Among the many joys of gardening is that there’s always something new to try and always something new to learn. If you’re ready to try something new, here are a few suggestions:
Try a New Cultivar
Every year the seed companies introduce new cultivars (cultivated varieties) of flowers and vegetables, promising bigger blooms, improved hardiness, better vigor, or great taste. While some advertising is admittedly exaggerated, the seed companies are generally fairly accurate when describing their seeds and plants. Simply visit the web sites or scan the catalogs of seed companies to see what’s new. Or, visit the All America Selections web site (www.all-americaselections.org) to see this year’s and previous year’s winners. All America Selections are generally available at a number of different seed companies—it’s one of the requirements of winning an award.
Plant Flowers Among Your Vegetables
A vegetable garden doesn’t need to be food factory. And, while vegetable gardening space may be very valuable to you, consider adding some flowers to your vegetable garden. Flowers can really brighten the visual appeal of a vegetable garden, and they’ll also encourage friendly pollinators to visit. Many gardeners plant marigolds around the edges of their vegetable gardens, in hope of detracting rabbits and other pests. Consider adding a few plume celosias among your vegetables for a dramatic display of color. View or print this helpful flower planting guide.
Make Your Garden Last…with Photos
Today’s technology makes sharing garden photos very easy. You can email you photos to friends, post them on web sites or make your own greeting cards. Of course, a few good photos are also a great record of where you planted things, so next season you’ll know where to add some flower bulbs, or plant a new perennial, without disturbing what was already planted.
Can It, Dry It, or Freeze It
Many experienced gardeners don’t take the time to save some of their harvest. If you’re one of those, perhaps this is your year to experiment with preserving some of your harvest. Herbs are really easy to dry for use throughout the year; and many vegetables can easily be frozen for later use. One of our staff members routinely freezes dozens of bags of pole beans from his garden. He picks them at their peak of flavor, quickly blanches them, and freezes them in air-tight bags. Even weeks later, it’s hard to distinguish the flavor from fresh picked beans.
Give a Gift from Your Garden
Garden bounty can produce wonderful and creative hostess gifts. A wonderful fresh flower arrangement or a basket of colorful tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants can be a more thoughtful and creative gift than the traditional bottle of wine. Fresh flowers can brighten the day of a co-worker or a neighbor who can’t get outside as much as he or she used to. And, a few fresh tomatoes for a friend or neighbor who can’t have a garden can be a heartwarming gesture.