It is time again for New Year’s Resolutions. Lose weight. Become more self-sufficient. Spend less money on food. Get outside more. Spend more time in family activities. Exercise more. Learn something new. Have fun. Improve your nutrition. ..
I heard an idea on the radio yesterday suggesting that instead of a resolution you choose a word. Then you let that word be the focus of your year. Perhaps “peace” or “environment” or “energy” or “patience” could be your choice. Then as the year goes on you find different ways to integrate, interpret, interact with your word.
I would like to suggest a word that is both a noun and a verb. A word that is simulating, absorbing, productive, satisfying, creative, fulfilling, relaxing, challenging, health giving, filled with potential and beautiful. Not only does it have all those qualities, but could accomplish all those New Year’s resolutions above. “Impossible,” you say, “what one word could encompass so much?” “GARDEN”
Gardening Through The Year (GTTY) is a new series for the novice gardener and the veteran and all those in-between. The goal of these monthly articles is not only to encourage those new to gardening, but also provide a forum for more experienced gardeners to share their expertise and experience. It can be a place for questions and answers. The best part is that it is local and we share the seasons, weather, day length and frost dates. Advice and information is for the Capital District. Each month the article will contain a list of activities for the month, gardening methods, solutions to problems, how-to’s, and whatever else is “right” for that month.
So what does a gardener here do in January? Think, plan and buy seed. If you have never gardened before, you first have to decide where the garden will be and how big. If you already have a garden, you may consider expanding it. The size really depends on what you want to grow, but placement is easy – it should be in the full sun, 6 hours or more of sun each day. Also, gardens should not be too near trees, not only because of shade, but the tree roots will compete for water.
To help you get started thinking:
What do you want to grow?
Vegetables Flowers Herbs Berries Tree Fruit
Ground Raised bed Container
All family needs summer needs occasional use
Small/medium/large Sun/shade wet/dry clear/lawn/scrub
fertile/poor soil at home/away fenced/open containers/in ground
Tools in hand
Shovel hoe fork garden rake grass rake
cultivator trowel pruning nippers pruning loppers
Can do anything difficulty lifting unable to kneel or bend
Little (<2 hrs/wk) Moderate (3-10 hrs/wk) Lots (>10 hrs/wk)
City only well or spring carry/hose
One Two Family
Ask those who will be eating from, contributing labor to or enjoying watching the garden to list their favorite vegetables. Then the fun begins. Choosing the variety(ies) for each of the vegetables comes next. The experienced gardener will have a favorite seed catalog or a few and many varieties that have been tried and proven true. If you are new gardener, the choices can be overwhelming and it is better to buy your seed at Hewitts, Walmart, or your local Agway, garden center or hardware store. Many times in January there are big discounts, as high as 50% off. Make a family outing of it. Go to several places. Look at all the pictures and read the packages. The information there will give you the spacing and number of days to maturity. If you are buying two kinds of any vegetable (like beans or corn or lettuce), buy varieties that mature at different times so you will have a continuous supply.
If you are feeling very adventuresome, Google “Seed Catalogs” and be prepared to be overwhelmed. Once you order from a catalog, you will on their list for many years and probably the lists of many others seed companies with whom they share your name. This is not all bad, because you can leisurely leaf through pages of pictures and read the descriptions while sipping tea by the fire. Here are a few of my favorites:
Pinetree Seeds superseeds.com
Jung Seeds and Plants jungseed.com
Gurney’s Seed & Nursery gurneys.com
Territorial Seed Company territorialseed.com
Harris Seeds harrisseeds.com
R. H. Shumway’s rhshumway.com
The Cook’s Garden cooksgarden.com
I encourage you to choose “GARDEN” as your word for the year and literally reap great benefits as we focus together each month on the many joys of gardening.