GARDENER’S CHECKLIST: December 30, 2021 –


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Resolve to: Dig in! Studies have shown that gardening benefits both mental and physical health.

With December 25, 2021, lingering as a pleasant memory, but soon to drift into the category of Christmas Past, it is time to set our thoughts on the New Year. One of the traditions of the New Year is to make resolutions, a practice which supposedly dates back to the ancient Babylonians, some 4,000 years ago. I’m not good at making resolutions for myself but I will make some for you. SO, LISTEN UP!
Resolve to:
Dig in and make an effort to spend more time gardening. Repeated studies have found that gardening provides substantial human health benefits, both mental and physical. These include reduced stress, anger, and anxiety, and enhanced physical conditioning. It most certainly has helped many people cope during these pandemic years.
Grow some of your own food. This doesn’t necessarily mean plowing up the south forty. Vegetables can be grown in a garden plot of any size, even very small plots. Using techniques such as wide-row and succession planting, growing high-yield vegetables, and employing season extension devices such as cold frames, a substantial amount of healthy food can be harvested. If there’s no room for an in-ground plot, vegetables may be grown in raised beds and containers.
Resolve to: Grow some of your own food. Limited space? Many vegetables can be easily grown in containers.
Employ organic gardening methods as much as possible. This includes using bio-rational pesticides which have minimal impact on human and environmental health, rotating crops in the vegetable garden, composting, and enriching soils with organic matter.
Create a pollinator garden consisting of native plants that are attractive to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Otherwise, incorporate into existing gardens some plants which are attractive to pollinators. A great resource for information on attracting and protecting pollinators can be found here in the Great Barrington Pollinator Action Plan. By the way, give thanks to Vivian Orlowski who initiated the local movement to protect and enhance the pollinator population.
Resolve to: Plant native species such as this anemone to attract and enhance the population of pollinators.
While mulling over these resolutions, attend to these tasks now:
Gather the family together and ask each member for their dining preference when it comes to vegetables. This will help when planning seed orders for the vegetable garden. There’s no sense in buying and growing vegetables that no one will eat. I’m a slow learner; it’s only taken me fifty plus years to come to that conclusion.
Apply deer repellents to vulnerable trees and shrubs.  Woodland food sources for deer are typically in short supply during the winter, so expect the local deer population to show up for dinner.  No need to prepare anything special for these hungry marauders, they’ll be fine dining on a salad of rhododendron, yew, and other tasty plants in your yard.  Some folks claim they get better results in deterring deer if they alternate types of repellent.   For example, make the first application using a repellent whose primary ingredient is fatty acids and then repeat when necessary with a repellent containing egg solids.
Spend some quality time with your gardening tools on cold wintry evenings.  Sharpen the edges of shears, mower blades, hoes, flat-edged spades, and edgers.  Use a steel brush to scrub dirt and rust from metal surfaces of spades, trowels, and shovels.

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