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Posted on Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 6 a.m.

Top 10 gardening goals for 2013

By Jim and Janice Leach


Janice Leach | Contributor

In this gardening off-season, planning and dreaming are some of the most productive work that gardeners can do. Resolutions is such a serious word, full of weight and responsibility. Goals seems a more appropriate word for garden dreams. Here, in no particular order, are my top 10 goals for 2013.

1. Plant something new in the garden. This is a perennial garden goal, and one of the best things about being a gardener. I’m always discovering or reading about new plants or varieties that I want to try. Every garden season brings new opportunities to experiment and learn.

2. Stop and smell the roses. And also take better care of them. I’d been a lazy, lucky rose gardener up until the summer of 2012, when one of our sweet rose bushes fried up from too much sun and not enough water. In retrospect, I should have been paying more attention and giving all the roses both more TLC and water. This season, I will do better.

3. Learn more about fertilizer. As organic gardeners, we’ve tended to skip over fertilizers altogether. Fertilizers just haven’t been our thing. I’m learning that some plants, like roses (see #2 above), should get fertilized. Fertilizers used incorrectly in the wrong amounts or at the wrong times are wasteful or dangerous, so I plan to learn more about how to use them properly, according to the best practices.

4. Study bees. Might a beehive be in our future? Possibly. Meanwhile, I need to learn more about them. There are plenty of books, but I’ve also found apiarists to be among the most generous teachers. I need to hang out more with them, and there are plenty of local opportunities to do so.

5. Attract more butterflies. Butterflies are beautiful creatures as well as effective pollinators. We have coneflower, Joe Pye weed, and sunflowers, which are reputed to attract butterflies, but we could do some research and add more plants that are especially appealing to butterflies.

6. Make even better use of the herbs. I’m always pleased with whatever I manage to dry and otherwise preserve, and I enjoy using them so much. There’s always room for improvement however in making the most of the herbal harvest.

7. Take more pictures along the way. We do take a lot of pictures; it seems like I take them all the time. Yet when I’m flipping through my files looking for a particular picture, it’s often not there. I’d like to get in the habit of taking some pictures every week at least, so I can compare the growth of the plants and keep better records throughout the season.

8. Stake up everything. This goal appears on all of my gardening lists. The sturdy little seedlings of spring invariably grow long and lean, and the rough winds of a Michigan May do shake them. I have to remind myself to give my plants a fighting chance to keep growing the entire season.

9. Plant a second season crop. In the past, I’ve been semi-successful with planting a second crop of lettuces in the past. Last year, I tried planting a second crop of peas, but I didn’t get them in as early as I should have; I aimed for August, but planted in September -- not early enough for the plants to produce peas. Again, there’s this year to do a better job.

10. Blog more regularly. Amid the daily busyness, including gardening, making time to write is always a challenge. It’s an activity that gives me a great deal of joy, however, and that I hope to improve upon in the year to come.

What are your gardening goals for 2013?

Jim and Janice Leach tend a backyard plot in downtown Ann Arbor, where they try to grow as many vegetables and other plants as possible. For the last five years, they've published gardening tips, photos and stories at their 20 Minute Garden website.



Sat, Jan 19, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

I want to replace my lawn grass with garden or a lawn alternative ... one that sustains the soil without a lot of help. "Native" doesn't matter much to me; just want a contributing ecology. I've been doing research but don't have a clear idea of what would work around here. Would love to know about people who are already doing it.

Sarah Rigg

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

My goals for 2013 include planting broccoli again since it was such a superstar this year, and to get a few heads of lettuce to eat before the local bunny or other critters get it. I'm considering growing them in pots this year so I can bring them inside if they start to get nibbled on.