Gardener's Resolutions

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There's a cage in there somewhere.

It’s not too late for New Year’s resolutions, so I have been pondering what I could do better in the garden next year. It’s a long list — believe me — and I won’t go through them all. But, here are a few resolutions that I’m making that other gardeners might want to consider, too.

  • This year I will deadhead more. Picking off spent blooms not only instantly cleans up the look of the garden, it encourages more blooms and nips diseases in the bud.
  • This year I will stake (not cage) my tomatoes. By late July, my vegetable patch looks like a jungle, and most of the tomatoes are falling over, sprawling, or bending their cages like the Tower of Pisa. A deeply planted stake and some old nylons would keep the tomatoes upright and more productive. Also, it’s OK to prune excess foliage on tomatoes — and if you stake them, it is recommended.
  • This year I will not plant warm-season vegetables too early. The urge to get tomatoes, peppers and other warm-season crops in the ground is overwhelming, but self-control will result in healthier and happier plants. Minnesota’s last frost day is May 15 and many gardeners will not plant tomatoes before June 1.
  • This is not so much a resolution as a plan: I will garden in the morning. Because I’m self-employed, my schedule is flexible. But in the past, I’ve always worked early in the day and gardened in the afternoon and evening. The problem with that is it’s easy to put it off or be interrupted with other activities.  It’s also hotter. So, this year, I’ll try to get outside for an hour or so before heading to the office.
  • Finally — and this will not be hard to keep — I will dig up more grass for flower, herb, or vegetable plantings.

What are your garden resolutions?

6 Replies to “Gardener's Resolutions”

  1. My garden resolutions for 2009:

    -Try to do more staggered planting so that all the cilantro (for example) doesn’t go to seed the same week.

    -Like you, dig up more grass for vegetable plantings.

    -Try growing something from the brassicas – broccoli or cabbage, perhaps. I’ve never tried any of them, as they take a fair amount of space.

    -Remember to get a straw mulch on the veggie beds to conserve moisture and keep the weeds down.

  2. I think one of the resolutions is backwards. Garden in the morning and THEN go into the office? Oh dear, I would never make it out of the garden! I say, do the work that has to be done first, and then knock off, as early as possible to go out into the garden. Much more enticing reward to look forward to….

  3. Tomato management: for several years, while R. was engaged in the Internet Tomato Trials and we were growing about 35 plants each summer, we grew them up strings suspended from what we called The Arcade. We set up pound-in metal fence posts in two rows, topped them with 2″x4″s (this was serious architecture!), hooped them with PVC arches, and put a plastic covered-wagon top over them. Then we dropped strings down from the 2×4 braces and trained the tomatoes up. For indeterminates, this was brilliant. They could go all they wanted. The plastic roof kept the rain off and reduced rot almost completely. Rains may not be an issue where you are, but here, they are significant. I think the plastic had some greenhousing effect as well, though the sides were fully open and pollinators came and went freely. We used drip on irrigators individual plants. You would want to choose where you sited such a thing. It was not a stylish addition to the landscape, but served its practical purpose well.

    S.

  4. That sounds like quite a set-up! Last year, we had lots of problems with blossom-end rot because of a wet spring. One year, I tried the upside down tomato gizmo. I got a few tomatoes, but what a bother!

  5. Yeah — for some reason we thought that upside-down thing would be brilliant. I guess there is a reason most plants grow from the earth upwards. 😉

    S.

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