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Sunday, February 5, 2023
Growing Together: A new year brings the chance to fulfil new gardening goals
Native Butterfly Weed. Joanne Young
Native Snowberry Joanne Young
A basil plant. Joanne Young

There is something about a new year that makes you want to set some new goals.

Usually, those goals are centered around health, finances or self-improvement. This year why not set some new garden goals.

If you are like me, every spring I think about all the wonderful things I want to accomplish in my garden and every fall I think about all the things that I didn’t get to that year.

Before you know it, a couple years have passed and not much has changed. So, this year I am setting some goals for my garden.

The first goal is to dream big. I love to dream about what my outdoor space could become and the best thing about dreaming is that it doesn’t cost anything – at least not yet.

Winter is a great time to sit down and write out a wish list. What are the things you have always wanted?

Maybe it is an outdoor kitchen, or an area to entertain family and friends. It might be creating a quiet space for you to sit and relax. Maybe you want to attract more butterflies and birds to your garden. 

Whatever those items might, write them down. It is the first step to forming a plan to achieve your goals. 

Just because you are dreaming big, remember that you can always take small steps to work toward the garden of your dreams. Not everything has to be done at once. 

A garden is always a work in progress. Don’t expect overnight results.

With the rising cost of groceries, you may want to start to grow your own vegetables. It is amazing how much produce can be produced from a small space. 

Even one tomato plant, purchased for about $3, can produce up to 10 pounds of fruit.

No space for a garden? No problem. Many vegetables can be grown successfully in containers on a patio or balcony.

Do you have areas of your yard or maybe unwanted views of a neighbouring yard that are a constant eyesore? 

On one side of my yard is a chain link fence that gives an open view into my neighbour’s backyard. Every time that I go out into my backyard one of my first views is of a brightly painted aqua-coloured shed, behind which they store all the kids’ toys. 

It would be so nice to block that view out. This year’s goal is to come up with a solution to hide that view, but also add a special element to the garden. As a designer I love to come up with solutions that can take an ugly site and turn it into a focal point.

Another goal this year is to add at least three new native species into my garden to attract pollinators and provide food for different insects and songbirds. 

It doesn’t seem like that, in itself, will make any impact on the world, but just imagine the effect if all of us added three new native plants to our gardens each year.

It is a step in the right direction. When looking for a new plant to add to your garden, always consider a native species first.

An ongoing goal of mine is to be mindful of building a healthy soil structure. A plant’s overall health and productivity is directly related to the health of the soil it is growing in. 

The best way to improve your soil is by adding composted manure or composted plant material back into the ground. Healthy soil leads to a happy plant.

The last goal I will share is to take time to sit and enjoy your garden. We all have busy lives and spend so much time running around and not enjoying life.

In a day and age where mental health has become a major issue, we do need to take time to smell the roses. Nature has a great way of healing what ails you and will teach you much.

Make sure you make being quiet in the garden one of your priorities this coming year.  Even if you do not have a garden of your own, there are many wonderful gardens to visit.

Remember these words from garden expert Andy Tomolonis: “A gardener’s best tool is the knowledge from previous seasons.” 

Joanne Young is a Niagara-on-the-Lake garden expert and coach. See her website at joanneyoung.ca.

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