Well, here we are in the first week of the new year, and that means it’s time to work on our gardening resolutions. You know we all have them or should have them because none of us is a perfect gardener. And even if we were, there’s always the weather and heat to keep us humble. So, it’s time to write down some of the things we want to either start doing, stop doing or hope to do better in the garden this year.
For me, one is going to be to decrease the size of my vegetable garden and increase the size of my herb garden. It’s time for me to accept the fact that our yard just doesn’t get enough sun to properly grow most vegetables. This fact became obvious this year when the Tulsa Master Gardeners started our Seed to Supper Farm. We have almost two acres of land at the OSU Mingo Valley Research Station where we grow food to distribute to local food pantries. Our best guess is that we grew and donated somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds of produce this past growing season.
People are also reading…
Scene Writers Jimmie Tramel, James Watts and Grace Wood share some of their most memorable stories of the past year.
While my tomato plants were struggling and scrawny at home, our tomato plants on the farm were robust. This just helped make it obvious that I am a literal Sisyphus when it comes to growing vegetables where we live. Plus, it’s always great to be able to walk out to the garden and gather fresh herbs for cooking. I also make a mean strawberry-lavender ice cream, and fresh lavender always makes it better. All this to say, the new year is a good time to make some decisions. So, here are some ideas that might resonate with you on what you might do differently in the coming year.
Get a soil test
On one hand, it’s easy to say, “I don’t need to get my soil tested. I just use a balanced fertilizer when I think I need it.” On the surface, that sounds like a reasonable strategy, but the problem is that there is no way for you to know what your soil needs without getting a soil test. In most cases, area soils have adequate phosphorus and potassium. So, if that is your situation, adding additional phosphorus and potassium contained in a well-balanced fertilizer could be diminishing the quality of your soil.
Soil tests are easy. You just gather a sample from the area you want tested, bring it to the Tulsa County OSU Extension office, pay the obligatory $10 and in a couple of weeks, you’ll know exactly where you stand with nutrients in your soil. Plus, you’ll get a recommendation on what you need to do to improve your soil. See more at tulsamastergardeners.org.
Composting is a great way to not only repurpose your food waste and other compostables, but compost helps add nutrients, micro-nutrients and organic matter back into your soil. I finally started composting earlier this year, and it’s not that difficult. You can purchase a small, outdoor, rotatable composting bin or just make something out of concrete blocks or used pallets in the backyard. Composting will take a little effort and a slight learning curve, but once you get it, you’ll not only be reducing the amount of waste you put out for the trash, but you’ll also be helping your soil as well. Again, we have info about composting on our website.
Plant something just for the pollinators
We love our flowers, and it’s great fun to enjoy watching a variety of pollinators move around the garden from flower to flower. But, do you know the best way to attract pollinators to your garden? Plant something they will seek out as a home for their babies. For example, dill and milkweed are great for this.
Now, the dill and milkweed are not as showy as some flowers, but remember, you are planting these to serve as food for pollinator larvae rather than for their abundance of flowers. Swallowtail butterflies love to deposit their eggs on dill. This past year, we planted some dill in our Seed to Supper Farm, and there was hardly a day it wasn’t covered in pollinators. Plus, when the timing was right, it was hard to miss the swallowtail caterpillars devouring the dill plants.
Milkweed is the plant monarch butterflies search out to serve as a host for their eggs. There are quite a few varieties depending on what type of flowers you might like in your garden. So, if you would like to not only help the monarchs in their yearly migrations through our area, as well as get to see more monarch butterflies in your landscape, plant some milkweed. We always have dill and milkweed in our spring plant sale, so be sure to check that out.
Put a puddler in your garden
A puddler is a small, shallow, water-filled bowl similar to a bird bath but specifically for pollinators. Puddlers don’t have to be fancy and don’t need to be as big or deep as a bird bath. In addition, you should put some small rocks in the puddler so the insects will have a place to stand while getting a drink. Be creative. It’s another way to make your landscape pollinator-friendly.
Well, there’s a few ideas to help get you started. Thanks for reading our articles and we look forward to our time together in 2023. See you in the garden!
You can get answers to all your gardening questions by calling the Tulsa Master Gardeners Help Line at 918-746-3701, dropping by our Diagnostic Center at 4116 E. 15th St. or by emailing us at email@example.com.
Make your house a home
For the holidays: Get inspiring home and gift ideas – sign up now!