This time of year is about looking back. There are many lessons to be learned from last year’s successes and failures. Hopefully many of us will set goals to improve our environment – whether it is life style changes, home improvements or improvements to the garden.
The devoted gardener recognizes the lessons of failure and tries not to repeat the sometimes costly and always disappointing mistakes. With that said, here are a handful of resolutions you can try to focus on when you head back out into the garden for another year of wonder and enjoyment.
Start with a good foundation – improve your soil.
Mulching protects the soil and organisms in it, traps moisture, as well as builds new layers full of nutrients rather than allowing the old ones to wash away. In a forest, organic debris just piles and piles atop the soil surface, both protecting it and enriching it. In a garden, this can be replicated by simply dropping the weeds we pull up, adding the raked-up leaves, spreading straw or hay or grass cuttings, using waste bark or wood shavings, and only taking away the things we plan to use or eat. Help the eco-system thrive by allowing it to function as it is.
It may look a bit untidy in the suburban garden, but do these things and a garden will behave more like an ecosystem, supporting itself and working cyclically rather than constantly requiring human interference as those tilled and rowed creations do. This makes for richer soil, and that makes for a full bounty of optimal growth. Remember healthy soil is the holy grail, and any healthy, happy plant can tell you that. Just like we can’t survive on one food alone, neither can the soil.
Garden maintenance is sometimes not easy, but it can be less arduous if your garden tools are properly cared for. Remember this year to routinely sharpen your pruners, either with a sharpening stone or professionally, so that your pruners won’t be harbouring pathogens and spreading it to the next cut.
Clogged gutters can make water fail to divert away from your foundation and can pour onto plants, creating run off and erosion. Put a note on your calendar to clean gutters before a rainy spell is predicted
Change your garden theme.
Let’s face it, one gets bored with the same look year after year. Take stock of your foundation planting and visualise how you can incorporate it in a Mediterranean, Waterwise or Meadow theme. Think about creating a heaven for insects and other wildlife, think about sustainability, think about climate change and above all think about your age and how you can cope with your new creation in years to come!
Consider your plant choice carefully. Plants are meant to mingle. Some root systems tap deep and pull up nutrients from below, some root systems spread horizontally and keep topsoil in place and other root systems, like those of legumes, deposit fertility building nodes in the soil. Above the surface, certain plants repel insects, some plants provide nectar and pollen to insects, some provide lots of organic matter to feed the other plants, and of course, there are plants that give us flowers, fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, medicine and much more.
Sharing your bounty.
Whatever you are growing, fruit, veg or flowers, share the extra with neighbours and friends. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the delight on the recipient’s face when you give them produce from your garden.
Make 2020 a year of pure garden enjoyment!