One way through which we know that it is the New Year is by all the joggers out on the roads and the spectacular spike in gym attendance. We always set goals for ourselves as we embark on a new year, yet these rarely extend to our gardens. So, why not pick a few simple gardening resolutions that you can practice for the whole year? If this sounds too daunting, you can always pick one to start with and add to it as your confidence increases.
1: I will spray less in the garden
- We seldom think of all the other denizens in our gardens when spraying for a specific pest, weeds or just by over spraying in general. Many of the critters that we accidentally kill would have helped us with pest control, aiding with pollination or helping to keep our soil healthy.
- For example, our Wild peaches (Kiggelaria africana) are currently being munched on by Acrea horta caterpillars. Yet this natural pruning actually helps the trees to rejuvenate. Caterpillars are often approached with unjustified fear and disgust, yet without them, we wouldn’t have one of Nature’s most beautiful creations: butterflies.
- Have a look at how you can garden with Nature and not against it.
2: I will mulch more and conserve water
- With the much-needed summer rains arriving, we have seen flooding and even some days where we felt as if we could do with a bit less. Unlike the Cape, which mainly falls under the winter rainfall region, the rain we are currently receiving in the rest of South Africa has to tithe us over until the next rainy season. Recently Kwazulu-Natal has had its water restrictions lifted – let’s hope we’re next.
- Although parts of South Africa have recently received rain, we as gardeners and citizens must do our utmost best to conserve water in the garden and home.
- Mulching is still one of the best ways to conserve water and there are loads of nifty tips that you can use.
3: I will not try to do everything at once
- Changing a part of your garden or beginning a brand new one can be a daunting task. Yet this can be made easier by taking a pragmatic approach.
- Don’t try to get everything done all in one go. Rather, break the process down into smaller steps.
- Start with soil preparation and the hard landscaping such as stepping stones, pots, pebbles etc. Then move to larger shrubs and trees working your way down to the fillers and ground covers.
- This will make it is easier to make changes as you go along, whilst giving you the flexibility of adapting your budget as needed.
4: I will teach someone how to grow food
- Growing your own food is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences. Unfortunately, there are those who haven’t had that opportunity, know how or simply the push to try growing their own edibles.
- Support them through the mishaps by sharing from your own gardening experiences. The spirit of growing, sharing, and nurturing is one we should try to foster in everyone. This can be as simple as helping a child to sprout seeds or grow a single herb.
- Communal food gardens are the way to go and such initiatives should be supported at every opportunity. These provide delicious edibles as well as instil a sense of community and neighbourliness lacking from our walled-in lives.
5: I will challenge myself with that plant that just won’t grow
- As gardeners, we can be quite rough on ourselves at times. One failed planting or losing that beautiful orchid, can leave us doubting whether we will ever be able to grow a specific plant.
- The truth is that most of the time it is simply factors that are beyond our control. Such as the weather or somebody else watering when they should not. As all other parts of nature plants sometimes just die for no apparent reason and we shouldn’t point the green fingers at our own ability. The best remedy is to try again.
- Every failure is an opportunity to learn and improve for the next attempt. This is an ideal chance to involve the whole family, where each member can express their unique take on gardening.
6: Something old or something new
- Indulge in some nostalgia by planting that tree that reminds you of your childhood, or grow a specific veggie that was the key ingredient in a prized family recipe.
- You can also start a new a tradition by planting a tree to commemorate the birth of a child or special event.
- Make this the year that you plant that veggie patch or build that fish pond you have always wanted to attempt but never have.
- Acquire a new gardening skill such pruning your own roses or learning how to take and grow from cuttings.
This time of the year seems to be all about change. Where better to start than with your natural surroundings. Encourage nature to flourish in your space and you will reap its bounty. So let’s make this the year for growth and abundance. As a wise man once said “The best time to plant a tree is a hundred years ago. The next best time is now.”