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A gardener's list of New Year's resolutions By Mary Carol Sheffield

Every year I make a short list of resolutions for the new year, and I’m sure many of you do, too. Usually, it revolves around longer, more frequent workouts and fewer tempting desserts, but this year, as a University of Georgia county agent, I thought I would focuse my resolutions on my yard and garden.

So here goes. I resolve…

1. To keep a garden notebook. I’m not good at journaling, but if I think of it as data collection that makes it a little easier for me. I will record weather data, including the date of the last frost, amount of rain that collects in my rain gauge after that afternoon shower and daily temperatures. I will also include my planting dates for when I start seeds and a map of my vegetable garden plot.

2. To sketch out my landscape and all the plants currently in place. I’m also not an artist, but a large piece of graph paper, a tape measure and a measuring wheel would go a long way towards preventing me from digging up dormant plants. It will also help me to plan for future bed installations and plantings. Before I do this, I resolve to call the “Call before you dig” number (811), so that I can add the underground utility lines to my map.

3. To spend at least 10 minutes each day, scouting my beds for insects, diseases and weeds, and take preventative measures to help reduce problems with these pesky garden visitors.

4. To use my UGA Extension soil test recommendations to help cultivate a healthy lawn and garden. Not only will following these recommendations help my plants look better, but they will help me prevent excessive nutrients from entering ground water and streams in my area.

5. To keep a list of the plants I put in my garden and record their sources, the date I purchased them and the date they get planted.

6. To look for ways to reduce water consumption around my landscape, including planting drought resistant plants and watering on a consistent schedule. I will water between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m. in order to use water efficiently. I will also consider adding a rain barrel to my landscape in order to capture rain water from my gutter system, which will be used in my landscape.

7. To visit botanical gardens in my area and in my travels. What better way to be inspired to plant and create new areas in our own landscapes?

8. To plant a few new varieties in my vegetable garden, along with the tried and true varieties that always produce well in my area.

9. To reduce the area of my lawn to just the amount that is manageable and useful for my landscape needs.

10. And, lastly, to lose ten pounds while putting all of these resolutions into action!

I hope you will adopt some of my resolutions or create a list of your own for 2013.

(Mary Carol Sheffield is the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agricultural and natural resources agent in Paulding County.)

Rain barrel
Rain barrel

A rain barrel collects rain water for use in a community garden on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Ga.

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A rain barrel collects rain water for use in a community garden on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Ga. Download Image
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