Whenever possible, let others do the seed starting. This is satisfying for two reasons - ready-to-plant seedlings and an excuse to visit and wander around local greenhouses. My wee papoose will join me as I visit Milmont Greenhouses in Stuarts Draft and Shady Lane Greenhouses in Free Union. Both offer heirloom varieties of tomatoes, other vegetables and herbs.
Pare down the container garden. This will be tough. Especially since I get into an irrational tizzy when I see a plant that can be nurtured in a container.
1. Allow small shrubs (boxwoods, arborvitae and dwarf spruces are fun), ivy and vinca to become the backbones of the container garden. Ivy and vinca are too invasive in settings other than a pot.
2. Stay away from multiple, small containers (they need more watering) and focus on the architectural offerings of larger containers.
3. Treat yourself to organic potting soil mix in a bag. Making my own potting soil ain't gonna happen this spring. Nope, it just ain't.
4. Remember the plants that thrive in the heat and a little bit of neglect - the fan flower, marigolds, geraniums, globe amaranth. Because, this year for sure, they *will* be neglected.
Vegetable Gardening - Stick to the No-Brainers. Tomatoes, zucchini, rhubarb, snap peas, green beans, different lettuce varieties, spinach, mustard greens, radishes. With the exception of the tomatoes and rhubarb, these can be started by sprinkling seeds directly into the earth - with some watering and high returns.
Cutting Flower Garden - Stick to the No-Brainers. Zinnias (as many varieties as possible - including Benary's Giant Mix and Sunbow Mix), cosmos, sunflowers, bachelor's button, calendula, nasturtium, love-in-a-mist, salvia, the Prized-Strain mix of sweet peas. These can be sown directly into the soil, as well. With little to-do.
The Herb Garden. I am going to move (most) of my herbs out to a raised bed. Too many of them are fussy in containers and seem to thrive with more soil, air and light. The herbs that like to run rampant (i.e. mints and lemon balm) will stay in large containers on our deck. Plus, they seem to be okay with that whole neglect-thing.
Mulch needs to be easy on the back and light as a feather. No hardwood mulch allowed. Think shredded leaves, pine needles, cardboard, straw. This will also cut back on watering.
Enjoy field trips and visits to nearby gardens. Even if I get out for an hour or two, I always-always-always find this rejuvenating. Through the Garden Gate tours (from the Charlottesville Virginia Cooperative Extension), Albemarle Garden Week, Ted Peter's azalea garden and Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.
Remember the ants! Remember the anthills! Gardening is about contributing to your vision - one plant, one project, one weed-pulled- at-a-time. A seed resulting in an herb or a flower is to be cherished. A tomato plucked from your own garden is a victory - for yourself and for the local food movement. A lesson learned one year is a money and time saver for next year.
And so the cycle of gardening and the gardener goes. Every season will leave you knowing a little bit more, I promise. As for myself, I'm hoping that this upcoming season will teach me even more about the small steps. The small victories. Incremental gardening at its best.
P.S. Don't think I didn't notice that this list is still too long. Ugh. Crap.