Thursday, January 30, 2014


My wife and I are spending a couple months in Ohio this winter for some “quality time” with friends and family. As I’m sure you can imagine, I’m already ‘champing at the bit’ to get started gardening. Check out the “snow rolls” that formed on a local lawn-grass “wasteland” in 30-mph winds a few evenings ago.

Thought I would share some plans for 2014 including a few late New Year’s Resolutions. First, I’m planning to give a talk on composting this coming spring, after which I’ll participate in a composting workshop at the MG-SEEDS garden. I seriously doubt that any audience I’ll have will be more attentive or ask better questions than the fifth-grade kids who came to hear my talk at Woodland School near Traverse City last year!  Resolution 1: I will do a better job of “practicing what I preach,” e.g., more carefully sorting out and moving compostable material into locations. (I’ll post dates and times for the events when they’re firmed up.)  Resolution 2: I will update the talk and improve the handout that goes with the events; and I’ll get the handout posted here on the METHODS & MATERIALS page well before the events.

So far this winter, I’ve accomplished only one thing related to gardening: I’ve plowed through a dozen or so garden seed catalogs and web sites, marking dozens of vegetable varieties that look oh, so gorgeous that I just must give them a try. Resolution 3: I will resist temptation to choose based on appearance or to try every new “improvement” that comes along; I will stick mostly with tried-and-true varieties using my own saved seed or that sold by responsible organizations and grown for taste and nutritional value.

Last year, I allowed some of my plants to get too weak and “leggy” because they didn’t receive enough light and weren’t moved outdoors soon enough.  Resolution 4: I will install additional fluorescent lights, and build and use new cold frames to help “harden off” plants more effectively.

Last year, I waited too long to thin several things, including summer squash, carrots, turnips, parsnips, and beets. This made the squash more vulnerable to fungus diseases because of the reduced air flow and sunlight, and it caused many of the root crop plants to produce thin, tough roots.  Resolution 5: I will thin each crop to its recommended spacing as soon as its seed leaves appear.

Oh, I could go on and on, but I need to save SOME mistakes for 2014—that’s how one gains more “experience” with each successive year.