Saturday, March 10, 2007

The New Season

The New Season—it’s spread out in front of us like a clean slate. On January 1, we are given the opportunity to start a fresh new year. That’s where New Year’s Resolutions come in. Often, the very phrase "resolutions" strikes fear in our hearts—like it’s time to march out our shortcomings and make a list of amends for them. But, resolutions shouldn’t be about guilt and denial. They should be fun, uplifting, and invigorating, and now is the time to prepare, for the new growing season! This year, give yourself a break! Make resolutions that are fun to keep and that will benefit you as a gardener! Get a jump on the gardening season. This year, start seeds early and raise your own seedlings (as well as raising your expectations of your garden!) With a few simple supplies (germinating mix, flats, seeds, and a few other seed starting accessories), you can raise a whole garden. Watching those seedlings emerge through the soil is an uplifting way to spend a cloudy February afternoon. To learn more about this easy way to grow plants for your garden, read our feature Sow, sow, sow your seeds. Try something new. Plant a new variety or species in your garden, expand your garden area, add window boxes to your house or containers to your patio, raise herbs with your perennials, or get your feet wet with a water garden. Expand your gardening horizons and you’ll learn a lot more about different types of gardening. Share your harvest. Gardening is about bounty, and bounty is about sharing. That’s why the Garden Writers Association of America (GWAA) started "Plant a Row for the Hungry" in 1995. This program encourages gardeners to plant extra space in their gardens to raise extra fruits and vegetables for donation to local shelters or food banks. To learn how to participate in this program, read our update page on the Plant a Row for the Hungry program. Eat more vegetables! It’s a great way to stay healthy! The USDA recommends you eat 3 to 5 servings a day. So plant a lot of what makes our bodies work best: broccoli (high in calcium), spinach (high in folic acid and iron—Popeye was right!), and squash (high in vitamin A). To see a list of what vegetables are best for your body, review our Great Health List. Besides being good for you, fresh vegetables taste so much better out of the garden! Simplify, simplify. Henry David Thoreau’s call to action is something we should all heed. Make your life more simple, and that includes gardening. Weed less by mulching more, plant drought tolerant varieties that will flourish in your environment, or delegate areas of your garden to perennials, those reliable return visitors. Automate. Cut down on water chores in your garden by installing a drip irrigation system. Not only are drip systems the best way to water your garden, they are also the most economical because less moisture is lost to evaporation. There are drip systems for large and small gardens, as well as for containers. To read more about drip irrigation, read our feature Drip irrigation. Plant more flowers. Can you ever have enough? They brighten your yard and lift up your spirits. Plant an extra bed just for cutting so you can enjoy fresh flowers indoors all summer. Bouquets make wonderful visiting gifts, too. And, for color you can enjoy all year, sow some everlastings, such as globe amaranth, baby’s breath and yarrow. Start composting. Composting is a fully satisfying activity. You recycle kitchen scraps, garden debris, and grass clippings, and in several months, your composter has created a rich, nutrient-filled amendment for your garden. Gardeners call it "black gold." Composting is easy. To review the wide range of products to get you started, check out the supplies in the Composting Department. Pass along your gardening knowledge. Share your love of gardening with a friend or child. Take the mystery out of growing gorgerous flowers or fresh vegetables by helping someone you know get started in gardening. Enjoy your garden! If you make only ONE gardening resolution for the New Year, make it this one. Pick more flowers, cook from the garden, have a garden party, invite friends over for dinner alfresco. Use your garden as the outdoor room that it is, and make sure to sit back and smell the roses. Gardening is a hobby that nourishes your body and comforts your soul. Take time to benefit from all your garden has to offer.

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