By Alex Tisthammer
This is the time of year when we reflect on the past growing season. What worked, what failed, and what we’re excited to try for next year. By the end of October I am usually ready for some rest and to clean the dirt out from under my fingernails for the winter, but that was almost three months ago and now I am itching to dig in and do it all over again! Below are 10 gardening goals I am already dreaming and scheming about for the upcoming year.
- Join a CSA! We are lucky to be near many local CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) in Fort Collins and the surrounding areas. Native Hill Farm, Folks Farm, and Gardensweet are just a few local CSAs in the Fort Collins area. Supporting a CSA supports your local farmers and promotes a more profitable and transparent food system. Purchasing a share at a farm also helps farmers make improvements and help cover upfront costs of supplies or if weather damage occurs. Plus, you get lots of fresh and delicious food throughout the growing season!
- Water Deeply and Less Frequently. If you are someone who has to handwater most, if not all, of your garden, you know how watering your garden in the morning before work can become somewhat of a frenzied task. Because of this my watering this past year became shallow while I tried to get everything moist, and I was having to water almost every morning and sometimes in the evening because everything dried out so fast. By the end of the growing season I noticed my crops declining. In the coming year I will switch it up and work on watering longer and deeper on the days I do water. This method saves water, improves the health of my plants, and helps them create deeper root systems. The beds also stay wet longer, so I don’t have to water as much.
- Start a Compost Pile. Compost piles are a great way to get rid of excess organic matter in the home and yard without it going to the landfill, while at the same time creating your own compost so saving you money. Interested in composting but need more information on how to go about this? We will be hosting a ‘Backyard Composting 101’ class on January 15th. See our website for more information and to purchase your ticket.
- More Garden, Less Lawn! Less lawn is always better, and each year you can chip away at digging up more lawn and replacing it with more water wise plants. This reduces your water bill, improves your landscape and creates more habitat for pollinators and other wildlife.
- Attend a Winter Gardening Class. We have some great classes coming up this year, and registration is open now on our website. Classes are the perfect way to get you into the mood for the next growing season and a way to discover a new niche to experiment with. Some of the class topics offered are medicinal plants, seed saving, espaliering fruit trees and Japanese Beetle resistant landscapes. We aren’t the only ones hosting Winter Workshops; Gardens on Spring Creek also has some great classes coming up, including classes on botanical illustration, beekeeping, and pickling.
- Plant Pollinator-Friendly and Low-Water Plants. This is pretty self-explanatory and should be a goal every year for people in our area. We carry many low water and native plants, as well as a wide selection of Plant Select selections.
- Go to a Botanical Garden. If you’re a plant fanatic like me, it’s always fun to see if there’s a botanical garden nearby when traveling! It’s a great way to see different plants around the country, as well as see how versatile some are. If you are a Denver Botanic Gardens member, a reciprocal membership program is included that gives you access to special admission privileges and discounted admission to 300 participating gardens, arboreta and other cultural sites in North America. If you aren’t planning on going on any trips, Gardens on Spring Creek or the CSU Trial Gardens are a few hometown gardens that are always nice, so grab a coffee and stroll around for the afternoon. The Denver Botanical Gardens or Chatfield Farms are some other gardens that aren’t too far away that are wonderful to explore.
- Have a Consistent Fertilizer Schedule. Tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are just some of the vegetables that are fun to grow but will perform best if you have a consistent fertilizer schedule. Fertilizer will encourage green growth, more blossoms, and give you a bumper crop! Some perennial plants that would also benefit from a consistent fertilizer would be hydrangeas, clematis, and specialty roses, in order to keep them producing buds and looking luscious throughout the season.
- Prune Trees at the Correct Time. It’s hard to remember when to prune your trees since it’s usually so early in the year, but February is the perfect time to get out there and prune most trees. This time of year is ideal because sap isn’t flowing as heavily, which is especially important with maples that ooze a lot of sap when pruned. February is also when tree diseases are minimally present, greatly reducing the risk of your trees getting infected when pruning.
- Try Some New Seed Varieties. Seed Savers Exchange, High Mowing Seeds, Botanical Interests, and Renee’s Garden Seeds are great seed companies with fascinating catalogs and are all available at Fort Collins Nursery. Seed catalogs are the perfect inspiration to start dreaming about new plants for the New Year! I am personally excited for a new tomato from Seed Savers Exchange, ‘Council Bluffs Heirloom Tomato.’ It is an indeterminate heirloom variety with a relatively short 67-day maturity, and produces medium sized beefsteak-type fruit with well-balanced, sweet flavor and moderate acidity. Don’t miss Folks Farm, which is not only a local CSA but also sells seeds that are regionally adapted for our area. We will have a wonderful selection of their seeds for sale again this year. Alex Zeidner, the Owner of Folks Farm and Seed is also presenting a Beginning Seed Saving, Selection, & Crop Adaptation class at Fort Collins Nursery on January 21. See our website for more information and to purchase your ticket.
Originally published on January 3rd, 2023.