When making your list of New Year’s resolutions, don’t forget your plants and garden. While it looks grim outside at the moment, by planning and perseverance, you can enjoy healthy and beautiful plants all year long.
Use this opportunity to make the most of your outdoor space, whether you want to create a low maintenance garden or a tranquil and serene arcadia. The work you put in now will be rewarded come spring time – and will cut down the amount of time you have to spend on your hands and knees weeding.
In the New Year, I resolve to:
- Mulch my perennials after the ground freezes to help them overwinter comfortably even though temperatures may fluctuate.
- Spread a circle of mulch around young trees to keep lawn mowers from damaging the bark, leading to canker diseases later on.
- Use only a few inches depth of mulch and keep it a few inches away from trunks and stems of plants to discourage crown rot.
- Set plants in the ground only at the proper depth – deep planting harms roots and kills plants.
- Irrigate new trees and shrubs the first two years especially during dry weather to help them establish good root systems.
- Use a soaker hose or some type of irrigation system for the flower beds and vegetable garden that won’t wet the foliage and encourage leaf spots.
- Inspect plants carefully before purchasing to find evidence of invaders such as spider mites, scale insects or mealybugs, or root swellings that might mean crown gall disease on plants such as flowering cherries or roses.
- Prune only in dry weather, especially when pruning plants prone to fire blight, such as pears, crab apples and hawthorns.
- Scout regularly for symptoms in the garden, so that I can pick off the occasional spotted leaf before problems escalate.
- Encourage beneficial insects and mites by minimising use of broad-spectrum insecticides.
- Obtain a diagnosis when the cause of a problem is unclear or needs identification.
- Use only the well-drained areas of my garden for plants – unless I purchase some swamp-loving species.
- Test a soil sample to learn what my lime and fertiliser needs are, rather than guessing.
- When studying plant catalogues, look for pest- and disease-resistant plants, such as mildew-resistant phlox, Fusarium-resistant tomatoes and disease-resistant crab apples that will make my gardening job easier and keep my plants healthier.
- Join a gardening class to learn more about the fun of growing and maintaining plants.
Happy New Year and happy gardening!Last modified: December 23, 2020