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Sun, July 21

A gardener's New Year resolutions

The past two weeks' combination of snow and wind can bring grief to any landscape. As snow loads up on trees, the excessive weight is unbearable to plants with under-developed root systems. Winter snow is the reason young upright evergreens are staked. With that in mind, I encourage you to increase the number of stakes on any plant that might be bending to the ground or shows signs of uprooting. If any plant's branches are drooping from the burden of heavy snow, make sure to brush off that hefty bulk. Removing the excess weight alleviates debilitating stress on the plant. A little snow adds to the spirit of the season, but the weight of a lot of snow can strain plants and increase the amount of pruning necessary after the New Year.

Although I'm tending to winter's issues in the garden, my thoughts for the garden center already have shifted to the spring season. Consequently, poinsettias, ornaments and all other holiday trappings must go at any cost, even if it means taking a loss. Here's your opportunity to pick up screaming deals on some of this stuff and to help create space for spring items that have already arrived.

Erecting new shelving, a lot of painting and re-merchandising for gardening's next season have already begun at the center. Organic vegetable and flower seeds are at hand and will supplement a massive display of the wildflower seeds we'll be spreading in January. Dormant apple, peach, cherry and pear trees have arrived and are ready to be planted for spring fruiting. How quickly we move from one gardening season to the next!

Increasing harvests, lowering water costs and reducing my labor time are priorities in my New Year's gardening-related resolutions. I've listed my personal garden goals for the coming year: Feel free to adopt any that will make your gardening experience more enjoyable.

Ken's Gardening Resolutions for 2010:

• I will add perennial flowers to the landscape, even if I have to plant them in containers.

• I will provide for my neighborhood birds by planting a fruiting shrub just for my feathered friends.

• I will help the environment by planting a tree in my yard, in the wild or for a friend.

• I will do major pruning on trees and shrubs, especially those that present safety hazards.

• I will acquire better garden tools, starting with new pruners.

• I will replace ugly plants with attractive new ones.

• I will use more mulch and shredded bark around my plants.

• I will adjust my irrigation clock seasonally.

• I will feed the entire yard with my "All-Natural Plant Food" at least three times this year.

• I will grow spectacular tomatoes and fruits.

• I will have bigger, bolder pots of color on my back patio.

• I will plant flowers specifically for cutting to bring indoors.

• I will not be discouraged by animals in the garden; I will add to my electric fence.

• I will bring used plastic growers' pots to the garden center for recycling.

• I will use my chiropractor and masseuse more often for gardening-incurred aches.

• I will slow down to smell the flowers and invite friends over to do the same.

***

In 2009, concern over the economy, home prices, unemployment, government budgets, Middle East crises, and just trying to keep up with everyday technologies made for a stress-filled life. That's why my general New Year's resolutions are aimed at reducing tension in my life and expending energy on things I love to do.

I resolve to minimize the number of self-inflicted and frazzling deadlines, to keep at my physical workouts and spend more time gardening. Besides enjoying more peace-filled hours in my gardens, I anticipate more time spent helping gardeners at the garden center; both are activities that I love. I especially look forward to more dates with my wife, whom I love. Bring on 2010 !

To my garden column friends, I extend my warmest wishes to you and your gardens.

May you and yours have a healthy, prosperous, joy-filled New Year.

Until next week, I'll see you in the garden center.

Ken can be found at Watters Garden Center located at 1815 W. Iron Springs Road, Prescott, or contact him at www.wattersonline.com.

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