New Year’s Garden Resolutions
Our Garden Notebook writer Katie shares what she wants out of her garden this year
If you’re anything like me, this is the time of year when your friends call from the East Coast complaining about 3 feet of snow while you hang out on your porch enjoying a light breeze in 60-degree weather. How do we as San Diegans not wake up every morning, pinch ourselves and ask how we ever got so lucky as to live in Southern California? Sure, we don’t get a lot of the changing seasons, multicolored leaves or rotating crops, but every day is a good day to plant, and I’m here for it.
January also brings a trail of social media posts mentioning New Year’s resolutions. Confession: I’ve never been much of a resolution kind of gal. Sure I’ve set goals in my career and certainly for my family, but resolutions usually incite pressure and stress. I get a little jittery just thinking about them. But here’s the thing that I’ve found about journaling and putting ideas and stories down on paper: It can keep you accountable and maybe, just maybe, plant a seed of motivation to set out on a path you design. So, in the spirit of trying new things and being brave, here are my ideas for my 2019 garden, and fingers crossed that one or two goals take root and come to fruition!
Fallbrook and Bonsall have come so far this past year after the tragedy of the Lilac Fire. It has been a long road to begin rebuilding after all of the damage that high heat and dry brush dispelled all over California.
It’s up to all of us to think and act defensively in preventing and preparing for brush fires in our area. For our family, the most proactive route is to clear any dry brush or dead foliage around our property.
Local fire departments and Cal Fire will help homeowners remove danger zones, big and small, so reach out and ask these organizations for help. For more info, check out calfire.ca.gov.
I’m about six months into my new garden hobby, and I think I’m finally ready to take the leap into seed starting. I don’t know why I find planting seeds so intimidating, but I do. Maybe it has to do with the wait time before you see a result or the feeling that odds are against success because seeds are so fragile. But, despite the unease, I am finally coming around to wanting to start from scratch.
This year, I want to put a heavy focus on warding off my critter friends. I feel bad for little Peter Rabbit, but I’d really love to taste my strawberries.
I have a two-point plan of defense. First, I’m going to reinforce our existing fence, placing wire below the dirt to prevent digging. Second, I plan on rescuing two semi-feral barn cats. This idea has been a long time coming, but I’m excited to add to our gang of farm animals.
Additionally, I resolve to break this news to my dogs. (For more info on feral cats, visit Love Your Feral Felines at loveyourferalfelines.com.)
Kid-proof the yard
From the beginning, my primary goal for our garden was to provide a safe, fun and educational space for my little ones. As my youngest enters the “terrific twos” this year and grows more curious, she also gets to be more of what we lovingly call “an accident waiting to happen.” This has been a huge wake-up call for me to do all I can to prevent injuries around the yard.
This year, I’m really excited to implement several kid-friendly areas in the garden and yard.
I’d like to have a watertight bin in our storage shed stocked with sunscreen, hats, snacks and waters. This will prevent a lot of running back and forth into the house for last-minute kid requests and increase the odds of staying hydrated and sun-safe.
Between spicy peppers, chicken chasing and mud playtime, we get pretty dirty, so now I’m in the market for an outdoor wash station like the Zenvida Outdoor Garden Utility Sink, Planting Station with Hose Hanger. ($129, amazon.com)
Gardens are the perfect place for any kid to be creative in nature. I’d love to add an art easel and sand/water table for the kids to have their own special place in the garden where they can express themselves and the beauty they see every day.
One of the best things about having a new passion for growing things is that I am suddenly empowered to introduce new foods to my family and try vegetables that have been, up to this point, a no-go.
I have even been browsing through my heirloom seed catalogs, and while some of these veggies look a little odd at first glance, I’m challenging myself to be brave and try something new. I plan on branching out with squash, okra and even Brussels sprouts.
More quality time in the kitchen
This past year, I dipped my toe in canning and I’d love to do more! Lemon curd, pomegranate jams and pickled cucumbers all sound intriguing. I’d like to gift more of what I grow and share the hard work that my family puts in every day in our garden and grove.
These days, my 5-year-old is grabbing an apron and jumping in to help with the cooking. I would love to teach her more about preparing what we grow. It would be great for her to pick one garden recipe a week, and I’ll serve as her sous-chef.
Host a garden party
Parties are my jam, and I love hosting a good dinner soirée. Really, any reason to celebrate gets me excited, so this year I’d like to share my garden with friends and family and at harvest times. “Picking parties” and garden celebrations are a great excuse to gather. I’m thinking a farm-to-table meal with homemade jams as party favors.
I heard the warnings to “start small” as a first-time gardener, but that’s like telling a first-time parent not to buy a bunch of Christmas presents for their 6-month-old. Intellectually it makes sense, but everything in you thinks “go big.” Live and learn. Our first go-around had me filling up every garden bed with a variety of plants. This mindset often left us fruitless and overwhelmed. Plants, like people, need space. Giving them a little room and scaling down doesn’t mean failure. This year, I want to focus on a couple of crops per season (hopefully, some that I had success with in the past) and master tending to their needs, i.e., fertilizing, pruning and harvesting at the opportune times. I also would like to plant more of what my kids tend to enjoy eating now and throw in a little of what I hope they’ll start eating.
Create a garden calendar
The fact that it’s taken me six months to start my garden’s very own iCal is a bit startling. Why didn’t I do this sooner? Setting timers and reminders for garden tours, deliveries, harvest times and fertilizing is the perfect solution for any gardener on the go. Between my newfound calendar reminders and the “buy it now” button on Amazon, what more could a green-thumbing mom ask for?
I want to “close the loop” and spend less time shopping for new fertilizer, wood and compost. Ideally, I’d like to set up a centralized compost system that can withstand the elements and is accessible to the garden, grove and yard areas. It’s easy to make piles of recyclable materials, but if you can’t get to them, or if they’re just stacked up and never turned over, you’re in danger of wasting valuable organic resources! If we have extra, I’d like to donate to friends or even compost centers.