5 New Year’s Resolutions To Get a Jump-Start on the Garden

by | Jan 3, 2019 | Headline News | 24 comments

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    This article was originally published at Tess Pennington’s ReadyNutrition.com

    Tess is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint: How To Survive ANY Disaster

    While we welcome in a new year, I like to take some time to reflect on the past and start dreaming of a better future. And, of course, I implement this into my gardening as well. While I have the best intentions to have a thriving garden, sometimes mistakes are made. These mistakes, although innocently made, caused me to be more mindful of my gardening habits and I’ve grown into a better gardener from them.

    A new year is a fresh start. The slate has been wiped clean and you can put your best foot – or green thumb- forward! Before you put in your next garden, it’s important to think about the goals you have for the coming growing season. And, now with the new year, comes new garden resolutions!

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    5 New Year’s Resolutions To Get a Jump-Start on the Garden

    1. I promise to give my organic garden what it needs to prosper. For those interested in creating biodiversity in their future garden, you must start with the soil. Homemade fertilizers can be made using items you would normally toss in the wastebasket. Items like egg shells, banana peels, and used coffee grounds are perfect for making a nutrient-rich, full spectrum fertilizer that will slowly release the nutrients to the soil. Best of all, it’s so easy to make and use 10 readily available materials you would otherwise throw away. Another way to help your garden grow is by adding a compost bin to the garden. This is a great way to make use of brown and green items full of nitrogen and carbon-rich materials.
    2. I pledge to only use non-GMO seeds. It should be emphasized that if a person is purchasing seeds for long-term sustainability, then the seeds purchased should be non-hybrid (non-GMO) and heirloom quality. These types of seeds will produce fertile seeds that can be stored for future harvests. As well, consider only using organic fertilizers to ensure your plants are getting the best nutrients nature can provide.
    3. I’m going to make a garden plan and stick with it. To have a successful garden, you need a plan of action! Each year, I like to start by making a list of plants I want to grow. This helps me map out how much food I plan on growing for my family. Then, I research which plants can be planted in close proximity (i.e., lettuce, bunching onions, spinach) as opposed to those plants that need lots of space (pumpkins and melons) and then check to see which vegetables and fruits are companions to one another. Once I have researched, I start drawing out how my garden will look. This helps me stay on target for the space I allow the plants when I actually start planting my young plants.
    4. I’m going to start my seeds early. Rather than going to the garden center and paying an arm and leg for pre-grown plants, start early and grow your own. Check when your optimum growing time is for where you are located and begin around that time. You can also get a head start by making your own seed starting mix. This will not only save you money but also give your plants the best chance at growing hearty roots. The key to making a healthy seed starting mix is light, well-screened materials to promote root growth. By doing so ensures that the mix doesn’t compact in small seed starting cells/containers. Good moisture retention and drainage are also important considerations to keep in mind. Soils that are too moist can lead to damping off which causes pathogens to grow and kills or weaken seeds or seedlings before or after they germinate. Seeds need perfect growing conditions to grow healthy: water – allows the seed to swell up and the embryo to start growing, oxygen – so that energy can be released for germination, and warmth – germination improves as temperature rises.
    5. I promise to grow my seeds over winter to give them the best chance of growing. Choose your seeds carefully and in the coming months, many of you will begin the early stages of your gardening adventures by starting your seeds. Since the weather outside is still on the dreary side, this is the best time to get a head start on your future garden by starting the seeds indoors. Doing so results in earlier and longer harvests. This economic gardening method doesn’t require special equipment – just some moist soil, comfortable temperatures, and some TLC! Starting longer growing varieties like herbs, broccoli, cauliflower, and onions can greatly benefit from indoor growing methods. This gives the gardener a head start and helps to control the growing environment.

    These resolutions will no doubt inspire you to get into that gardening frame of mind and get growing! Some other garden goals you can add to your New Year’s Garden Resolutions are to take a gardening class in the spring, add some fruit trees to your garden, or encourage beneficial insects and birds to feel welcome by adding bird baths and flowers like coneflowers, roses, lavender.

    Happy New Year, Friends!

    The Prepper's Blueprint

    Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

    Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

    Visit her website at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.


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      1. Anyone using an EBT card can purchase seeds and transplants by authorized retailers. That practice goes back to the Great Depression. Once Victory Gardens were standard during WW2 and these especially helped the UK due to severe rationing. Having a pig was common.

        In every state are licensed master gardeners who earned that accredidation and who volunteer to mentor beginners. Some of you might be excellent in either role as teachers or students.

        It’s crazy to reinvent the wheel when you can learn from a wise gardener’s mistakes. Keep a journal.

        Even now you can test your soil. If you can’t afford a soil test kit, there typically is a local office that will provide a means if testing your soil but will take a little time. Ask a neighbor if they will test your soil as most gardeners have a kit.

      2. Beginners often mess up starting seeds into transplants. The soil for the seedlings is not warm enough and or the light is inadequate and they get “leggy” ie spindly looking so they will not make adequate transplants. Ask a gardener how they do it SPECIFICALLY to avoid these errors. Emulate what they do.

        Don’t plant too many squash plants unless you plan on having it daily when it starts coming in and one can ony eat so much zuchini bread. Pick the veggies early and often so they don’t get “woody”.

        Pinch your brocoli plants so instead of an aesthetically pleasing “bunch”, instead you get “sideshoots”. Don’t forget cabbage plants need “side dressing” of fertilizer.

        Volunteer to help canning a neighbor’s produce if you don’t know how. Then emulate their techniques. Dehydrating is better for most due to inadequate shelf space. In fact, plan and build shelf space NOW and do it yourself. Acquaint yourself with the various methods and inexpensive fasteners and mounting gear based upon how your walls are constructed. Anyone with a lick of common sense can do this.

        • And plan your shelving carefully. Use plywood or steel shelving for canning jars full of food. The weight can bring down plastic or wire shelving, and thats a mistake I wouldn’t want to see anyone make.

      3. I resolve to learn how and start a potato garden this year!

        They say it’s the second easiest crop to grow (Onions was the No. 1 answer) and can be grown inconspicuously!

        • The original straw bale potato method was published way back in the early eighties in Mother Earth News. The idea was that it both reduced digging and accidental piercing by a garden fork when uncovering them. Straw is better than hay due to seeds.This mulching method then reduced weeds and required less water.

          You have to watch for mice, voles, or gophers etc because it means they can feast versus digging for them.

          Some people have clay soil and their carrots fork due to the difficulty with root crops. River sand busts up the clods and improves any root growth. Some people plant carrots in loose soil in plastic pipes for this reason to get the best specimens.

          I’ve always wanted to grow peanuts but that really takes a very warm climate and some gardeners surround the soil with small chicken wire to cut down on the thievery of rodents. Others plant them in containers.

          • This is the Mexican potato tower method which also uses hay.
            htt ps://www.homemadefoodjunkie.com/easy-diy-potato-towers/

          • My brother has planted peanuts here in central Indiana for years. They do very well. He has planted many different varieties, mostly heirloom. The worst thing he says is the rabbits. They love the peanut plants. And the second worst is the digging, cleaning and drying. Lots of work, but well worth the effort, he says. I planted my first last year, just a little 10 foot row. Quite enjoyable eating your own peanuts. When roasting them, I had to be very careful. They burn quite easily, I know, because I burned the 1st 50-75 I roasted.

            • I grew peanuts out in the “back 40” when I lived in Michigan. They were tasty and wished I’d planted more.

              Here’s a Mother Earth News link: ht tps://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/how-to-grow-peanuts-zmaz02djzgoe

              • Wow in Michigan? They take so long to come to harvest (4-5 months) and generally require very warm soil. That’s quite an accomplishment.

                • There are a few short season varieties of peanuts just like there are some of melons. I was also growing roses at the time so if there was a frost danger, they’d be covered just like the roses or any other tender thing. My garden tended to look like aliens had landed with upside down buckets and plastic tarps all over. Of course, at dawn I was dashing out to pull off all the protections to avoid things getting roasted by sunshine.

                  • You impress me.

      4. I don’t buy any seeds or plants anymore. The seedlings grow in the compost pile. I dig them up carefully and transplant them to the garden. I can look at them and tell what they are. Works like a charm. Got tired of buying and wanted free. As long as you use airloom plants they will come back year after year. Potatoes leftover from the year before go back into the ground plant with the eye up and your good. When the green shoots fall over and turn yellow you can dig them up. I store my taters in a wooden box I made from pallet wood in the basement in the cool dark corner. Still eating them. Never tested soil ever don’t care for all that. Rabbit manure in the compost pile seems to work great. gardening is so simple and free only a fool would buy produce.

        • When seedlings come up naturally in Kentucky, we call those “volunteers”. Some people cover their compost with black plastic in the hot sun to accelerate the decomposition/transformation. Or they transfer the compost to a black plastic barrel and turn it for the same effect. This then kills the seeds.

        • Rabbit manure is supposed to be the very best for a garden. Some folks use that for riasing worms too.

          Honestly testing the soil is about initially getting the pH right as many beginning preppers are in suburban lots on the edges of towns and cities and their homes are on “spent” farmland ie often abused by older agricultural practices. Hardpan is common ie the fertilizer was chemical and liberally applied such that a hard layer exists that makes root development stunted. This is why you plant rapeseed (canola) or buckwheat to bust that up.

          If you don’t know your soil’s pH and just willynilly add soil amenities, you could adjust it the wrong way and get er out of whack. Once you get it in range, then you’re trying to keep it in range based on what is growing there as some plants improve the soil and others deplete the soil. It’s like the directions for tying your shoes…ie the written instructions are more complicated than actualy doing it.

      5. this is prime gardening season in S. Fl and mine is particularly beautiful and productive this year.

      6. Hmmm. I love boiled peanuts which is something the Native Americans do like the Cherokee. Maybe I’ll give it a whirl? I wonder if that’s not a good way to trap game too? Maybe plant some in another area just to attract wild game and keep those rascals out of the garden.

        Chipmunks are cute. You really can’t get mad at those critters.

      7. I just want to point out something rather relevant. While vegetables are essential to proper nutrition, most have very few calories.

        In a SHTF situation you’ll need lots and lots of calories. An average head of lettuce has about 10 calories. TEN. You’ll burn more calories than that just chewing it.

        So I guess it’s all about potatoes, potatoes and more potatoes.

        Did I spell that right ?

      8. This is basically why human beings stopped being hunter gatherers and switched to growing crops and raising livestock. Whatever you expend looking for calories, and then harvesting it,then preparing it, then digesting it…can be a net loss as many starving tribes found out in history.

        This point is hammered over and over into the thick skulls of soldiers in SERE training. Whatever you waste time eating is largely a psychological boost to morale unless it’s MEAT with fat especially.

        Old school bushcraft mentors would illustrate this by some poor fool fishing and catching fish but who ended up starving to death based on the low amount of calories.

        Grains saved lives as did beans and legumes. You look for sugar sources otherwise you get hypoglycemic and pass out.

        • Here’s a re-run of my earlier reply that appears to be stuck in the ether. Sorry if it ends up appearing twice.

          Winter Sowing. Yes, nearly anyone can do it; snow is optional.

          Here are some links to get an idea of it:
          ht tps://104homestead.com/winter-sow/
          ht tps://www.agardenforthehouse.com/2012/01/what-to-winter-sow-and-when/
          ht tp://wintersown.org/Start_to_Finish.html

          And a guide for zones 3-7: ht tps://104homestead.com/winter-sowing-by-zone/

          I’d like to try it because it relieves me of the worry of seedlings getting chomped by the resident critter. Can’t do the south side because HOA would doubtless be upset with various containers decorating the front yard and I’d worry about the people mischief factor. However, my back yard is fenced in and while no sun will be there for another few weeks, any containers won’t be bothered unless squirrels or birds break into them.

      9. Winter Sowing. Yes, nearly anyone can do it; snow is optional.

        Here are some links to get an idea of it:
        ht tps://104homestead.com/winter-sow/
        ht tps://www.agardenforthehouse.com/2012/01/what-to-winter-sow-and-when/
        ht tp://wintersown.org/Start_to_Finish.html

        And a guide for zones 3-7: https://104homestead.com/winter-sowing-by-zone/

        I’d like to try it because it relieves me of the worry of seedlings getting chomped by the resident critter. Can’t do the south side because HOA would doubtless be upset with various containers decorating the front yard and I’d worry about the people mischief factor. However, my back yard is fenced in and while no sun will be there for another few weeks, any containers won’t be bothered unless squirrels or birds break into them.

      10. I’m curious how many pinch/train their tomatoes? Mother Earth News used to publish photos of how massive these plants can get when you do that versus the standard method. I’m also wondering if it’s worth it for better yields?

        Like these that are touching the top of the greenhouse.
        htt ps://surfinghydrangea.com/tomato-training-101-2071

        • ht tp://www.theblissfulgardeners.com/fruit/tomatomania/
          Some will use a wire trellis to cope.

        • That was a very good question. I’ve never done that so I had to go look. And found this: ht tps://www.gardenguides.com/97052-pinch-back-tomato-plant.html

          It seems pinching back is a bit different on determinate and indeterminate tomato plants. My preference has been for indeterminate types.

          Also, here’s another site all about the “dirt” on tomatoes.
          ht tp://www.tomatodirt.com/pruning-tomato.html There are loads of details on that site.

          Great links you posted. Thanks!

      11. Apartment/Townhouse dwellers don’t have to be left out of the game. Containers on your patio work, and microgreens & pump-free “Kratky” hydroponics indoors work, too. You can make arrangements with friends for swapping microgreens for the bigger outdoor stuff. I swap sunflower microgreens with my daughter who has citrus trees. She doesn’t really like my container kale, though, LOL.

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