filch them if he spots one out front!

    Old miniblind slats make good plant markers, by the way.

  18. Oh, a meandering garden of native prairie grasses would be wonderful! Surely no one would dare to call them weeds.

    You know those Ethel gloves are comfortable, but they just don't last in Florida. The sandy soil tears holes in them almost as fast as Sophie can.

  19. Ha! Great resolutions Rose! I wholeheartedly agree with you getting some good tomato cages and planting more ornamental grasses. The grasses would look great near some of your coneflowers I think!

  20. Terrific resolutions and several I am going to 'borrow' as my own! More zinnias for sure and seeing what Sophie did to you gloves reminded me that I want to get a few pairs of hardier gloves! Keep warm! gail

  21. love your resolutions, especially the one to plant lots of zinnias :D they are butterfly magnets. and so darn pretty!

  22. Oh Rose, what a cheering post, humor, flowers, lovely photos and good, common sense advice! I am in love with Panicums now, and admire your Shenandoah in the cold! We too need to get some of those muscles back to tip top gardening shape, just a small amount of cutting left me tuckered out! Be sure and take better care of those gloves. We buy them by the case! :-)

  23. Thanks, everyone for the comments, especially the tip on using old mini-blinds for markers--I'll have to see if I can scrounge some up.

    MMD, I agree--some of my biggest successes have been impulse purchases.

    Maggie May, LOL, the "tiny" chair is actually full-size--it's that the oak tree is so big it dwarfs anything under it.

    I'm off to Indy now to pick up Daughter from the airport. Will she have a rude awakening coming from Phoenix! She's going to be here through the weekend so I may not get much blogging done for awhile.

  24. I laughed over your seed mix-up, cat in the pot and chewed gloves. My dear old dog chewed through my handbag to get food inside. It's surreal to see all those summery pictures during a blizzard. Good luck with your resolutions.

  25. Rose that's quite the aggresive list! I broke the only one that I made..yup like you..lose some weight. I have no excuses living here in the sunshine for the next three months..I have to STOP taking chocolate on my hiking trips!!
    Yup your daughter will have culture shock when she arrives to a snow covered wonderland.
    loving the sunshine state!xo
    Stay warm and inspired to stick to your resolutions!

  26. Wow! I agree with Naturegirl - that is SOME list gal! Happy New Year!

  27. I giggled my way through most of your resolutions Rose! If I was a resolution-maker, my garden (and non-gardening!) resolutions would look a lot like yours!

  28. If my flower garden were half as beautiful as yours I would be happy so I resolve to be more rose-like!

    I was in the library today and do you think I could remember the name of the book you recommended? Of course not.

  29. Love to look at your photos of summer with a raging blizzard howling outside. Those begonias were gorgeous!

  30. I couldn't identify that one plant in your holding area that looks like a cat. I also love your begonia pics. I've managed to keep one outdoor begonia alive for a few years by potting and moving it inside when we have one of our rare freezes. They reward such attention.
    And for goodness sake, get yourself some new gloves!

  31. That hoar frost is beautiful.

    Gosh, that's a lot too keep to, but all fun stuff. I love buying garden plants, I just hope to have a garden again one day, that is my own, and then I can perhaps indulge a little.


  32. Hi, Rose!
    Oh, I don't even know where to begin. Such great thoughts. I was reading the 'vow not to be impulsive with plant purchases' and was half tempted to leave an impulsive comment right then and there!

    But, happily, I read a little further to discover that you won't turn into that kind of person :D Three cheers for impulse purchases! A gardens chocked full of Zinnias.

  33. When I got to the one about plant buying, I thought to myself, "Yeah, right." LOL. I told my husband, "You know, I'm a gardener. Plants are what I do, so you might as well get used to me buying new plants on a regular basis." I told him when he stops paying green fees, I'll stop buying plants. ;-)

  34. I love what you said about having the leftover Christmas food, so how could you make a resolution concerning weight? On impulse, I bought some biscottis that were 50% off after Christmas that we are still eating. At least we didn't scarf them down too quickly.

    When I got to where you were not going to buy any more plants without knowing where they were going to go, I somehow felt stressed over it. I was also thinking how pretty that area looked. I was relieved when I read that you decided to scratch that one off the list. LOL

    I don't get around to making resolutions. I am hoping to go into gardening season with a cleaner house, and it will be so, but probably not as clean as I'd like.


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