The start of a new year feels like a chance to take charge and start over with new goals and a new attitude.
Raised beds

Vegetables grow more efficiently in raised beds.

My garden and I share some shortcomings, so this year I’m writing resolutions for both of us. We have some lofty goals for 2009. We resolve to lose weight and get in shape, become less cluttered and better organized. We will finish projects — one or two, at least — and fulfill a few dreams. By solving some of my garden’s problems, maybe I’ll make some headway on a few of my own.

Years ago, I rototilled swaths of lawn and planted new gardens with abandon. Fifty tomato plants at a time and row upon row of carrots, corn, beets, potatoes, beans, and onions filled our vegetable patch. I ordered dozens of seed packets of new flower and vegetable varieties and scoured the local nurseries for shrubs, trees, and perennials. Unfortunately, I left maintenance out of my grandiose plans.

Resolution #1: Plant vegetables more efficiently in raised beds.

Resolution #2: Replace a flower bed or two with shrubs.

No matter how early and earnestly I begin, the weeding and edging get away from me sometime in June. Seemingly overnight, the crisp edges and new mulch I slaved over in April and May are overrun with grass, chickweed, goldenrod, and Jill-over-the-ground. By August, I’ve nearly given up.

Spring bulbs

My New Year’s gardening resolutions start in early spring.

Resolution #3: Weed for ten minutes every day. Keep the tubtrug, kneeler, and gloves by the back door.

My grandmother would say that “my eyes are bigger than my stomach”, which means, among other things, that I tend to accumulate more plants than I have clear ground to put them in. Although some of my gardens are well designed and even lovely, other areas look like a Sunday afternoon yard sale. Our barn loft is littered with discarded nursery pots and all sorts of gardening equipment that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Resolution #4: Shop with a list and a small, clean car. Leave the trailer at home.

Resolution #5: Finish past projects before starting new ones.

The start of a new year feels like a clean slate. It’s a chance to take charge and start over with a fresh set of goals and a new attitude. The gardening year ahead is bound to get weedy in patches, but as long as I manage to grow at least some of my own food and share the flowers from my garden, I’ll call it a success. Happy New Year!

-Ann Whitman
Horticulturist, Gardener’s Supply