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The Homeowners Column
Garden Resolutions for 2017
January 5, 2017
State Master Gardener Coordinator
It's January. My thoughts wander to a new garden season. Spring seems so far away. Maybe I should buy a chia pet. Or maybe I should water my poppy seed bagel to see if the seeds will germinate. As much as I tire of the winter wait to see something grow, I love gardening in Illinois. Every spring is a required "do over." As you fashion your resolutions for 2017 consider changes you can make to your gardening practices.
Here are a few of my garden resolutions for 2017.
Grow more fruits and vegetables. Repeatedly we hear about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables to promote good health. Gardening provides fresh local fruits and vegetables and the encouragement to eat them. In addition, when we grow our own food we control what pesticides or fertilizers are used. A mother once commented to me that her son would never eat peas on his dinner plate, but he would eat them right out of the garden. A strawberry picked from our gardens tastes sweeter.
Eat more of the above-mentioned vegetables rather than letting them rot in the garden and then tossing the carcasses in the compost pile. Once we are blessed with a bushel basket of tomatoes, we discover a newfound interest in recipes requiring tomatoes.
Share vegetables with family, friends and food banks. Check with local food banks and food pantries as to what vegetables they accept. For family and friends, just place produce on the doorstep and run.
Plant all the new plants before buying more. Ok, I can't even pretend I will follow through on this one.
Respect garden soil by feeding it with compost and not digging when it's too wet.
Check the stash of garden seeds before buying more. Most seeds will still germinate after several years of storage. When in doubt, just plant extras. Ok I probably won't follow through on this one either. I love shopping for seeds.
Grow and use more herbs. Fresh herbs are a bonus from the garden. Herbs enhance the flavor of foods thereby reducing the use of salt and sugar. Most herbs are very easy to grow.
Sit in the garden and relax. Ok this is also a tough one for me. Gardening connects us with nature and the rhythm of life. Gardening requires us to live in garden time. We all could use a lesson in slowing down. Studies have revealed just viewing a garden or nature has healthy psychological benefits.
Connect with people. It's like walking down the street with a new puppy: everybody talks to a gardener. It's also a great activity to do with kids. Give them a section of the garden all their own. Some of the best lessons can be learned in the garden such as delayed gratification and don't leave a rake on the ground with the head pointing upwards.
Protect our body by using proper movements. We know gardening provides the regular physical exercise listed in the prevention of heart disease, obesity, adult-onset diabetes and high blood pressure. It also provides the strength training important in the prevention of osteoporosis. With any physical activity, it's best to learn proper techniques. Check out my article on Gardening with Arthritis http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/homeowners/040320.html
Start planning now. Gardening requires us to use our head and our creativity. The time spent planning the garden and researching different plants is a great brain workout.
Flex our creativity muscles. Let our personalities shine through in our gardens. Every loved garden is a perfect garden.
Have fun gardening. Relax and remember your garden doesn't have to be picture perfect. Resolve to have a garden this year. Whether it's a window box or an acre garden, you will be healthier for it.