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posted: 12/31/2017 6:00 AM

Make New Year's resolutions for the garden

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  • Adding more native perennials is one of the author's gardening resolutions.

    Adding more native perennials is one of the author's gardening resolutions.
    Photos Courtesy of Diana Stoll

  • The author will need more shelves to keep her resolution to grow more plants from seed.

    The author will need more shelves to keep her resolution to grow more plants from seed.

 
By Diana Stoll

It is that time of year again -- that time when we reflect on the past and decide what we want to improve, start doing or stop doing in the upcoming year. I am not one to make ordinary resolutions, such as get more exercise, get more sleep or save more money, but I do make resolutions for the garden.

Here are my gardening resolutions for 2018:

Start more plants from seed

Watching a plant grow from a seed is one of nature's miracles that never ceases to amaze and delight me. In 2018, I want to grow more plants from seeds -- more vegetables, more annuals and more perennials -- for a couple of reasons in addition to satisfying my green thumbs.

First, growing from seed offers a larger number of varieties. Next, it saves a lot of money. A package of seeds is only a couple of dollars compared to several dollars for just one annual or vegetable plant.

Add more native plants to my garden

Including more native plants in the garden improves the soil and reduces the amount of water a garden needs. The extensive root systems of native plants grow very deep into the soil, giving rainwater a place to filter in instead of running off.

Birds, butterflies, bees and other pollinators are attracted to the nectar, pollen and seed heads of native plants. Beneficial insects often spend the winter as eggs, pupae or caterpillars on or near them, and native plants thrive in the garden without pesticides.

Plant a rain garden

In 2018, I want to reduce the rainwater that runs off my property and find a solution for a low spot at the entrance to my backyard. A rain garden is the answer to both.

Rain gardens reduce water runoff by collecting it where it can soak in while the deep roots of the plants growing there absorb pollutants and help prevent soil erosion. Tying in with my second resolution, native plants are perfectly suited for rain gardens. Rain gardens are also popular hangouts for birds, butterflies and bees.

Preserve something I grow

This may be the most difficult resolution for me to keep. People who know me may even laugh at this one because the kitchen is not my favorite room in the house. In 2018, I want to feel the sense of accomplishment others experience when they freeze or can or dry their homegrown fruit or vegetables.

Fresh frozen strawberries, raspberries and blueberries sound delicious. Maybe I can even manage some jam to spread on toast in the winter. Sweet corn and peas sound yummy, too.

Mark the locations where bulbs should be planted in fall

This is so simple, but I never get around to it and always regret it as my shovel slices through an already-planted bulb when planting new ones. Small wooden stakes identifying the type of bulb are unobtrusive and will guide my fall planting of bulbs in 2018.

Sit in the garden and enjoy it

This may be even harder than the resolution involving the kitchen. We gardeners know how good the garden is for us -- physically, mentally and spiritually. We know how it connects us with nature and teaches us something new each time we visit.

I think most of us gardeners have trouble sitting still in our gardens. We see a weed that needs pulling, a tomato that needs harvesting or a spent flower that needs deadheading. In all those acts of gardening, however, we may be missing the best part of our gardens. Let's all try to spend more time just sitting still in our gardens in 2018.

• Diana Stoll is a horticulturist, garden writer and the garden center manager at The Planter's Palette in Winfield. She blogs at gardenwithdiana.com.