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Wed, July 17

2011 resolutions should include your gardening

Courtesy photo<br>Pansies will bloom in the snow.

Courtesy photo<br>Pansies will bloom in the snow.

Happy New Year, everyone! Like most small business owners in a soft economy, I sent the old year out with a robust kick in the pants and am actively preparing for a better 2011. Already the new spring look is being set up and polished. It's especially exciting when the new spring seeds appear at the garden center and just this week the newest flower and organic vegetable seeds arrived. As fellow gardeners, you understand this excitement, don't you? We can park ourselves in front of a seed rack and be happy for the next hour, dreaming of next year's harvests.

With snow on the ground, it's a time for us gardeners to step back and reflect on the year just past and how to better ourselves for the gardening year ahead. With that in mind, I have come up with my New Year resolutions to mold my gardening activities this year. So here we go with gardening resolutions 2011:

I will unplug, slow down and read more this year. A really good garden book is "Tending the Earth, Mending the Spirit: The Healing Gifts of Gardening" by Connie Goldman. It really is a garden book like no other; it is fun-filled and inspiring.

The difference between a novice gardener and an amateur is that an amateur has the right tools. The difference between an amateur and a professional is the quality of the tool used. A good lopper melts through a pruning job like a knife through warm butter; a bad lopper can leave your trees and shrubs butchered. A good tool makes all the difference. I will upgrade at least two of my garden tools to professional grade.

Color is one of the spices of life. I will enjoy more flowers in my surroundings and take time to actually smell their fragrances.

I will not let bunnies or ground rodents exasperate my gardening efforts. Instead I will invest in big bold clay pots and really good soil to fill them. My best tomatoes, flowers and showy shrubs have come from my container gardens. I add a couple to my collection every year.

I will spend more time in the garden with the next generation. Spiritual values, how to unplug, botanical science, and how to relax are all life lessons that can be taught in the garden. Sometimes my kids whine at these sessions, but they always look back with pride at a job well done.

Healthy trees raise property values, reduce heating and cooling costs, improve the quality of life on the patio and enhance air quality. Local landscapes are hard pressed to have enough trees; I will plant at least one new tree this year.

I will feed my landscape at least three times in 2011. Because the right plant food makes all the difference in local gardens, I make my own plant food for local landscapes. I use my 'All-Purpose Plant Food' in the spring, summer and fall. Apply this routine to your gardening and watch your landscape go from peaked to flourishing, small to tall, harvests for only yourself to feeding the neighborhood.

I will plant more flowers I can cut and enjoy indoors. From dahlias to coreopsis and coneflowers they all make exceptional cut flowers, which makes my wife happy.

Bugs will be dealt with swiftly and as organically as possible. Insects own the outdoors and I don't mind a few in the garden, but that is where my tolerance ends. Strategic placement of ladybugs and nematodes, organic sprays and baits will all be in my arsenal against insects this year.

I will replace ugly plants with attractive new ones. Ugly and my home just don't go together and for the price of soup and an all-you-can-eat salad at the local Olive Garden I can replace unsightly plants with healthy new ones both inside and outside my home.

I will adjust my irrigation clock to meet seasonal needs. Why "they" don't make an irrigation clock that is easy to set I don't know, but once you learn the ins-and-outs of your unit it becomes less of a challenge. I added a garden class on April 2 entitled 'The Easy Maintenance Landscape' that will cover irrigation specifically.

I will grow the best tomatoes ever this year and will do whatever it takes to make that happen. New soil, better food, improved irrigation, protection from wind all make for better tomatoes.

I will bring my used plastic grower pots to the garden center so they can be reused and recycled. Even if you didn't buy your plants from me, you can still throw your plastic pots in my recycle bin. If you need a big black pot, feel free to pick through that same bin to find one. I just don't want all those pots to end up in a landfill.

I will slow down, turn off my cell phone, smell the flowers, and invite friends over to do the same.

To my garden column friends and your gardens I extend my warmest wishes that you and yours may have a healthy, prosperous, joy-filled 2011.

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

Ken Lain says, "My personal mission is to help local homeowners garden smarter and get our local garden timing right." Throughout the week Ken can be found at Watters Garden Center located at 1815 W. Iron Springs Road in Prescott, or he may be contacted via www.wattersonline.com.

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