I’m a few days late with my New Year’s resolutions for the 2013 garden.

Yes, I know, today is Thanksgiving Day. And, no, I haven’t gotten my holidays confused. We’re still about six weeks away from the first day of 2013 on the calendar, but, here in my garden, we’re five days into the new year.

I celebrated the Gardening New Year on November 18 this year.

The Gardening New Year is a mobile holiday. It jumps around a bit from year to year, like the holidays on the Jewish calendar. But, unlike Passover or Rosh Hashanah, this particular holiday isn’t set by the moon. It’s set by me. You see, I celebrate the Gardening New Year on the day I plant my garlic.

And, on Sunday, November 18, 2012, I planted 50 cloves of ‘Music’ hardneck garlic in the Outlaw Garden.

fifty cloves of 'Music' hardneck garlic

Happy Gardening New Year!

So, like I said, I’m a few days late with my resolutions. Oops.

I did alright with the 2012 list.

I did harvest my very first home-grown artichokeyum! — and planted two antique apples along the side of the garage. I’ll begin training them to espalier next year.

Some stuff I only half-finished. Those euonymus shrubs, for example. The big, gigantic, huge one is still there, because Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal selected that shrub for their home this summer. I let them have it, and will cut it down some sunny day this winter, when there’s no risk of baby birds sheltering in its branches. I also half-way installed rain barrels, using old trash cans and a big hand-me-down water barrel. None of these are permanent solutions, so… Finally, while the freezer is PACKED with basil, I didn’t succeed so grandly with the parsley. Ah well.

The rest just didn’t happen. Hey. Don’t judge. Isn’t it tradition to leave a few unfinished items on the resolution list?

The biggest item, though. That I did. I flaunted the garden. There was that article in Organic Gardening, with photos of me, my garden and my house. There were all the folks I chatted with as they walked their dogs or chased their children past my front yard. There were the neighbors and friends I sent home with fresh-picked goodies, and the tomatoes I sold to Iron Bridge Restaurant in Warrenton, Virginia. And, of course, there was the garden.

2012 wasn’t my best gardening season — drought and heat and nitrogen-hogging wood chips conspired to challenge me  — but it was still a great year. 2013 will be even better. Here’s what I’m thinking, er, resolving:

  1. Start the garden earlier. Plant colorful greens and beets and cabbages for some early-season color and harvests.
  2. Continue the garden later. Plant some of those same springtime crops, as well as broccoli and brussel sprouts and leeks and kale for cold season harvests, color and structure.
  3. Keep a garden journal. Yes. I often begin a gardening year with big goals about tracking seed-starting, planting and harvesting dates, recording production notes and jotting down stories about the first hummingbird or the last tomato. I’m gonna actually do it this year. Yep.
  4. Defeat the catbirds. I’m already moving the strawberries to a more easily defended location, and I have plans for building netted defenses around the blueberries too. I’ll still let the birds have some of the harvest, sure. But, I want my fair share.
  5. Work from a garden plan. I’ve always been a planner, and delighted in spending many long, dark winter evenings planning the layout for the coming season’s garden. But, that was all before this free-form, meandering, no-right-angles-allowed garden. That loosey-goosey shape makes it a bit more challenging to sketch out a garden plan. But, I’m gonna do it, starting with a hopefully-to-scale sketch of the garden layout.
  6. Put in the side garden. There’s this tiny patch of land beside my garage that would be perfect for a couple of raised beds. I’ve already planted my two apples up against the garage, and just finished putting in a brick path the runs the length of the garage, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. I’ve got more euonymus shrubs to pull out. My two-year-old pile of branches needs to be relocated. And — biggest task of all — there’s a big maple tree that needs to be cut down. I’m sad to see that tree go, but it’s growing much too close to the house, and in a manner that practically ensures it’ll come smashing down into my kitchen some day soon. Once ALL of that is done, there are still the raised beds to be built, leveled and filled with soil and compost. This is an ambitious goal.
  7. Transform a few old windows into cold frames. This is recycled from last year’s list of resolutions, and remains a good idea.
  8. Install rain barrels. This past summer, I used old trash cans to collect rainwater from my gutters. They worked. To an extent. They also leaked, overflowed and provided a delightful home for too many generations of mosquitoes. Next year, I’m gonna do better.
  9. Build a narrow trellis and arbor along the front of the house. Another 2012 resolution that’s getting bumped to 2013.
  10. Grow, harvest and eat my own sweet corn. There’s no finding organic sweet corn around here. And, I’m stubborn. I want organic sweet corn. So, the solution is to grow my own.

That’s ten items. Ten resolutions for a better 2013 gardening season. There are — of course — more things that I want out of next spring, summer and fall. I want to try my hand at growing pie pumpkins so I can make a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie from my own harvest. I want to plant another patch of asparagus, and maybe relocate the existing patch (it’s overtaking the small corner I’d given it). I want to add some more fruits to the garden — a peach tree or two, more blueberries, maybe some raspberries. I have plans to plant some more perennial vegetables as well. Rhubarb. Sunchoke. Horseradish. That sort of thing. Also, more experimenting. Last year, I discovered how delicious kale blossoms can be. Next year, based on recommendations from many of you, I’m going to try sweet potato leaves.

And, getting back to that garlic I planted a few days ago, I want to grow a garlic crop that keeps me comfortably in garlic all winter. Fifty cloves might not be enough. Or, it might be plenty. Time will tell. It always does.

And, yes, I’ve got goals for this blog too. Like posting more regularly. No more long periods of silence, like these past couple months (sorry about that, and thank you to those of you who asked when the next posts would be coming). More features, including downloadable e-books and project plans. Photos, recipes and stories. More of all those things. Got something you want me to add to that list of goals for the blog? Just click here to add a comment — and your request — in the comment section below.

How about you? What are your goals for next year’s garden? Are you already planning your spring harvests? Click here to add a comment below.

There you go. My ten resolutions for the Gardening New Year, shared with you on Thanksgiving Day. Maybe, on New Year’s Day, I’ll post a list of things I’m thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! And, happy Gardening New Year too!

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10 Rules for Breaking the Rules in Front Yard Vegetable Gardens


10 Rules for Breaking the Rules in Front Yard Vegetable Gardens

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