Monday, December 28, 2009

December: Gardening Resolutions for 2010

A quick thanks to Ramble On Rose for inspiring me to write my gardening resolutions for 2010. I dredged up my list of resolutions (gardening and otherwise) for 2009 on my now-defunct personal blog here. Let's see, how did I do?

1) Read On the Origin of Species. Um... I started it. And I acquired a second copy, so now there are two copies sitting on my nightstand. I think I'll bump this one and try again this year. I do love me some flowery Victorian writing but Mr. Darwin, your prose is turgid, my good man. Good thing I love you so much.

2) Do a talk at a scientific meeting. Check! Now to try this one again without the panic attack.

3) Bring my weight down to N-8, where N is what I weighed in Jan. 2009, and stay there through the end of the year. Would you believe, Check! I actually lost the 8 within two months. Keeping them off however is an ongoing battle, esp. with the holidays just before deadline.

4) Edge the gardens, do more planting, and essentially bring the existing gardens into neat and healthy condition. Well, I did do more planting, but I was gone or busy for much of the summer (see #2) so the rest didn't get done. I blame myself for writing such a vague resolution. More on this below.

5) Get a little brother for Foley. Check! Except it's a sister, and she is smaller but older. Her name is Lucy and she belonged to our friends who can't keep her anymore. Lucy's resolution is to lose 10 pounds but shh, don't tell her. She's shaped like a barrel!
Lucy-face!!! ... *love*

Okay, three resolutions and two partials is not so bad. So how about 2010?

Professional stuff: Write the first chapter of the dissertation. Do another meeting talk, likely at the Evolution conference in June.

Personal stuff: Read Origin, for real this time. Bring weight down to N-10 where N is Jan. 2009's weight, and keep it there through Dec. 31. If that requires some exercise, that wouldn't be a terrible thing.

Garden stuff:
IMG_43431) Grow my first edible garden. I have the location picked out, in a sunny spot against the house (where the ladder is, in the photo). TMCH will help me build the raised bed. Things to plant: green peppers, hot peppers, peas, onions, garlic. I will only plant things that we're likely to eat (no tomatoes!) and that won't take over the planet (no pumpkins!). The railing that extends out from the house will hold window boxes of greens. It's going to be an adventure!

2) Edge all of the gardens and replace the deteriorating wire border fences. Fences and edging are mostly for keeping dogs out of the gardens, and for making my otherwise random collection of plants look more intentional. Now that I have a big pile of nice bricks rescued from the crawlspace, I have plenty of edging material.

IMG_08173) Thin the plants in the prairie garden and top-dress the soil. I've had terrible problems with the plants flopping over in this garden and the extension service suggested these as possible remedies. It is very frustrating to buy native plants adapted to dry, rocky soils and then have them look like they were run over by a truck in late summer when prairies are supposed to be at their best. The soil may actually be too dry and rocky (this used to be a gravel parking pad) and thus nutrient-poor and excessively fast-draining. Meanwhile, the helianthus has spread quite a bit and I have to bite the bullet and reduce the number of plants. *sob*

Corollary to #3: Take more photos of things going wrong in the garden. I couldn't find a single photo to show the flopping in the prairie garden. It's nice to take pretty pictures and all, but I need to see the trouble spots as well. This photo is from two summers ago and the flopping on the left is hard to see but is definitely there; more apparent is the neglect, which I did rectify, and the ill-placed viburnum, which is gone now.

4) Begin overhaul of the front yard garden. This is contingent on getting the broken concrete sidewalk removed in the spring; if we don't do that, the front yard can just coast as it has for years. If we do, then I have some new yardage to plan out!

So apparently I am going to be very busy in 2010. I'm already looking forward to it! What do you have planned?


Roses and Lilacs said...

I've given up making and breaking new year's resolutions. I did manage to get my cholesterol down to a near perfect number. I will loose the extra pounds I've put on (since my hours at work were cut back I seem to eat a lot more:)

Good luck with your 2010 resolutions.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

It sounds like you have a good plan for the edible garden. Will you be planting any goodies for the dogs? I wonder if your prairie plant floppiness is because of the shade pattern? My prairie plants lean over, way over, to get as much sunlight as possible. In my experience, it's hard to have the soil be too dry for them. Your corollary to #3 is something I need to work on. I get all excited about the things that look good that I forget to take photos of the problem areas.

Ramble on Rose said...

Thanks for the link love, Diane! I have always wanted to read the entire Origins (Darwin being one of my favorite people ever), but I've only read snippets here and there. Please let us know if you make it through, which might finally motivate me to do it! This past year being the book's 150th anniversary I thought I'd make it happen, but alas, no dice.

I heartily agree with the plan to grow edibles you like. I began to get carried away thinking of all the stuff I could grow and then had to realize the garden should have utility, not just stuff growing for the fun of it. And I second MMD's comment about the prairie plants leaning for the light. I have that same problem in one corner of my front border. Sadly, there's not much I can do about it now, it was just some poor planning on my part!

Diane said...

MMD - The greyhound won't eat food that came from plants, and we don't know yet what the beagle likes to eat. She does like to *dig* however, and this could be a problem :/

As for the prairie plants, that garden is in full sun all day. The flopping isn't just a lean; the plants fall over right at the soil level, then turn 90 degrees and keep growing upwards so I end up with large, unsightly areas of horizontal stems. Happens with Helianthus, asters, monarda, even some of the milkweed. I am about 80% sure it's the soil, but fixing it is daunting.

RambleOnRose - There is another book, Darwin's Ghost, that I've heard is like a modern rewrite of Origin. If I feel ambitious I will read it concurrently with the real Origin.

MrBrownThumb said...

If you need another copy of Origins, I'm sure Kirk Cameron and his church friends would be happy to send you a copy of the one they're reissuing for the 150th Anniversary.


Edit: my word verification is "creator." lolz.

Diane said...

Ha, MrBT - That *is* the second copy! I have another one just like it at the office. We were all very amused the day their minions were handing them out.

garden girl said...

Sounds like you've got some big plans Diane! Best wishes on accomplishing you goals!

Our dog George isn't big on veggies, but he's nuts for green beans from the garden. He loves to keep me company everywhere I go, and the veggie garden is his favorite place to hang out in hopes I'll be tossing him a few beans. His other favorite outdoor food is fallen maple sticks. The vet thinks his love of eating them is one of the reasons for his sweet breath and healthy teeth and gums. He's been eating them since he was a puppy and I had a silver maple growing out of the middle of the deck at my last house. He helped keep the deck cleared of all those little twigs that fell on it!

One thing that's helped with floppy plants in our dry, shady garden is pinching them a couple of times early in the season. Pinching them delays their bloom, but keeps them fuller (and shorter.) They also tend to have more blooms when they're pinched. It doesn't work with everything, but really helps keep a lot of stuff much tidier and more upright.

garden girl said...

p.s. Happy New Year!

Diane said...

GG - You're right, I should do more pinching of various plants. The only thing I regularly pinch back is the mums. I once pinched back the heliopsis and they ended up so short that I wished I hadn't done it - I guess I should have done it sooner!

Maybe I should chew some maple sticks. We certainly get enough, courtesy of the silver maple overhanging our yard. Aren't dogs awesome? :)

Happy New Year!!

MrBrownThumb said...


Get out! That's funny, I'm spiritual/religious but I just find Kirk and his antics a little too much. I'm still laughing at the banana video after all this time.

Anonymous said...

You have a busy year...I'm in it for the weight thing. I also have alot of sewing to do to get ready for our first grandbaby in April, many books to read, start oil painting again..... then there's the backyard.....must talk the hubby into pulling some plants & then reworking that planter area with drought tolerant & dog tolerant plants.
Happy New Year!

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Even though I have plans for the garden in 2010, I purposefully don't call them resolutions. Because resolutions are usually self-discipline-y and serious adult-y, and all. I also never list garden tasks on any to-do list. I have to keep gardening fun!!!! I forgot what awful science fiction a friend read, but it kept mentioning "loathsome abominations" and that's now a catch phrase for us... so turgid is better than that! :) And, gasp!, you don't like tomatoes?!?!?! I'll try very hard not to hold that against you, LOL! Please tell me you like beets? That would make it up! LOL! The thin strip will be perfect for your debut veggie garden, because it will be easy to reach into to weed, water, and harvest, without compressing the soil by trudging in it!!! Do you have a compost pile/bin? I really recommend one as a source to amend the soil for the veggie bed.

Dorian said...

We are offering a free pair of Womanswork garden gloves each week in January on our blog. Go to and add your 2010 gardening resolutions under Comments. --Dorian Winslow, owner/president, Womanswork