Friday, January 7, 2011

What Are Your New Year's Resolutions?

My January Garden
Happy 2011! I am not very good at keeping new year's resolutions, but I enjoy making them, as I love new beginnings. So when I received an email from our local newspaper, The Pocono Record, asking for my new year's gardening resolutions, I was ready with an answer. I told Marta, the editor of the 'Home and Garden' section, that I have two main ones: to try square foot gardening and to garden wiser by simplifying.

I have been reading Mel Bartholomew's All New Square Foot Gardening. 

 Growing more in less space appeals to me and I am anxious to put some of his ideas into practice in my vegetable garden. I feel my 8' x 4' raised beds lend themselves to this type of gardening.

My kitchen garden
 As the seed catalogs arrive, I am seeing my vegetable-garden plans in a whole new and exciting light. I would love to hear from other garden bloggers who use or have tried the square foot gardening method.

2010 Harvest
Simplifying is going to be more of a challenge. Sometimes I feel I have 'created a monster' out there with too many gardens to take care of now I am in my 70th year. I read two books that influenced me in my decision to garden wiser: Sydney Eddisons, Gardening for a Lifetime and Joan Dye Gussow's Growing, Older.

 Both authors are AMAZING, with brilliant insights into the practice of gardening and their philosophy of gardening. I recommend these books to all of you, whatever your age. Actually, it was in a blog that I first heard about these books, but I can't remember whose blog it was. I am sorry I have not given you credit, and if you read this, please let me know who you are.

It is true that the physical labor involved in caring for my garden is becoming increasingly difficult: spreading mulch, digging holes, weeding, lifting containers. So how am I going to simplify? Here is my list:
  • Replace high maintenance plants with low maintenance ones.
  • Give minimum care - that means being realistic about what I can do.
  • Accept imperfections.
  • Use labor-saving techniques.
  • Accept help.
  • Keep any new gardens small and simple (Okay, I know I probably shouldn't be making new gardens, but ... )
I will begin by taking stock ... examining each flower bed as I walk around the gardens. Right now they are blanketed with snow, so I am looking at the (simple) plan I drew of each one. Where I find plants that take up too much time, I will remove and replace them with lower - maintenance plants. I know I have younger gardening friends who will be glad of the gift of some of my more aggressive blooms. For example, every spring I need to dig up large amounts of goosenecked loosestrife and obedient plant. Otherwise, these thugs would soon take over the whole garden.

Gooseneck Loosestrife: Beautiful but a thug in my garden
The not-very-obedient Obedient Plant
I have already removed the high maintenance New England asters that succumbed to various diseases every year since they were planted.

 You can read about this task here. I am replacing them with shrubs. Other low maintenance plants I intend to use more of are sedums, rudbeckias and daylilies. Also, spring bulbs are so very reliable!

Rudbeckias tend to be low maintenance
The striking red daylily, Chicago Apache, is my favorite
This fall I planted many more daffodils - can't wait for spring!
Shade gardening is definitely less work than any other. I really appreciate my woodland garden and the shade garden close to my house.

My woodland walk in springtime
The shade garden
Shade garden plants are very low maintenance, especially native ones. My favorite shade garden flower is the hellebore. I plan to plant more of them this year.

I am learning more-and-more labor-saving techniques and I hope to write a post about them in the future. For example, using containers is a great labor-saving method. Almost anything will grow in a container.

Coleus at the entrance to the stone garden
Eddison recommends we get help as we get older. This can be expensive, so I am fortunate in having HH who does more and more each year to make my task easier, even though he doesn't know a weed from a prize bloom. (I think I was very wise to marry a man younger than me!) In my efforts to simplify, I must learn to accept imperfections in my garden. I need to be realistic in giving the garden a minimum level of care. I have to assure myself that when visitors come into my cottage garden, they wont notice a few weeds. This is a difficult one for me.

Now I am wondering what YOUR new year's resolutions are? If you have not made any yet, you can read Marta's article, Monroe County Master Gardeners Make Their Resolutions, in the Pocono Record for some great ideas from the master gardeners in my district.

Again, I wish you health, happiness and great gardening in 2011!

Pamela x

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Dear Pamela, What a lovely post! Your veggies and flowering gardens look so lush and inviting . . . especially now with the cold and snow falling. I will have to check out the books you mention. I have accepted help, for a few years now. It makes all the difference but of course makes the garden more expensive. Good Luck with your resolutions and may this be the Happiest of New Years for you and yours.
    I hear 70 is the new 50! ;>)

  2. Happy New Year Pam! my resolutions were to add more orange and to be a better editor - getting rid of plants that aren't working, like your asters and physostegia. You are so right about the relative ease of shade gardens and the beauty of the hellebores!

  3. This was a wonderful post with good advice and sound resolutions. With all your energy, I would have never guessed you to be 70. You look so young in your photo. I too married a younger man. I am hoping in my later years that he is a big help like HH. You will see him on Monday's post. I went back to the Gorge and he came along. Your kitchen garden it really nice. I do wish I had the space to have one this nice. My garden has a couple pots of tomatoes, lettuce and herbs.

  4. Hi Pam,
    I enjoyed too many things about this post to remember all I was going to comment on. At age 58, I am already having memory problems.

    I'll have to look up those books. I have had one awhile that talks about gardening for older people so they don't injure themselves or something like that. I haven't gotten it read yet.

    When I was in my 20s, I read the first Square Foot Gardening book. We had 4 by 4 foot raised beds. They did fine, but I don't remember the details.

    I look forward to seeing your changes in the spring. I wish I could get my husband to help with the things I'd like help with, and to leave the things alone I don't want him to help with. He's gotten better about that, though.

    Oh, and I don't make resolutions.

  5. I never make new year resolutions, they tend to get broken far too quickly. I'm looking forward to following your adventures in to square foot gardening. They did some trials at RHS Harlow Carr a couple of years ago. I didn't visit at that time but it was shown on Gardener's World, and they seemed to be having a lot of success with it.

  6. Happy New Year, Pam! I didn't make any resolutions this year. I do have a goal, though. I'm registered for a 'walking half-marathon' in May. So I'm starting an on-line training program through the Running Room next week. As far as my gardening goals go, I think 2011 will be a year to concentrate on moving some things around in the beds to better show everything off. (As opposed to starting any new beds.)

    All the best for 2011,

  7. Dear Pam, I SO enjoyed this post! I should confess that I said nothing about gardening in my NY resolutions (shame on me!.)I think it's true that I am a spontanious person when it comes to gardening. I read that book about square-foot gardening and even ordered materials for the beds. I never got what I've ordered, and that was the end of my SFG project. I am sure that YOU will be successful! Your garden is beautiful! Love the pictures. I also love your resolutions especially those about simplifying. This is what I do - I try to simplify my life. I think I am pretty successful in it. Thank you very much!

  8. Pamela,I love connecting with master gardeners. I enjoyed your blog and feel we have a few things in common. When my sister passed away from Lung Cancer I started a memorial garden in her honor. That garden has grown into a magical, peaceful place. What started with a Peach Tree has now developed into a tropical showcase. I have taken over 5000 pictures of the flowers, fruit, trees and vegetables. I post them daily on my website. Please read the comments from people who have been touched by the garden's beauty and the message. you will find the most recent photos and comments in photo gallery 1.


  9. Hi Pam,

    I do not make any resolutions... I find them a little pointless especially as everyone always breaks them! heehee.

    Good luck with your new approach to gardening, I hope you do manage to produce more in the raised beds!
    Simplifying everything sounds like a very worthy resolution to have though, and think most of us could benefit from following such a plan.

  10. Dear Pam, first I have to say that I am amazed that you are 70 you look so much younger for a start and you must have so much energy to have made such a fantastic garden / gardens, so I suspect you keep that younger man on his toes !!!

    This is a lovely post and I was very interested in the square foot gardening as I have just bought a monthly magazine that has a an article on the subject, which is why I bought it. If it's good enough for you then I shall be trying it! so I look forward to seeing how you get on.

    I haven't made many gardening New Year resolutions, but I think one must be to not take it all too seriously. If it grows it grows and if it doesn't so what !!! will have to be my philosphy this year I think.
    Have a lovely week and I wish you and your family a Happy New Year.

    Maureen xxxx

  11. Hi Pam,

    These are some good resolutions. I am terrible at keeping them myself so I try to not go overboard. One of them is to lift weights three times a week. Even in summer.
    I need to read that Gardening for A Lifetime book, several other bloggers have mentioned it so it must be worthy.

    Happy new year to you!

  12. What a great post Pam. I need to follow your advice! Happy New Year to you.

  13. Pam, Happy New Year! I enjoyed reading this post very much. Your snow covered garden is beautiful. Like you, I pour over seed catalogs in the expectation of Spring. I have never grown vegtable in a raised bed, but I am intrigued by the idea. I have such a small gardening space, it seems to make sense for me. I hope your new year is filled with new adventures and beautfiul flowers!

  14. Pam,
    I loved looking at your gardens again.I am with you, I think I have created too many gardens for one person to take care of. Also if something isn't growing like I think it should, I too will get rid of it. I have heard of the one book "Gardening for a Lifetime" and want to get it for my sis so thanks for the recommendation.
    On another subject, I agreed-ed to do the garden tour in June before I started working again and now I think I should back out as I just won't have the time to make things look good enough to have all sorts of people wandering my garden. What do you think? Fondly Meg

  15. Pam I agree with Maureen..You are a youthful 70! I also agree with your resolution this year to make your garden an easier one on the body.. Gardens should be designed to enjoy! If they become to much of a chore they stop being enjoyable! I have the same goals in mind this year and beyond for that reason alone.

    Low maintenance is what I'm shooting for, for the rest of my life! Thank you for sharing your resolutions and books.

  16. Dear Pam, at first felt sad that age is catching up but actually your resolutions make a lot of sense regardless. If I grew veg the square foot garden would appeal and I already do low maintenance. My resolution is to focus on a plan and look forward to seeing how yours takes shape. It will always be a beautiful little piece of England ;)

  17. My resolution (one is about all I can handle) is to make a small level spot in the backyard where I can play badminton, horseshoes, etc. Right now we are a big slope...good for sledding I suppose but not ideal for any lawn games.

    My new garden is extremely high maintenance as it is entirely grass at the moment. I wonder how much of it I can remove this next summer?

    Christine in Alaska, to much lawn

  18. So enjoyable reading your post. My resolution is to grow more vegies in my garden.

  19. Very interesting! I will look out for that book. I am always struggling with space

  20. Beautiful photos of a beautiful garden. I'm afraid I can make no garden resolutions. The winds of change are blowing and there may be a move late spring. So I'll garden vicariously through garden blogs and the gardens of family and friends this coming season.

    I hope you're staying warm and cozy!

  21. Pam, as usual your post was wonderful to read. you put into words many of the things i have been thinking of doing. I too have read square foot gardening and am intrigued by the ideas. I went as far as to make the raised beds but was overwhelmed with the soil mix for the 3 large beds I was making. it was the vermiculite I had trouble finding in quantity. I ended up using compost and soil and peat and went with that. Strangely, my garden didn't do as well as the year before for the veggies. Could have been the weather, or me, or who knows why. we will see what this year brings. as for aging. i am already feeling that way at the age of 51 so I am trying to think ahead i too have bitten off more than i can chew with garden areas. it looks great but it's a lot of work. fun though! Happy New Year

  22. Hi Pam,
    Good resolutions! I look forward to seeing pictures of your square foot garden. It was quite a hit last summer and fall at the demo garden where I volunteer. The two men that planted it kept rotating vegetables and it looked wonderful. Great idea!


  23. I don't make resolutions, I just try new things! Every year I swear my garden will be better than ever, does that count?

  24. Hi, Pam, This year, I'd like to focus a little more on finishing up and maintaining the beds I've already got. And get the plants planted that are still in their containers before getting more plants! :) Thank you for your post! :)

  25. Happy new year, you do have an absolutely lovely garden. My wife also has a toy boy in me,however I am only 11months younger, does that count. I am getting a bit long in the tooth now so I guess taking it easier sounds like a good idea.

  26. Best luck for your projects in this starting year! and please keep us posted on how it goes.

  27. I really like the idea of gardening by the foot. We have a very large garden spot, and this concept of gardening in raised beds by the foot just might helps us do a better job of organizing our vegetable garden. Thanks for the suggestion. cheers. ann

  28. Last year I tried square foot gardening for the first time. I loved it. This year I'm enlarging those beds. As far as resolutions go, I haven't made any, just lots of ideas and plans.

  29. I want to try to add a square foot garden also..Your gardens are beautiful! Thanks for sharing :)

  30. Way back when I used the original square foot gardening book and loved it. My shade gardens are so much less work than my sun gardens. In the shade, clean out and weed in the fall and nothing in the spring. In the sun, relentless weeding that is never enough.

  31. Wonderful resolutions (and photos)! I love love love square foot gardening, and also intensive gardening (John Jeavons wrote the book). Both of their plant spacing tables are dogeared at my house.

  32. Hi Pam; Found your blog through Fer's Blog Carnival -- and love what you have done.
    I have not used the Square-Foot Gardening technique per se, but I have only a small space to play with (six 1-metre by 2.4-metre raised beds), so I use many of the same approaches - such as replacing finished crops immediately with something else, aiming for maximum productivity. I'm looking forward to seeing how much veg you manage to produce on your plot...

  33. Hi Pam, I somehow missed this post before, and have now enjoyed it greatly. Thanks for the book recommendations. I just turned 60 and am also realizing that I don't have the strength and stamina I used to. My biggest resolution for this year is, in keeping with this, to install raised beds. And, as you have also resolved, to get rid of some high maintenance things, in my case those plants that are constantly attacked by slugs. And to concentrate on those plants and chores in the garden that give me the most pleasure. All the best to you, Barbara

  34. Dear Pam
    I know that I have already read this post and commented, but going over your back posts bought me here and I enjoyed it all over again. So many well deserved comments here on this post, your Blog has well and truly taken off you must be pleased. It's lovely.

    Maureen xx