Resolutions for a generous and green new year in the garden
Something miraculous happens to gardeners at this time of year. I don’t know what triggers it. Perhaps it was the sight of Christmas trees and lights, or the presence of all those poinsettias. Whatever the cause, by January, gardeners have let go of last year’s gardens and start to dream about this year’s effort.
Just a short while ago, we were doing all manner of fall gardening and yard care. At the end of the season, gardening can seem more like a chore than an enjoyable hobby. We harvest vegetables, fret about mowing the lawn, deal with leaves, clean perennial beds and have to plant garlic before the frost.
Now, however, the memory slate has been cleaned. Somehow we’ve forgotten all the hard work last year’s gardens entailed. Refreshed, we find ourselves spending an afternoon browsing the internet looking for this year’s seeds or thumbing through an actual, hard-copy, seed catalog planning this year’s gardens.
Last year’s blisters, failures and misfortunes have been replaced by enthusiasm, and an optimism we may have lost as last year’s efforts dragged on.
So, here at another beginning, why not set a high bar for yourself as you start gardening again?
Here are a handful of 2022 resolutions that acknowledge some new approaches to our hobby:
For one thing, this is the year for gardeners to fully recognize our role in dealing with global warming. Those two-cycle, gasoline engines used in our yards, for example, are no longer environmentally acceptable and need to be phased out of home gardening. This season, accelerate replacement of your old mowers, blowers and weed eaters with manual, battery or corded versions. Even just skipping a session, mowing just once a month, will make a huge difference.
Next, gardeners are well known for sharing. Make some of your plantings for the greater good. For example, we gardeners have the ability to help increase pollinator, butterfly and bird populations, which have been in serious decline. All it takes is planting a few things that support them. There are enough of us that, combined, such efforts will make a huge difference.
And with over 85 million of us gardening, planting a row of food to donate to the hungry will have an impact on millions of people without food security. There is always a food bank, place of worship or neighbor that needs food and will appreciate fresh produce offered by gardeners. Plant a row for the hungry.
Also, the savvy gardener can use some trending plants to meet worthy goals. The “less lawn” movement, for example, in which gardeners’ try to reduce the size of their lawns, has struggled because wildflowers and meadow mixes sometimes don’t work well. To the rescue come all those tall, clumping grasses that are trendy because professional landscapers are using them around parking lots and new buildings. They are easy to maintain, and breeders have improved the selection for homeowners. Use these tall grasses to reduce the size of your lawn.
Finally, as a result of the pandemic, gardeners everywhere are learning the benefits of turning part of their yards into better social gathering areas. Last year, this trend was referred to as extending the front porch into the front yard. This year, go farther.
What about installing an awning or more permanent cover to shield you from rain? Spiff up the area around the fire pit and barbecue so you can use them in the winter, too. There are now waterproof TV screens (if you must). And make sure your internet connection outdoors is good enough so you can listen to your favorite gardening podcast.
You can forget about last year’s gardens. You should be refreshed and ready to go. This year’s gardening season has begun.
Jeff Lowenfels writes regularly about gardening. His books include “Teaming With Microbes,” “Teaming With Fungi” and “Teaming With Nutrients.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.