A new year brings the opportunity for a fresh start. For a gardener having the year switch in the middle of winter can be difficult. Right now, I am full of ideas and goals as I am once again missing my near-daily commune with soil. If it were in my power to change when we celebrate New Year's, I would suggest March 1.
I can make all the plans in the world, but it's cold outside, so those plans have to wait. And as things that get tossed on the back burner so often do, that is where they remain. As the winter trudges onward we get busy with all the facets of life. What better way to stick with your New Year's resolutions than to share them with all the world! (Actually, research shows when someone tells others of their intentions, they tend not to follow through on them. I'm enlisting you all as my accountable-a-buddy)
- Plant carrots, right now! I learned in 2019 that you can plant carrots in January and get germination. Once we get around to the longer days in late February the carrot seedlings take off and you can get early spring carrots. All you need is some type of season extension device. It could be a low tunnel, cold frame, or high tunnel if you have one.
- Do something about my backyard. I really do like my backyard, but it definitely needs some attention this year. Right now, my proposed plan is to install a dry creek bed to handle excess drainage from around the house and build a very low terrace in my southern landscape bed with natural stone. (Scavenged stone preferably. Have you seen how expensive decent landscape rock can be?)
- Continue to share our bountiful harvest. Each year University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners grow and donate fresh produce to local food pantries. It is an incredible experience! If you want to be a part of improving your community we are offering Master Gardener training in 2019. Get in touch with me or your local Illinois Extension office. They know how to track me down.
- Walk more! If there is one thing my sanity craves, it is to be able to get outside. Sometimes with our modern lifestyles, that just doesn't happen as often. To help encourage us all, University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalists will host a National Trails Day event on June 1. We're still in the planning process on this one, so look for a future article plugging this exciting new event.
- Save the planet! Okay, that may seem like a lot to bite off, but we are facing some serious issues with climate change. To make a difference, everyone is going to need to do something, big or small. My question to you is, how can horticulture and Extension help make our Illinois communities more sustainable. If you'd like to weigh in on this take my survey at https://go.illinois.edu/SustainableSurvey. It is only three questions and should take less than five minutes to complete.
- Never stop learning. This is why I love my job. Once you start down the path of science and nature, you'll realize this is an endless journey and one of the greatest pursuits of humankind. Your local Extension office undoubtedly has opportunities for you to keep on learning. In Macomb, we will be hosting our 23rd annual Gardener's Day on April 6.
Okay, it seems unlikely that New Year's is going to be moved closer to spring. I don't quite have that level of influence as Pope Gregory did in the 1500s when he created the Gregorian calendar. But perhaps Illinois Extension can help you with some of your New Year's resolutions. Check us out online to see what we can offer. https://web.extension.illinois.edu/state
Good Growing Tip of the Week: Carrot seed is tiny and often requires thinning because too much gets sowed. Consider using larger pelleted carrot seed or seed tape to eliminate the need for thinning carrot seedlings.