My New Year’s Resolutions


Yeah, yeah, I have a few of the usual impulses towards self-improvement. I think I should run more, argue less, and try harder to enjoy every day. But compared to my gardening resolutions, these are pretty faint.

In the garden, I am motivated. In life…a little less.

So in 2011, I swear I will do the following:

1. Finally set up a passive solar greenhouse and never eat a supermarket vegetable again. I've been dithering about it for years. Where should it go? How big should it be? Do I have the money for it this month? Enough inertia. As the greatest advertising slogan of all time put it, "Just do it."

The kohlrabi likes its cage

2. Grow up, admit which crops the baby rabbits like and employ chicken wire around them. I have a fence around my vegetable garden: a cedar picket fence that I paid for, with cage wire buried below that I took considerable pains to install, spending weeks on my belly in a ditch nailing staples into cross-rails. I don't like to think that such expense and trouble still isn't enough, but it isn't. Yes, my fence successfully deters groundhogs and deer. No, it does not keep out small rabbits, who will eat the following into non-existence: chard, snap beans of all kinds, soy beans, kohlrabi. In 2010, I had almost no pole beans, thanks to nibbling. I love pole beans. I only harvested kohlrabi because I caged it. So worth the trouble! So pretty, with its little purple bulbs!  Sweet, tender, unique flavor when cut into small cubes in a soup! Next year…chicken wire cages everywhere!

3. To hell with baby carrots. It's time to admit that the really tasty ones are mature. I usually do two plantings of carrots and harvest them young. The spring crop tends to get eaten by my kids before the fall crop is even in the ground. This year, however, I must have planted more than the normal amount in spring and still had some of them into November. They were a revelation. They held perfectly well in the garden months after I would have said they were mature to the point of senescence. And, like parsnips, they sweetened up radically after a few frosts. 

4. Plant way more onions from seed.  Store more onions to stave off a winter depression brought on by supermarket produce. Anybody who cooks knows that there are ingredients and then there are ingredients. Even the humble onion–who would have thought–becomes a star when it is homegrown.

5. Get even more reckless than I already am. Snake gourds, jelly melons, chrysanthemum greens. They will be in my garden in 2011…that is, until they wake up, look around, and realize this is not India, Africa, or Japan, but just upstate New York, world capital of slush and vinyl siding. So what if most of them fail? No one ever went bankrupt trying a little patch of a new vegetable.

6. Grow up. Cage newly planted fruit trees against deer. There are few things in life I enjoy more than a tiny, sweet, maroon 'Seckel' pear. I have planted at least five 'Seckels' here in the country over the years. Not a one survives, all of them either browsed by deer or trampled by deer.  Time to validate my feelings for 'Seckel,' order another, and protect it from the damned deer.

7. Plant fall-bearing raspberries. Lots. I planted summer-bearing a few years ago in the laziest possible way, sticking the canes into a long mound of compost I shoveled onto the lawn without even bothering to break up the sod. My lawn guy controls them by mowing around them. I never get around to pruning out the old canes or weeding in between them. How are they reacting to this mistreatment?  By producing tons of berries so good that I find myself whiling away hours in July in my raspberry patch, just eating. 

8. Kick the rhubarb out of the garden and make room for more 'Purple Passion' asparagus.  I like rhubarb, but I now have a row of half a dozen giant rhubarbs and they are hogging much room.  These are really toughed-assed plants. The previous owners had some planted in a spot that is now lawn and despite eight years of mowing over, I'll still see rhubarb knobs appearing in the early spring. I'll find some demi-wild spot for mine, and they will do just fine.  Asparagus, on the other hand…I'm just not getting enough for a family of five, now that my youngest daughter has discovered this vegetable. If you have never tasted just-picked asparagus, you have never tasted asparagus. It is not the same if it sits in the refrigerator even overnight, let alone two weeks in the produce section of your Price Chopper.

9. Plant ground cherries. These are a tomatillo relative, with a papery skin like a tomatillo, but their flavor is sweet and fruity, not sharp and acidic. My older daughter Georgia, who loves fruit, asked me to buy a quart for her at a farm stand last summer and then ate the box in 10 minutes. I find tomatillos amazingly productive and easy. Any fruit that grows equally easily…must be planted!

10. Grow up and admit that without netting, there are no currants. I hate netting my bushes. Their tender growth really suffers when smashed into a plastic net cage. They're ugly netted. It's hard to reach the fruit. So I didn't net last year. And maybe I harvested a pound of fruit from 10 currant bushes. The birds? They made off with 50 pounds.  


To sum up, in 2011, in the garden at least, I resolve to be more crazy and less lazy, to take a little more time to forestall the problems that I can foresee–while refusing to worry about the ones I can't. 

I hope your resolutions are equally unserious!  And happy New Year to all!


  1. Sounds like some serious vegetable gardening to me, and some good resolutions. Looking forward to hearing how all this grows for you.

  2. Even the Queen Mother, at Glamis Castle, had chicken wire around her beloved perennial border.

    Your currants remind me of all the gooseberry houses I saw across Europe. Simple frame with netting. Usually rectangular, 5′ hi, 5′ wide & 8′ long.

    Of course those netted houses for gooseberries had wicked thoughts churning. You know, slip in and eat them ALL !

    Happy New Year…….

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  3. I could resolve to have more room for asparagus (having tended my uncle’s smallholding years ago, I know the joys of fresh-picked spears), but it might involve too many life changes and a bigger mortgage. Have a great gardening year, Michele!

  4. Hear, hear… battle of deer goes up a notch. I am considering putting up fencing to protect my ornamentals so I can enjoy the blooms and the heck with the fence bothering me as “not being pretty”.

  5. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe I have an excellent grocer, but I could never detect much of a difference between onions I bought or onions I grew.

  6. Before you plant alot of fall raspberries, try planting a just a few first. Maybe some the new varieties are better suited to northern gardens but I don’t recommend Heritage everbearing raspberries. They fruit prolifically well in the fall but the berries don’t have much flavor – presumably because the rapidly diminishing day lenth offers too little sun. Also keep in mind that the fall raspberry season is often cut short by a hard frost in September.

  7. Chicken wire is our friend! I’ve also learned the hard way and now wire above and below ground (for gophers). My main resolution: weed early and weed often. I’m restoring native habitat and want to see more progress this year!

  8. I wholeheartedly recommend the ground cherries. And any other unusual fruits/veggies. Most farmers’markets offer a good variety of seasonal staples for daily use, but it’s the unusual things you can’t find there that make growing food fun. And it wows your friends & neighbors when you bring over ground cherry jam or feijoa preserves to share.

  9. I like that several of your garden resolutions start with: ‘Grow up’. I am trying to do that too, with some similar applications and some unique to my garden. As a 61-year old person who never had children, I’ve often feared I was just not a grownup in my life overall. Now that it’s way too late to bear offspring of the human kind, I can still hope to get a bit more responsibility going towards my plants in 2011. My big chicken wire thing is going to be for containing chickens, which, in this, their first year, are absolutely shredding my poor dormant garden this winter. I wish you all the best with your growing up, just as long as it doesn’t make your overly serious or unfun. Cheers!

  10. Good set of resolutions. For fall bearing raspberries in northern gardens, you cannot beat ‘Anne’ and ‘Caroline’. One is red, one yellow — both great and very prolific.

  11. I have employed poultry netting to deter the rabbits but it does not stop the VOLES who ruined my potato crop. This year I am turning to hardware cloth. *sigh*

  12. The thing I like best about ground cherries – besides the clafouti, jam, and smoothies – is that they self-seed year after year, and twine themselves most poetically all through the garden, without any help from me.

    I love the “more crazy and less lazy” sentiment!

  13. I like your resolutions too. They seem geared towards more production, and less worry about aesthetics, which is, after all, what a veggie garden should aim for. Although the aesthetics are nice–but better on the table 🙂 ONe of my hopes this year is to focus more on the actual veggies and fruits that me and my family like to eat regularly, and less on the weird and interesting stuff that catches my eye in the catalogs and garden centers. also, Ihave an aversion to planting huge amounts of any one thing, in favor of a variety. But when harvest time comes around, I always wish I’d planted more of the stuff I really use. Time to figure out how much of each thing I need to plant to fill our needs.

    And, I will plant more flowers, just for fun!

  14. Hooray for ground cherries! We grew them for the first time last year and they were a delicious revelation to us and everyone we shared them with. Why the heck aren’t they more popular? Native, easy to grow, so tasty–what gives?

  15. Mine will be to set trends, and kick butts with equal opportunity standards, starting with these lame rants, for the self centered USA fellow Americans….Ban the turf, palms and hedges….

  16. Someone once gave us a boatload of ground cherries. Tasty little buggers, citrusy- but a pain to clean. Those papery hulls just don’t want to come off. My resolution is to finally admit that many of the shrubs I inherited with the 90 year old house need to be removed before they swollow said house and get the saw and clippers and shovels out and go to it.

  17. I like the ‘more crazy, less lazy’ too.

    And a tip….

    I’ve avoided bird netting for our figs, raspberries and strawberries by using inflatable snakes. Cost $8 apiece and blow up like a balloon. they’re curvey, so they hang up in a branch easily and scare away the birds–as long as you move them every other day. Which is also a good schedule for harvesting anyway, so no lost time there.

    If you don’t move them, the birds figger out that it’s a ruse.

    Good luck! Frank

  18. Hi all. I need some suggestions for seeds to sow in the greenhouse now (Jan). I
    ainly do edibles and perennials and sell or trade them from

  19. I would resolve to finally plant asparagus, but after 30 years here, I still can’t decide where such a permanent bed should be placed. I should just grow up!

  20. Grow Up and More Crazy are usually on my Resolution list, along with learn to say NO!

    Since Rhubarb is kinda tricky this far south I won’t be kicking it out of my garden. I learned a long time ago that even with an acre garden I can’t grow enough asparagus, garlic or blueberries – and there are only two people in my household!

    Ground Cherries are so much fun but once your local songbirds figure them out they tend to get them all. The flavor is at its peak when they fall off the plant so if you pick them up every morning you can keep the birds from learning all there is to know. I like to grow them through holes in plastic sheeting on a slope with a trench so that all the fruit end up in a row waiting for me each time I’m out in the garden. I grow just about every type there is (and there are many to choose from) and think Cossack Pineapple tastes the fruitiest. If you can find Physallis peruviana, called Uchuva in Colombia, they are just as easy to grow and taste like kumquats.

  21. I too want a passive solar space for winter growing. So far I classify it as a fantasy not a resolution, but sometimes we act out our fantasies, so . . .

    Let us know what you design or buy!


  22. My New Year’s resolution for the garden – Don’t buy 1 of anything! I’ll only pull it as a weed the next spring. If I don’t like it enough to buy at least 3, I don’t really like it. An added bonus – repetition is good design.

  23. How long should a southern garden need to grow Asparagus to harvest time? I sell out of asparagus every year and have not planted my own personal garden. Someone who bought some from me at

    said that after 2 years hers were still mere beautiful ferny plants and not dinner.

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