A lot of people may think the cold winter months - especially January and February - are the most useless months of all in the garden, truly a dead time, of unpleasant temperatures with no color or life. Although this may be a tad true of the outdoors at this time of the year, a gardener’s mind is very much alive with rejuvenated optimism for a new growing season. In the winter months, a gardener starts planning their garden. Excitement builds as seed catalogues start arriving in the mail and page after page of new possibilities encircle their minds. But before any seeds are ordered and new tools are bought, a vision is needed.
Can you picture what you want your garden to look like? Are you creating a new garden from scratch or adding on to an existing one? Can you imagine the plants you’d like to grow? Ask yourself lots of questions about the garden in your mind.
Are you envisioning a lush vegetable garden filled with rows of colorful vegetables just like Mr. McGregor’s garden in Peter Rabbit? Are you envisioning a colorful rose garden with non stop blooming from spring to fall with virtually no maintenance?
Maybe you have a vision of having a beautiful row of hydrangeas bursting with big blue flowers along a fence in your front yard just like on Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard.
Whatever you envision for your garden or property, write it all down. Every grand detail you can think of.
Now...you need to look at your list and then at yourself, take a deep breath and get grounded. I’ve learned through many fails and lots of money that you need to begin by getting realistic with your vision and setting small goals. Beautifying your property is an investment of your time, energy, and money. How much of all three are you willing to donate to your vision? Be honest!
Is this your first time trying to grow vegetables? Instead of trying to grow every vegetable you can think of, start small with just a couple vegetables and herbs, maybe sowing some peas or beans, and planting a tomato bush, parsley, and basil. Weeds do not weed themselves and a huge veggie garden overtaken with more weeds than veggies is not only overwhelming, but can become hours of tedious work.
That vision of gorgeous hydrangeas bumbling over a fence that you envisioned? Good luck with that if you live in a high deer traffic area. Deer would be more than happy to banquet on that Nantucket vision of yours. Maybe a more hardy deer resistant shrub such as Northern Bayberry would be better suited for your property. Don’t get me wrong, deer will eat anything if they’re hungry enough, but some plants are more resistant than others. But that’s a whole another article.
If you have stonewalls around your property (and who doesn’t in NoSto?) you’re more inclined to have chipmunks, moles, and other burrowing animals inhabiting the area. Protecting around your vegetable garden should be just as much part of your vision as what you’re growing inside it.
If you have very little time to dedicate to weeding, fertilizing, and pruning, a formal rose garden is not for you. A small garden bed filled with colorful perennial flowers that come back year after year is more practical.
To conclude: Start with your vision, write it down, be realistic, and set goals for your vision. Start smaller than larger. Don’t plan a 10-acre garden on a 2-acre lot if you get my drift. When you start small with a couple plants, you’re bound to be more successful. And when you have more successes in your garden, you’re more inspired to continue gardening. You can always add on to your garden and include additional plants as the years go on and your confidence as a gardener grows.
Plant for your needs, plant for your space - right plant, right place!
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