February 9, 2023
The new year brings programs that promise the new and improved you. These sensational claims are seen everywhere; the gym, the bus stop and store fronts. They boast incredible results like guaranteed weight loss of 100 lbs. And we can’t forget the facials that will freshen the person you are right now.
It seems that for gardeners fewer promises are offered. While you might not become a whole new gardener, it really is a good time to think about improvements, realistic improvements. And thankfully that can happen without signing a contract you might soon come to regret. Improvement for gardeners can start today!
Where to start? Well of course it’s a personal thing that will be a bit different for each gardener but here a few suggestions.
First It all starts with being there—in the garden. Plan to make your garden time a part of as many days as possible. And make the time count. When you are in the garden really be there.
Remember the old saying: “The best fertilizer for the garden is found in the footsteps of the gardener.”
Use a little time to observe closely. See what is there. Look for insects and other creatures that have a home because of your garden. Amazing! Appreciate what is happening now. Yes, for sure we have to plant and weed and clean but also just enjoy what is. It is so easy to forget this in the need to make the next moment better. The best plans and actions will just follow when we carefully observe.
So lets plan to enjoy the garden more by being in it and carefully observing.
Yet another old saying comes to mind “ Reduce Reuse Recycle.’
Thinking before buying is so important. First think if you can divide current plants and use what you already have.
Try a new propagation technique. Cuttings don’t always work but amazingly they often do. Instructions are just a ‘click away.’ You can often share with a friend, and in return they share back. You not only have a new plant but a happy memory.
Containers look trendy with small divisions of grasses paired with ground covers. You might even consider a sedum that creeps over the sides.
Naturally we all want to buy just something to support local plant sales Do be sure you have a place for the plant. No doubt you have seen pots filled with very dead plants by the curb waiting for the landfill. Poor things never even got planted. Never do that!
Think carefully, as well, before buying products. Obviously no toxic chemicals and remember peat is completely non sustainable. Try coir based product. Speak up at the shop and ask nicely for what you want and explain why. It can make a difference. Let’s try to be more aware, to spend as much time in the garden as we can and try to be responsible with resources.
What is the next step ?
Sharing of course! We know every garden can make a difference in supporting people and creatures—so why don’t more people have one? Well, that is a question we can’t really answer but we can try to inspire and even assist those that do show an interest. Take time to show neighbors around your garden and answer questions. If you “plant the seed” maybe it will grow and they will start a garden and then maybe they will share. And well maybe you yourself will have started something really valuable.
Its all too easy to get discouraged with the situations around us but in practical terms gardeners can make a difference; first for themselves then the little patch of the world we care for and then others.
So, let’s start by making just a few improvements in ourselves and we will make it the best gardening year ever.
Susan Thornbury, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2008
Pictures by Starla Willis, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2011