GARDENING BY RONELLA: Don’t make resolutions - make plans
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Jan 08, 2014 | 61 61 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Most of us think of the New Year as the time to make resolutions, or, as I prefer to call them, plans. The plans we make are usually plans to make us better persons or plans to enrich our lives. I am no exception. My major plan this year and most every year in the past, it to finish some of the unfinished needlework, whether it is a quilt, or quilts, or maybe it is some knitting or crocheting or an unfinished book that I mean to write about my grandparents. When I was able to garden on a large scale, I always had plans on the back burner, so to speak, of enlarging my flowerbeds, of making a big rock garden or planting a small orchard.

Some projects were finished and some are still in a closet, nagging at me from time to time. One quilt has been finished except for the binding for a few years; so today I am cutting the binding in preparing to finally finish that quilt. Hopefully, I will finish it this spring.

One resolution I am going to keep is that I will not start a new project until I have thought about it for a while to determine if I will have the enthusiasm to finish it. My problem as I see it is that I have more fun buying materials and planning a new project than the actual work.

Gardening, however, is a whole other situation. I never tired of the planning or the work of carrying out the plan. I never ceased to get excited about any part of growing plants, either the hard work of digging and hoeing, watering, cleaning the beds or weeding. Therein lies the basic problem. I am a total gardener and I only desire to be enthusiastic about the needlework projects.

So if you want to be a better gardener, then now is the time to start planning. When the new seed catalogs come in the mail, keep them near you for reference. You may want to have more color in your beds or you may want to start new beds or enlarge the present ones. I love to peruse those wonderful flower magazines for ideas. You may not be able to copy someone else’s ideas exactly but you can make a start.

The following suggestions may give you a start on becoming the gardener you want to be.

First, on a warm winter day, when you are itching to get out and dig in the dirt, consider digging up your garden. Either make a new flower bed, dig up the annual bed or dig up around your perennials. You want to dig up the depth of your sharp shovel. The reasons for that are that the ground will freeze and that will make the ground softer and the insect eggs and the weed seeds that are deep in the ground will freeze. If you wait till spring, the weed seeds will sprout and the insect eggs will come to life. Another good reason is that aeration will take place, which does the same thing as using a fork to stick holes all around your beds.

When there is a sudden warm spell, now is the time to plat a holly tree. There are many varieties so talk to your nurseryman to decide which you want. If you want one with dark green leaves all winter and red berries, he can tell you which tree to buy. Be sure to find out how big it will grow and then plan to plant it where you and your family will enjoy looking at it.

If you have wanted to start container gardening, now is the time to start gathering all the materials you will need. Number one is some good garden soil. If you have some compost, it is good to mix the compost with some good garden soil and a handful of sand. Most garden centers are anxious to clean out their inventory of that soil and some will be glad to sell large clay pots at a bargain. You will never know till you ask. They will often have bags of mulch with holes in them that they want to sell. Just rebag it before trying to move it. Container gardening is a good way to have lots of flowers and greenery on a deck or in an area that has poor, rocky soil. I have a gardening friend who had an area around a tree, which just would not grow anything, so she made a container garden there and solved the problem. She sent me a picture of it and it was lovely.

If you forgot to fertilize your lawn in the fall, you can fertilize lightly at the end of January. Use the usual high-nitrogen and stand back and watch the grass grow.

If you have buddleas, or butterfly bushes, prune them this month to about 6 inches. All flowers on butterfly bushes bloom on new growth this spring and summer so you won’t be cutting any branches that would have flowered. Cutting these buddleas back will not harm them. If you lose one, it is because Kentucky is a little bit too far North to have them thrive over a long period. Even if it is a Southern plant, I think it is worth the gamble of losing one every now and then.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with questions or suggestions. Thank you for the lovely Christmas cards.
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