For most of us, our 2016 gardens are at this point absolute perfection. Since our gardens exist mainly in our minds' eye, chance frosts haven't yet blackened our young seedlings, or our nearly mature crops. The insect pests, like our gardens, are in stasis, whether as eggs, larvae or pupae—quiescently awaiting the moment where their potential is actualized. Hail hasn't flattened nor rains flooded out our perfect, potential gardens. All our rows are straight (or our raised beds level), no planting windows have passed us by while we were otherwise engaged.
Yes, for the moment our gardens are perfect, because nothing has yet gone awry. But the minute we begin to take action, error creeps in. Challenges are unavoidable. Mistakes happen to all gardeners, even to your Great Aunt Mabel who first inspired you to garden, and that annoying neighbor down the street with the picture-perfect front yard.
The new year brings a new beginning, a fresh chance to help our gardens to be all we want them to be. Now, right now, is the perfect time to address last year's gardening problems, and resolve to avoid a repeat in 2016. Here are a few key areas to consider—ask yourself whether any of these applies in your own garden. If the answer is yes, make time to give the matter some consideration, whether there might be room for improvement:
Planning: Did you follow a workable plan in 2015? Are you aware of your garden's last- and first frost dates? Did your actual planting dates coincide with the proper season? Timing is crucial; too early planting can be just as detrimental as too late. We offer an inexpensive tool to help you get your ducks in a row: Clyde's Garden Planner.
Check out Clyde's Garden Planner HERE
Soil improvement: Your plants can only do their best in soil that suits and supports them. Chemical fertilizers may grow good-looking crops but rich, living organic soil gives you better-tasting, more nutrient-dense produce. Work-in appropriate amendments to pay your soil back for the crop it gave you last season. Compost, worm-castings or manure are all great organic foods for the soil. And consider cover cropping—a crop grown on-site, specifically to replenish nutrients removed in previous seasons. We offer a number of excellent cover crop varieties, suitable for spring, summer or autumn sowing in all areas of the country.
Check our Grains and Cover Crops HERE
Try something new: If a crop gave you fits last year, despite your best efforts, maybe the problem lay in trying to grow a variety unsuited to your region. Heirlooms are far from one-size-fits-all—that's why we offer about 1800 heirloom varieties. Review your variety selections. Did they originate, or are they grown in, climatic conditions similar to your own? Don't expect a variety from the humid South Pacific to thrive in Montana, or a variety from Finland to endure a Gulf Coast summer. In both cases, success is unlikely, although there are plenty of exceptions.
And if something isn't clear to you, feel free to email our horticultural staff for recommendations.
Check out our New 2016 Items HERE
Continue your gardening education: One of the great satisfactions of horticulture is that there's no end to what you can learn. Identify last year's gardening shortcomings and try to learn more, in order to get past them. We offer lots of great books, chock-full of gardening wisdom, no matter your level of expertise or skill. Don't cling to the status quo—learn something new!
Check out our Gardening Books HERE
Will our best efforts lead us to that perfect garden, shimmering like a mirage in the distant perspective of our imagination? Probably not. But let's hear it for the new season's perfect garden all the same. May it inspire every gardener to strive for excellence in 2016. We're here to help with that. And we wish you the best gardening season ever!