The New Year is here, and the annual gesture of self-improvement and moderation is often a test of one’s will. Aside from desires, home gardeners must also have goals for 2021. When you’re tired of clearing out the closets or watching Hallmark movies, there are some landscaping and gardening goals you should think of for the year ahead.
Have your floor tested – Soil testing is the most overlooked gardening practice that saves time, money and the environment. Over-fertilization with expensive fertilizers is a common problem. Many homeowners advise using amounts of fertilizer and lime for lawns, shrubs and vegetable gardens. The soil test kits and information are available from the Cooperative Extension Center on Old Concord Road. Soil samples can be mailed or mailed directly to NCDA in Raleigh by homeowners for a small postage fee. More information is available at http://www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/sthome.htm.
Do you have a landscape plan – Impulse buying and planting without a workable plan can be a problem as a landscape matures. Overgrown plants, incorrectly distributed plant material, diseased or non-adapted plant material are typical problems associated with impulse planting. Check with reputable and qualified gardeners, commercial landscapers, or cooperative expansion representatives before planting if you are in any doubt about your plant selection.
Start a file with gardening tips and information – Take the time to file useful information. Save it to your computer or the new tablet you received for Christmas. Keep files easily accessible to regularly update or delete outdated information. Keep it near the to-do list.
Plant something else – Home gardeners often plant the same varieties every season. While it makes sense to “stick with a winner,” there are new varieties of vegetables and flowers that warrant a homeowner attempt. All-America Selections have been extensively tested and are generally a good choice whether it is a vegetable, fruit, or flower selection. Be sure to mark new varieties and make notes of growth, development, and other relevant traits during the growing season. These notes can be helpful in choosing next season’s crops.
Prune properly – Many homeowners prune fruit trees, vines, and shrubs because “it’s the time of year for pruning” or because their neighbor is pruning. In short, “Ask yourself why I should circumcise.” Learn more about the basics of pruning. For example, apple trees are pruned into a central leader and peach trees into an open vase shape. Proper pruning techniques increase yield, produce better quality fruit and reduce pesticide sprays. Properly pruned shrubs will produce more flowers and berries. Careful pruning is required for high-quality fruits and healthy shrubs.
Maintain your equipment – If necessary, service the gasoline equipment with an oil change or adjustment. Sharpen lawnmower blades before the spring season. Sharp blades reduce engine wear, improve the appearance of the lawn and reduce the incidence of diseases. Sharpen or replace sharpening blades. This winter, check and replace all seals on hand pump sprayers so you will be ready when the spring pests arrive.
Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticultural operator and director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.