Goshen News, Goshen, IN

October 11, 2013

DIRT ON GARDENING: Now is the time to start planning for next year


— This would be a good time to think about next year’s plantings and gardens. Planning and preparation go a long way when it comes to successful design and plant choices.

Not always, but quite often, beautiful designs and plant choices are derived from something we have seen but improved (in our eyes) by tweaking and changing to suit our liking. This is what makes gardening like art — everyone has his or her individual interpretations and likes.

If it turns out to be a masterpiece and a head-turner then you’ve accomplished your goal. If you’ve reached this goal by creating your own design from your own imagination then you are the master gardener.

The point is, choose the plants and colors that inspire you and that you have researched for sun, shade, height, color, etc., etc.

MASTERPIECES don’t, by any means, have to be huge grand expanses of flower beds. A properly planned small corner garden may be all that is necessary to create a “wow.” Each has its attributes and both are beautiful. Even patio pots can be made to become significant eye-catchers. The sky’s the limit. All one has to do is open a gardening magazine and the variations of potted arrangements are endless.

Create your own quilt garden. It doesn’t have to be grandiose in size, just a slight rise in the landscape can be the perfect spot to design your special statement. A favorite quilt pattern, an American flag, a sport logo, or whatever your heart desires.

AS FOR vegetable gardens, remember what you did wrong this year and improve on this next year by writing down the mistakes.

Maybe you should have started earlier or didn’t include something you would have liked to have.

Small gardens, unfortunately, are limited to only your favorite needs and wants. Choose wisely and don’t “cramp” your limited space. Small seedlings grow large in some cases so what looks like a lot of space turns into cramped quarters when mature.

It was hard for me to visualize a 4-inch zucchini plant turning into a behemoth 3-foot-wide and -tall plant that (with three of them) occupied a third of my garden space. But I wanted them more than anything, so I sacrificed the space. This limited space problem forced me to go upward with my garden by installing fence cylinders for my cucumbers to grow upwards, as well as a 5-foot framework to tie my tomato plants to which kept them from drooping.

A GOOD PRACTICE, if possible, is to rotate crop locations from year to year keeping in mind also the principle of tallest crops to the north to prevent shading smaller crops from the sun. Vegetable gardens require a minimum of six hours of of sun each day, so an open area is an absolute must for ideal growth.

A potting bench is always on someone’s list, so now would be the perfect time for that project as well.

Find some plans on the Internet or in a magazine to your liking and purchase the materials to get started. Again, it doesn’t have to be some grandiose bench but a simple table (preferably with a back-board) that has a hole in it at one end, the size of a plastic bowl, with a “lip” that will prevent it from falling through. The bowl should be deep enough and wide enough so as to not require filling with potting soil for every pot planted — 20 to 24 inches wide and 10 to 12 inches deep.