Now is a great time to set some goals for next year’s gardens. Your recent and current successes and shortfalls are fresh in your mind. Here are some ideas of goals that you might set for next year’s gardens:
What to Grow
Now is the best time to decide what to grow and what not to grow next year. Of course, this pertains to annuals, as you’ve already made a commitment with your perennials. What annual flowers and vegetables were particularly pleasing? And, which vegetables or flowers were a disappointment? Simply make a list of things you want to grow next year. One easy way to do this is to establish an Excel file on your personal computer; you can easily add additional sheets for new lists. When the new seed catalogs arrive, or when you read about new cultivars, you can always edit your list. So, don’t hesitate to make a list at the end of this season.
How Much to Grow
Even experienced gardeners sometimes get carried away with how much to plant when new seasons start. If you grew too much squash, or your tomato plants were too close together when they matured, now is a good time to make a note of this for next year’s garden. A great way to remind yourself of what you grew, where you grew it, and how it turned out, is to take pictures during and at the end of the season.
If you have fruit trees that produced disappointing yields, remind yourself to prune them early next season. You might even want to remove some of the small fruits soon after pollination to reduce the competition for nutrition as the season progresses. Careful pruning and thinning can make a significant difference in apple, peach, and pear production.
Probably all gardeners would add the goal of less weeding to their lists. You can plan for less weeding next season by setting a goal to collect, shred, and save leaves this fall. Shredded leaves, mixed with grass clippings, make a wonderful mulch that will both suppress weeds and help maintain moisture in your gardens. If you have room for a couple of large, plastic trash cans, with lids, you can save a lot of shredded leaves. Shred them with a shredder or lawn mower, and store them so that they’ll stay dry over the winter. A little bit of time this fall can save you time, and reward you with better soil, next season.
Start Your Own Annual Seedlings
Perhaps you’ve thought about growing your own vegetable and annual flower seedlings. Over time, growing your own seedlings can save you money and add to your gardening enjoyment. You can grow a much wider variety of cultivars than those that are available at nurseries, and with a little planning, you’ll have them when you want them.
If seed starting is a goal for you, now is a good time to plan for this activity. Make a list of what you’ll need to set up your own seed starting operation, and get your supplies prior to seed-starting season.
Would you like to make better use of the water provided by nature? Or, do you have an occasional problem with too much water? This winter is a great time to plan for better water management and to obtain any special equipment you might need for next season’s gardens. (See Managing Water in the Garden for ideas on how to cope with too much or too little of this precious resource.)
Set Some Goals
Now’s the time to set some goals for next year’s gardens. Even if you just make a short list on one sheet of paper, and put the paper where you’ll occasionally see it over the winter, you’ll be better prepared for next season.