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Kick-off Time

I’m not much for making New Year’s resolutions. I like to set goals and one of my goals for 2018 is to indulge my love of communication. I have chosen to blog about the ups and downs of a life led outdoors in our northern climate. Every year at the end of January we start to get a little stir crazy. I’m not sure if is totally the weather (my wife would say it absolutely is the weather and lack of sunlight), but days of bitter cold temps and wind chills certainly don’t inspire me to get outside for work or play.

There are things we can do both inside and out at this time of year that will benefit our yards and gardens come spring. Let’s start with the inside things and maybe by the time I get to the outdoor things, it will warm up a bit (wind chill warning -20 as I write this). You should have all of your seed catalogs by now; if you don’t there are many websites that give you the opportunity to see all of the new plant varieties that are being released for 2018. I would suggest that you try at least 1 new plant or a new combination of plants for your gardens or pots this spring.

We love trying new plants and discovering if they stand up to the hype or not. Once you have decided on what you want to plant you need to think about the where you will plant them. I suggest poking your head out into the garage or shed where you store your containers from year to year and take stock of what you have; there is a good chance that you may be in need of some new containers and most certainly some new soil for the containers you plan to use this spring.

There are many choices when it comes to soil, the most important thing to remember is that even the best quality starter plants won’t do well in poor quality soil. Look for soils that have a loose texture and are made up of peat, vermiculite, composted organic matter and other quality ingredients. Avoid soils that are heavy and clumpy. You spend a lot of time and money on your plants. Don’t go cheap on the most important piece; the age old adage of “you get what you pay for” is certainly true with soil.

After you have made your lists of plants, containers and soil you are now ready to start planning what you are going to put into the gardens for this year. One of my favorite things the past few winters is to plan what varieties of pumpkins, squash, and gourds to plant on the farm. Every year there seems to be new varieties and we have to try at least 1 or 2. Decide what you want to plant and then figure out how much space you will need, this will keep you from overbuying seed or plants when that time comes.

How well did your garden produce last year? Were your flowers and vegetables a disappointment? You may need to amend your soil. Take a soil sample and send it to the U of M and for a nominal fee you will get all of the information that you need to fix any issues that you may have in your soil. It is supposed to warm up a little next week so I think I will save the outdoor garden chores for next week’s blog. Try and stay warm and get busy planning.

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