Gardening resolutions |

Gardening resolutions

by JoAnne Skelly

For my New Year’s resolution, I plan to approach gardening a bit more deliberately in 2006. For inspiration, I turned to my bookshelves. The first book that caught my eye was, “My Garden Helper Ð What to do each month and How to do it,” circa 1933. The first line read “Gardening is easy. The beauty of it is that you can do the job on as small or as large a scale as you like, from a flower pot to a park.” That works for me. Keep it easy and manageable. I like this old, wise book.

I wondered what it would tell me to guide my January gardening activities. It said to enjoy the beauty of the winter landscape. I can easily do that. It then said to remember to water if it’s dry, read seed catalogs, and draw up garden plans. The watering I can handle, but seed catalogs don’t appeal to me. And, whenever I draw up garden plans, I lose them.

I’m supposed to spray my trees with dormant oil spray, learn all the names of the evergreens in my yard, and begin pruning. If I get really ambitious, I can take hardwood cuttings and propagate more plants to maintain. Now, I’m in trouble. I have never sprayed dormant oil in my 25 years of gardening, and my plants have always been fine without it. I already know the names of my evergreens, so I can cross that chore off my list. I always resolve to prune in winter, but end up taking care of one tree and then lose interest. Plant propagation fascinates me, but I’m not interested in caring for the cuttings for months until they are sturdy enough for planting. Besides, I have no more room in my yard. Where would I put new plants?

I already take care of “my singing neighbors,” the birds, as the book instructs. However, where am I going to get pie crust crumbs to feed “meat-eating birds,” as it suggests? Do I want meat-eating birds? Shades of Alfred Hitchcock.

I like the book’s advice to walk around the garden, but dislike its suggestion to go get rocks for my rock garden from locations where frozen soil will let me drive now. Walking is good; heavy lifting is not.

If there is all this work during the slow gardening month of January, my New Year’s resolution may just go the way other gardening resolutions have gone before.

However, some parts of the book offered dreamy pictures to enjoy as I gaze at the beauty of my sinter landscape: “The entire family will yield to the gardens’ magic touch. After an hour’s work in the garden, father or mother will find appetites enormously quickened, a sense of increased vitality. The youngsters, romping…”

For more gardening information, contact me, 887-2252 or, or your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Check out many useful horticulture publications at “Ask a Master Gardener” by e-mailing

n JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City-Storey County Extension Educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.