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Gardening resolutions for 2013

The beginning of the year is a good time to do forward thinking about your life, your finances, and — maybe even more appropriate — your garden. Since there's very little most of us in Zone 3 can do right now to screw up a frozen garden, a little planning now can pay off when spring comes. Can't say the same about other life decisions.

So, while I never make resolutions to lose weight or read more fiction, I am making a list of pledges for the 2013 garden. Here's my list:

1) Do more planning and documentation. (Or, at least do some planning and documentation.)

In the past, I've just gotten dirty, planting almost all my seeds on a single day, and then forgetting what I planted and where it was sown. I ended up sowing a few plants too close together, while at the same time missing a few spots in one of the beds that could have been productive.

So, this year, I'm going to be hyper-organized. I'll start with a grid, laid out both on paper and in the garden, with an "A-B-C ... 1-2-3..." format (sort of a horticultural "Battleship" game). So, I'll know, for example, which row has the lettuce and which the spinach. I've yet to figure out how to put permanent markings on my raised beds, but I've got some time to come up with a system.

I'll also keep better track of succession plantings on my paper version of the grid. That way, I won't end up with too much lettuce or daikon radishes all at the same time. (In fact, I'm thinking of skipping the daikons altogether this year; they weren't such a big hit last year.)

2) Try new things.

This year, I'm planning to try some beets, snow peas and pok choi. I like each of these and I think they should do well in this climate. I'm making room for them by cutting back on my tomatoes a bit, dropping the daikons, and through the use of the planning grid, which will identify all possible areas for productive planting. I may even cut back a little on the delicata squash I love so much, since it takes over so much of my garden, but I'll try to deal with that better with my next resolution, which is ...

3) Do more vertical gardening.

I've got to do a better job of trellising my cucumbers, squash, beans and peas. Last year, I tried to build some trellises out of spare fencing material and some scrap lumber. The results were not pretty and proved less effective than they need to be. So, this year, I'm going to bite the bullet and purchase some items that should not only work better, but should also last several seasons. Since my 236 square foot garden is still smaller than my dreams, I have to make more room available in the dirt for planting. And, that leads right into my next resolution ...

4) Plant an extra seed.

Last season, I ended up harvesting so many things at one time that we couldn't eat everything or even find room in the freezer for it. And, because Mrs. Zone3 didn't keep up with her 2012 resolution to learn everything there is to know about canning, a lot of the tomatoes and beans that we didn't give away to neighbors went into the compost pile. 

That's not going to happen this year. In fact, I'm resolving to plant a little extra this year and donate it to our area food bank in Duluth, the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank.  They've assured me they have a demand for fresh produce. I'm asking my neighbors who are serious veggie gardeners to join me, so we can share in the transportation and provide sufficient quantity each week or two of the gardening season to justify the trip into Duluth for delivery.

If you have a food bank in your area, I'd encourage you to do the same. Second Harvest says they welcome produce donations, particularly of the common vegetables most people are familiar with. So, if you're donating something unusual, you might want to include a description of it and a recipe to help the inexperienced person prepare it for the table.

So ... what's on your list of 2013 gardening resolutions?


Posted: January 2, 2013



Hi there! I have never tried gardening at such a high elevation.. and I look forward to the challenge this year. Is there any chance of growing greens (salad and otherwise) in this region? I will be at 7500 feet. When do you usually plant and when are the seasons designated? I am used to long growing seasons.. so I got a little scared when I saw the last freeze date was July11 and the first is August11 where I will be. But finding your blog brought new hope to me!! If you have time, I'd love to correspond and brainstorm with you. Thank you for all you do!


Salad greens like lettuces and spinach are a good choice for short growing seasons, since they don't need (or even like) hot temperatures and don't require a lot of sunlight. If you keep them from breaking after freezing, you can sustain them over a long period of late fall and even winter (under some cover).