This is the year.
Rains will come at just the right times, evenly spaced.
The weather will be neither too hot nor too cold.
Weeds won't be an issue.
Flowers and vegetables will grow large and lush this summer because blights and bugs froze out during the recent cold snap.
Our gardens and flowerbeds will be our best ever.
Believing in the possibility of a great growing season is optimism at its finest. It's probably pointless to make New Year's resolutions based on fickle weather, but there are gardening aspects over which we do have control, and we can resolve to make those things better.
- Relax and enjoy working the soil, planting and pruning. Much of gardening's fun is in the adventure, not just the results. Even weeding can be exciting (or at least tolerable) in the right frame of mind.
- Enjoy watching plantings slowly develop. If we purchase instant beauty, large and full-grown, we miss the pleasure of observing landscapes, planters, trees and flower beds grow at nature's pace. Gardening is a good exercise in patience.
- Garden for others as well as ourselves. This doesn't mean foisting excess zucchini on unwilling neighbors; instead, let's beautify the fronts of our homes for others to notice and enjoy. Liven front entries and yards with colorful flowers, planters and unique shrubs. If we all beautify our doorsteps, our cities will look amazing.
- Take time to garden with children. They'll appreciate nature, learn a lifetime skill and eat more vegetables if they've participated in the growing.
- Adjust your attitude. If yard and garden tasks seem like a lot of work, try changing your outlook so the work becomes enjoyable, bringing happiness instead of weariness. But no hobby is for everyone, and gardening isn't meant to be drudgery. It's OK if it's not someone's cup of tea.
- Use backyard plantings to screen private areas for quiet retreats free from electronic devices.
- Use herbicides judiciously and sparingly. When trees are exposed to fumes and soil penetration of frequent doses of lawn weed killers, toxins can accumulate in tree tissue with potential for irreversible damage. Herbicide-stressed trees become targets of insects and disease.
- Remember that lawns are meant to be the background canvas on which the rest of the landscape is featured. Lawns can be secondary, smaller and less fawned-over.
- Adjust lawn watering schedule. Most lawns are over-watered, causing a shallow-rooted turf dependent on spoon-fed moisture, quick to suffer if the addicted grass doesn't get its water fix. Instead of watering every-other-day, apply one inch per week given in one or two deep waterings to encourage deep root systems.
- Buy local. Locally owned garden centers offer plants and expertise not available at national chains. We need them and they deserve our support.
- Try annual flowers you've never grown before, like cleome, lisianthus or some of the new zinnia varieties.
- Grow some of your own vegetables. Small spaces can yield big harvests. Even patios, decks and balconies become productive gardens as many new varieties are well-suited for pots and planters.
Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, worked as an NDSU Extension horticulturist and owned Kinzler's Greenhouse in Fargo. Readers can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He also blogs at growingtogether.areavoices.com.