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SOUTHERN GARDENING: Reflect and make plans for new gardening year

Healthy soil is the foundation for a thriving garden; be sure to conduct a soil test to assess its composition and nutrient levels. (Photo by MSU Extension/Kevin Hudson)

By Eddie Smith
MSU Extension Service

As we embark on a new year, gardeners and plant enthusiasts alike are gearing up for a fresh season of growth, color, and the promise of a bountiful harvest.

Whether you’re a seasoned green-thumb gardener or a novice with dreams of a flourishing garden, the new year is the perfect time to sow the seeds of your botanical aspirations. Let’s explore essential tips and resolutions to help you cultivate a vibrant and thriving garden in the coming months.

Before you plunge hands first into the soil, take a moment to reflect on your successes and challenges of the past growing season. Consider what worked well and what could be improved.
Use this reflection as a foundation for your gardening resolutions and plans for the new year.

What do you hope to achieve with your garden this year? Whether it’s enhancing curb appeal, growing your own vegetables, creating a haven for pollinators, or simply enjoying a more colorful landscape, clearly define your goals. Setting specific objectives will guide your plant choices and gardening activities.

I always like to make the new year an opportunity to diversify my garden.

If you feel like trying something new, explore new plant varieties, colors, and textures to add interest and complexity to your outdoor space. Consider incorporating native plants that are well-suited to your region. This promotes biodiversity and supports the local ecosystems.

Another preparation to make is to develop a planting calendar tailored to your local climate and growing zone.
Research the optimal times for planting different types of plants, considering frost dates, temperature fluctuations, and seasonal changes. This strategic approach makes it possible for you to create a garden that remains in a constant state of bloom and productivity.

Healthy soil is the foundation for a thriving garden; be sure to conduct a soil test to assess its composition and nutrient levels.

Based on the results, amend your soil with nutrients and organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. Healthy soil provides the necessary nutrients and structure for plants to flourish.
Consider making a commitment to incorporate some sustainable practices in your garden. You can reduce your environmental footprint by composting kitchen and garden waste, using organic fertilizers or minimizing the use of chemical pesticides.

These steps can help you create a garden that not only flourishes aesthetically, but also harmonizes with the natural ecosystem.

Gardening is a journey of continuous learning. Dedicate time to expand your horticultural knowledge through books, online resources, and local gardening events. Stay informed about new gardening techniques, plant varieties, and sustainable practices. This allows you to evolve as a knowledgeable and skilled gardener.

Remember the Mississippi State University Extension Service has offices in every county and staff to assist you in becoming a successful gardener. Visit your local Extension office to see what resources are available to you.

I truly believe that with thoughtful planning, sustainable practices, and a spirit of continuous learning, you’ll cultivate a garden that not only thrives in the new year but also brings joy and fulfillment every season.

Dr. Eddie Smith is a gardening specialist and Pearl River County coordinator with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. He is also host of the popular Southern Gardening television program.