7 New Year Resolutions for Gardeners

Pole beans in summer garden

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Everyone makes New Year’s resolutions, right? Get in shape, eat better, get more sleep, reduce stress. All grand ideas, and ones I aspire to year after year. We all want to improve an aspect of our lives…what better time to start?

If you’re a gardener, there are likely a few more specific habits you want to form, or goals to meet! If you’re an experienced grower, chances are you know what you need to do. Listing goals and intentions helps to keep me on track. Or, if you’re just starting out, you’ll need some general guidelines to motivate you in the gardening season. Read on…

Here’s a list of New Year Gardening Resolutions for you!

1. Order early.

Don’t wait until planting time to think about what you’re going to grow. Seed companies do run out of stock, especially of that ONE variety you can’t find anywhere else! If you rely on mail order, best practice is to order early for the best selection. And when the ideal planting weekend arrives, you want to have your seeds on hand!

2. Compost.

This may mean different things for different folks. Compost is a FREE source of nutrition for your garden, as well as a FREE way of disposing of organic material, all without contributing to landfills! If you’re new to composting, resolve to keep a small bucket in the kitchen for fruit/vegetable waste. Keep a larger barrel outside to empty into, and layer kitchen scraps with leaves or shredded paper.

3. Focus.

Part A: Focus on one crop! Choose one vegetable to focus on this season. Master the art of spinach, or learn how to nurture celery, or grow the biggest pumpkins. My resolution: try starting leeks from seed!

Part B: Focus on one technique! Try out one new technique or gardening method. Build a raised bed, or install drip irrigation, or raise trellises to grow pole beans or other climbing crops.

4. Increase growing space.

What gardener has “enough” growing space? Not one that I’ve ever met! My garden grows in some way every year. Here are a few ways to increase your growing space:

  • Do you have acreage to expand into? Dig the sod and till the soil just a few feet further this spring.
  • Are you planting in standard rows? Explore square-foot gardening, which endeavors to maximize every square foot of growing area.
  • Do you have a small, fixed area for gardening? Build up! Tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, peas and lots more will readily climb a structure if you supply it.

5. Use the compost!

Adding kitchen scraps to the compost bin or pile is just the first step. To truly benefit your plants, that compost must find its way to the garden! I sift mine into a wheelbarrow before applying. My resolution: start sifting older compost early.

6. Mulch.

Apply straw, leaves or sheets of black plastic to keep moisture in and prevent weeds from taking over your garden. Easy to forget in the rush to plant early, but it’s well worth the time. My resolution: apply black plastic mulch to all garden beds before weeds start to grow!

7. Weed!

It’s a bad habit of mine to let the weeds go until they’re taller than the vegetable plants. Not a good idea. Weed relentlessly, and start early! For example, here in the humid northeast, if I let them go too long, I’ve lost the onions.

Here in zone 3/4, it’s planning season: I’ve received a few seed catalogs and am beginning to plan my garden for spring. It will be a couple of mouths before I start seeds indoors. But now is the time to commit to better habits, and a better growing season!

What do you plan to do/change/grow in your garden this year?

38 Comments

    1. Hi Shanna, I hope you do get into gardening! What would you grow? This winter my focus has been growing herbs inside. My house smells so delicious 🙂 Thanks for reading.

  1. Thank you for this! We are setting up a new garden this year and I need the reminder to just *focus* (as well as order early!) Your blog is so helpful to us as we navigate our new gardening adventure!

    1. Thank you, Christy! I really think focusing on one or two things every year has made me a better gardener. Best of luck to you in your new garden!

  2. Great list! My husband loves gardening. It’s freezing out now but we will have to start these ina few weeks. Can’t wait for all the fresh fruit and veggies.

    1. It’s easy to take on too much, especially when it’s something new. When I was new at starting seeds inside, I did way too many and they all died. It was devastating, all that work! My focus this year is to start leeks from seeds. Just one new thing. 🙂 Thanks for reading.

    1. Hi Karen, what would you grow? I used to plant only vegetables (limited space) but am expanding more into flowers lately.

  3. This is something I really wish I could be more successful at gardening! I literally kill everything! My mother is a great gardener and has given me aloe plants, cherry toms, basil plants and the list goes on without better outcomes! hahah

  4. Great idea to start with one vegetable. I would be thrilled to master even one. It’s amazing how fast weeds can take over!

    1. Ohh the weeds! All it takes is a weekend away, and you return to a jungle! What vegetable will you focus on this year?

  5. Oh I love this garden talk. Lovely thoughts of garden planning on this -34 day in northern Manitoba. I like the idea of extending my garden, using mulch to manage the weeds, and focusing on doing well with one vegetable. This year I am going to try growing celery. Keep up the good work.

    1. Thank you! I’ve been dreaming of gardening during this super long stretch of cold (though not as cold as Manitoba!) Good luck with your celery; I’m trying leeks from seed this year. 🙂 Happy winter!

  6. I love looking through the seed catalogs and imagining a garden in my head. I, however, can’t grow a thing. I have a black thumb.

    1. Seed catalogs are just the thing for the coldest days of the year! Sometimes we just need a reminder that spring is coming, someday. Thanks for reading.

  7. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make compost. That is something on my list to learn to do this year. Thanks for inspiring me to get my garden going again.

    1. That’s awesome, composting is a great practice especially when you have a garden! My first year with a compost bin, I was out there turning and aerating every day. The result was marvelous, rich compost. Now I just toss the scraps in the bin and let it be; it takes longer but is just as good in the end 🙂 Thanks for reading.

  8. I just got an indoor compost bin collector (I hate throwing out scraps!) and can’t wait to start an outdoor compost bin!

    1. Tiffany, that’s awesome! My husband bought our first tin-pail kitchen compost bin, and we’re still using it. Outdoors, we have an inexpensive perforated container, but there are dozens of other types available. Good luck with your composting!

  9. I love this post! My son and I have wanted to start a garden, but it seemed like a huge project with our desire for clean, organic veggies. This post is going to be our plan! Thank you! I’m excited, now.

    1. Don’t get overwhelmed; start small! You can expand year after year…I’m still doing that. 🙂 Let me know how your new garden goes! Happy New Year, and thanks for reading,

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