2016 stretches out bright and shiny before us. What surprises will it bring? How will we grow? What will we grow?
Whether you’re an experienced gardener or looking to get your hands dirty for the first time, gardening can be a gift to yourself (and others) in so many ways! The good work we put into planting something in the ground, or with our community, frequently has a way of yielding personal benefit.
Over the next five weeks, we’d like to suggest some New Year’s resolutions/goals/whatever-you-want-to-call-them that are sure to spread like mint, fresh and pervasive, from the personal to the garden. To get the dropped ball rolling, we first recommend:
1. Get in shape.
Eat better and Exercise.
This is the #1 New Year’s resolution (and not just because we put it first on our list). The great news is that gardening is a wonderful way to get fit! Every time you squat to pull out a week or pluck a ripe strawberry, you’re working your core, your glutes, your hamstrings. Repeatedly reaching across a garden bed or hefting a shovel full of compost has it’s benefits: some estimates suggest gardening can burn 100-200 calories an hour. Even better, gardening is a one-two punch for health: not only does it improve overall fitness, but everything that comes out of that gorgeous plot is chock-full of nutrition!
Make a plan and keep a garden notebook.
It’s easy to overlook just how much space a potato needs, or to be stuck with a near empty bed as you wait… for seedlings to… grow up already! Now is the time, during these dark days of winter, to create a plan for how to get most out of our gardens. Play around with different techniques, such as:
Intensive planting: Take full advantage of your limited space by squeezing deep-rooted vegetables next to shallow. Also consider shade preferences and height: try extending lettuce’s growing season by planting it in the shady spots between between rows of okra.
Companion planting – You’re hosting a party in your garden bed! Consider who likes growing next to who (Tomato, meet Basil. Basil, may I introduce your new best friend, Tomato?).
With all this experimenting, keeping a garden notebook is worth its weight in black gold (that’s compost for you gardening newbies). Track what you put in when, pests and/or diseases you’re seeing, and create to-do lists. This information will be invaluable in creating next year’s plan.
2. Keep in touch.