Good Life

Resolution to plan ahead will yield great ’08 plants

It is really hard for me to believe that it is January 2008. It seems the older I get, the faster the time passes by.

I remember my parents saying all the time, “When you are older, you will see how fast time goes.”

When I was young, it seemed like it took forever between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now I know that they were right about this time thing.

Before we know it, we will be back to working in the garden or at least planting seeds for our vegetable and flower transplants or pruning our small fruit or our apple and other fruit trees.

Before you get started on the 2008 gardening calendar, have you made any New Year’s resolutions concerning your gardens? I know that you probably made others, but what about the garden?

Here are some just in case you didn’t:

u Keep a notebook with all your gardening information. For those who made that commitment last year, I know you are enjoying sitting by the woodstove or fireplace and reviewing your notes on what worked and what didn’t.

You should record the name of each variety and where you purchased your seeds or plants; the date you sowed the seed for your transplants; the date you transplanted or direct-seeded into the garden; what fertilizer or compost you used; what problems you encountered, such as insects, diseases or weeds; what control measures worked in combating these problems; when you watered and how much water you used; the date of first harvest; the date of last harvest; and if you liked the vegetable or the flowers that you planted.

You can record weather information from you rain gauge or your thermometer. Maybe the family gave you a small weather station for Christmas, so you can easily keep track of the weather over the gardening season.

u Check your gardening tools to ensure they are in working order and ready to go for the new year.

The catalogs are full of new tools and equipment for gardeners. It is not too late to replace some worn-out tools or parts with new ones.

How about all those seed and gardening catalogs that you have received or are receiving now? It is fun to look through the catalogs and to see the new varieties of vegetables and flowers and all the beautiful color photos of how the vegetables and flowers will look in 2008.

Those who kept a good notebook on 2007 gardens will know what varieties did well and can order them again. It also is good to try a few new varieties to see if they will perform better than the varieties you already grow. Try some new vegetables or flowers in the garden.

u Make a tentative timetable for this year to help schedule your gardening activities. This is where your 2007 garden notebook will come in handy.

u Order seeds in plenty of time so you’ll be ready to sow the seeds for your transplants or directly in the garden.

By doing some planning and making some resolutions, you are already on the way to a successful garden in 2008.

Bill Lamont is a professor and extension vegetable specialist at the Penn State department of horticulture and can be reached at