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CHARACTERISTIC – The New Year is filled with resolutions that usually involve diet and exercise. Gardening is a great way to help achieve both of these resolutions, while also improving your mood, lowering blood pressure, maintaining flexibility, burning calories, and more.
Decide to grow your own vegetables and eat healthier in the New Year. Involve your family and friends in planning for ways to include gardening in your life.
Explore ways to incorporate vegetables and herbs into your landscape. Home gardens are not the only option. Placing vegetables in flower beds, mixed borders, and container gardens can expand your planting space. Look for compact, colorful new vegetable varieties that fit well in small spaces, planters, and ornamental gardens.
Take an inventory of all the remaining seeds and make a list of those seeds and any plants you need to purchase. The earlier you order, the more likely you are to get the items on your list.
Don’t wait to start your year of healthy gardening and eating habits. Start by growing up microgreens in January. They are quick, easy and do not require any special equipment. What’s more, recent research has found that many contain up to 25 times more nutrients than the leaves of the adult plant.
Organize a seed exchange with your family and friends in the winter. This is a great way to increase your plant’s budget and experiment with new seeds. Turn old seeds that are no longer viable into works of art with sheets of paper or small pieces of wood, glue and a little creativity.
Start the seeds of vegetables, herbs and flowers indoors in late winter until mid-spring. Check the seed packet for timing and planting directions. Create a seed start chart or mark planting dates on your calendar to ensure seeds are planted at the recommended time.
Watch the weather and follow the recommended planting dates to sow the seeds directly in the garden and move the seedlings outside. Use homemade or DIY bells, floating blankets, and cold frames to start the season. These capture the heat near the plants for an earlier start in the garden. They can also be used to extend the end of the growing season.
Start removing weeds as soon as they appear throughout the season. These unwanted plants compete with desirable plants for water and nutrients, and many are host to disease and pests. Pulling out weeds is also a great way to reduce stress while improving the health and beauty of your flower beds.
Harvest flowers to enjoy in bouquets and summer arrangements. Pick a few extras to share with your friends. Research has found immediate and lasting benefits generated by the gift of fresh flowers.
Pick vegetables regularly when they are at their peak for maximum productivity, flavor and nutritional value. Share additional products with your family, friends and food insecure people – many of whom are children – in your community. Contact your local food bank, pantry, or Feeding America to donate garden fresh produce.
End your efforts with a garden party. Invite other gardeners to bring a sharing dish that incorporates vegetables from the backyard. Share recipes, success stories in the garden, and start planning for the season ahead.
For the recommended timeline for completing these and other gardening projects, check out my monthly gardening checklists.
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