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Resolution from the garden

01/01/04 12:00AM By Henry Homeyer
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(Host) Commentator Henry Homeyer has a list of New Year's resolutions - from a gardener's perspective.


(Homeyer) Each year, for the past 50 years or so, I've always made a few New Years resolutions. I like the idea of pausing to reflect on my life and trying to see what I might do better. As a boy, resolutions were simple: I'd try to get along better with my sister, or to walk the dog more often.

Now I always include some resolutions about, gardening. This year I e-mailed some friends for their gardening resolutions, and received some very thoughtful responses.

Many gardeners vowed to be less ambitious in the garden. One seventy-year old gardener wrote that she wanted to make her gardens more appropriate for her age. Another admitted that her back hurt much of the summer from doing too much, and promised to be more sensible. A third vowed to raise just a few vegetables, not enough to feed the entire State of Vermont.

These resolutions made sense to me. I resolve to be more moderate. We preserve a lot of food each year, and give some away, but I really don't need 10 hills of vine crops. Our freezer has plenty of squash, so I'll decrease my plantings of those. And we'll still have plenty of pickles left from last summer, so I'll only grow cucumbers for salads.

Another friend said she'd try to focus her energies better in the garden. She said she tended to jump from one activity to another. I know just what she means. I'll be pushing a wheelbarrow towards the compost pile and notice that I never cut back last year's blackberry canes, and I'll get to work on that. Or I'll see a perennial that needs to be divided, and go get a spade. And so on. Sometimes I feel like a bumble bee buzzing from one part of the garden to another. This year I'll try to finish one project before starting the next.

I also resolve to keep better records. If I add kelp meal to one half of the garlic bed and not to the other, or granite dust to some of my peppers, I need not only to label and record precisely what I did, but also to weigh, count or measure the production. That's the hard part. I intuitively know what works, but this year I'll try to be a bit more scientific.

But the resolutions I liked best were from those who vowed to slow down and take time to really look at their gardens. It's so easy to be planting and weeding and mulching and trimming that one misses the point. Gardening is not a contest, but a way for each of us to relax, to be in touch with nature, to grow things and to appreciate the beauty of the outdoors.

Wishing you all a productive and relaxing gardening year, this is the gardening guy, Henry Homeyer in Cornish Flat, N.H.

Henry Homeyer is a gardening writer and columnist.

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