A New Year's Garden Evaluation

January 7, 2014

Whether your weather is nice or not right now, January is a good time of year to plan what you'll be doing for the rest of it.

Here are some things to consider:

1) What grew well in your garden last year?

Plants that really loved where you put them can give you clues to what other similar types of plants might like that part of your yard.

For example, I've planted many different things along the exposed chain link fence in my backyard, but what really thrived last year was my marjoram.

If you find that one of your plants does very well in a certain area, think about why that might be. What kind of plant is it? What is this plant known to like? Think sun vs shade, wet vs dry, soil type, and so on.

Then think about what other similar plants might do well in that area.

In my example, marjoram is an herb that thrives in a Mediterranean climate.

While my climate isn't much like that -- cold and dry in the winter, hot and humid in the summer -- being along that windy dry stretch of chain link must be what this plant enjoys, because it has been growing and blooming there for several years now, in spite of being weed whacked once or twice by sons who weren't being observant of Mom's plants. ;)

Some options in my case might be:

  • plant more of it all along the fence
  • try other Mediterranean herbs there
  • look at other plants that tolerate wind and drought

Certainly things like thyme might like being along this fence as well, and I already know thyme can grow in my yard, because I have one in another area.

2) What didn't go so well last year?

What died, and why? Did you forget to water, or did an unexpected cold front kill the plant, or did something else happen, such as a pest infestation or a germination failure?

Keeping a record of what you planted, where you got the seeds and plants, and what happened to the plant can really help later on. It's easy to forget what you did or where you got those seeds several months later.

And depending on the reason the plant died, you can look into buying varieties resistant to infection, getting a watering timer, or looking at ways to attract beneficial insects to your garden.

What do you regret growing? Sometimes a plant can grow just fine in your area -- even a little too well.

Some examples:

  • invasive plants,
  • plants that you or a member of your family turned out to be allergic to,
  • plants that weren't the color or shape you expected,
  • trees that you put in the wrong place -- too close to the house, in the wrong area of your yard, under wires or over water mains

Make note of these plants and make plans to remove them and put something more suitable there instead.

(I briefly discuss these issues and how to avoid them in my workbook "How to make your own garden landscape design plans", and go into them in detail in my Tasteful Yard Design mentorship program.)

3) What new plants would you like to try?

Have you always wanted to have your own pumpkins for Halloween? Beets for soup in the winter? Early peas and potatoes in the spring? Your own, absolutely fresh, sweet corn in the summer? These are all very possible, even for beginning food gardeners.

How about adding a fruit or nut tree, or some edible flowers?

Make a list of everything you'd like to try, as well as where you'll put them in your edible garden design.

Then when those catalogs start arriving (I have a stack of them on my coffee table already!), you'll know exactly what to get, what not to get, and how much to buy.

Have fun!

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