A Few New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Start dozens of alpine strawberry plants from seed.  Impossible to find in the nurseries near me already started as plants.  Yet for a perennial, incredibly easy to get going in a basement.  Super-useful.  Will grow neatly in sun or semi-shade.  Yields perfumy little berries all summer.  I want these cushiony plants everywhere in empty spaces at the edge of various vegetable gardens.  And you do need them everywhere to be able to pick any amount of tiny strawberries worth having.
  2. Fearlessly make sauerkraut in August. I grow cabbage for sauerkraut, but don't always time it perfectly.  I tend to leave beautiful big heads of cabbage standing in the garden too long in high summer, on the theory that the basement is just too warm for good sauerkraut.  The cabbages then rot.  A friend who has made sauerkraut for years assures me it all works just fine, even in the steamy days of August, when fermentation is fast.
  3. Throw principles out of window and add aluminum sulphate to the soil around my blueberries.  I never add anything to my soil any more, even organic fertilizers.  I use a pine needle mulch around my blueberries to acidify the soil around them, and, admittedly, I have never really succeeded with blueberries.  But I have just been enjoying a new book Decoding Gardening Advice by Friend of Rant Jeff Gillman and Meleah Maynard.  And they assure me that I will never make my soil properly acidic with pine needles.  Time to grow up, possibly, and use what works.
  4. Plant fruit at the elementary school garden I do. When you've got 25 kids so interested in gardening and cooking that they are excited about making chard pie…well, I think they deserve some strawberries and raspberries, too.  
  5. Investigate grants for a lab kitchen at the school.  
  6. Be alert for cutworm.  I lost almost all of my beautiful onion, shallot, and leek seedlings last year.  This year, I'll put out a few test seedlings to see if I need to plant every one within a paper towel roll barrier.  But I have faith that I'll have less of a problem this spring.  A piece from the late, great Kitchen Gardener magazine explains that the cutworm moths like to lay their eggs in grass.  And since I made my garden simply by piling compost onto grass, their destructive larvae didn't have to travel far last year to find some tasty seedlings.  To foil cutworms, the piece suggests a heavy mulch, so the moths can't find a nice place to lay their eggs.  Done.
  7. Get out a drill and figure out a system of wires that will actually keep my grapes, roses, and honeysuckle attached to my carriage house.  Instead, of course, of drooping on all passersby.
  8. Stake my leaning peach trees.
  9. Get out a post-hole digger and set up some system of support for the blackberries I planted in the alley between my house and the neighbor's.  It's only polite.
  10. Paint my porch rockers blue.  Right now, they are that disgusting black color that unpainted oak develops.  I've been meaning to paint them for years.  Alas, I don't enjoy painting as much as gardening, and it always seems to be deferred.
  11. Stop deferring.


  1. blue is the colour for garden seats I think. They set off nicely the surrounding plants. Good luck with all your resolutions ! I tend to never take any, no disappointment at the end of the year, only happy surprises about everything that has been achieved without plannng it !

  2. I grew alpine strawberries (“Ruegen” variety) last year from seeds. After all the hassle I found the flavor… unimpressive. The wild strawberries growing in Adirondacks are much more flavorful.
    You can have my 20+ plants if you wish (I live in Albany NY).

  3. Boy, I should write “stop deferring” on my bathroom mirror in 2012!

    Ten years ago I tucked alpine strawberries that I grew from seed in among my perennials — weeding was much more pleasant as they ripened. Also, for the most interesting school garden I have seen, take a look at Phyllis Odessey’s blog and her post on a rice paddy garden in New York http://blog.phyllisodessey.com/2011/12/give-us-this-day-our-daily-rice.html). Happy new year!

  4. These are resolutions? Looks more like a mundane and typical list of chores to me.

    If you were really resolute you would not have used such a namby pamby word like deferring and said flat out, I will stop procrastinating and get all my chores done.

  5. Over my husband’s objections I will continue to trim the 150′ long privit hedge between us and the neighbor’s which by rights is theirs but they never trimmed and it got totally out of control and really butt-uglier than even a maintained privat hedge because their house is for sale and I want the new neighbors to think it is mine so they won’t try to take it out. Whew. Now if the new neighbors want to replace it with something that works as a screen all year or a fence, I am all for it. I guess this is another chore resolution.

  6. I also make my garden beds and compost on top of the soil. However, I first put down a heavy layer of cardboard, or newspaper or brown paper bags (I hoard all of the above to use to keep weeds down!) So far, no cutworms!

  7. Lucy, I didn’t find the alpine strawberries I’ve already planted so great last year…but I have had them when they are great. Too rainy possibly?

    Also, I recently found this link, which offers numerous different varieties and offers opinions on their relative flavor: https://www.thestrawberrystore.com/.

  8. My new years resolution is to become more active with other landscape bloggers. I need to hear what landscapers are doing with their properties and this blog is a nice beginning.

  9. In the SF Bay area, I can use Alpine strawberries for underplanting around anything tall. It’s a mulch AND a dessert topping!

    You do have to plant quite a lot to get enough at one time, it’s true, but they are such easy plants, at least in my area, to care for. Looking around today for places for spring bulbs, I noticed a good many of them may not have had enough water, and may need replacing.

    I think I visited the Stawberry Store earlier this year. I will see what I can afford in March…

    So far, my only garden resolution is to replace my current gardener.

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