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Resolutions for gardeners: Have more fun

Tips to help make 2023 your best gardening year

Resolve to bring more pollinators into your garden with plants such as lavender.

Resolve to bring more pollinators into your garden with plants such as lavender.

Kathy Morrison

Happy new year! Now what?

These past 12 months have been challenging for our gardens – something we can say about all drought years. How can we make 2023 better? Be prepared. Plan ahead. Have more fun.

We can’t control the weather (if we could, we would). But as we get drenched by an atmospheric river to close out 2022, our prospects for a “normal” water year at least look promising.

We thought the same thing last December when heavy rain brought declarations that our drought days were over. Then, we experienced the driest spring in Sacramento history.

Tradition dictates that it’s time to look ahead with resolve. But to do what? For us gardeners, these simple resolutions will make our lives easier and help our gardens thrive – no matter the weather.

1. Take notes. Be observant and write down what you see. Your landscape is changing. (Trees and shrubs grow; sunny spaces turn to shade.) You may need to make adjustments. Also, note what varieties did well, which didn’t. (This is key to veggie success.)

2. Use a calendar. Paper or digital, calendars are handy for jotting down those notes and keeping track of dates. For example, when did you plant seeds or transplants? When did you harvest your first tomato? You can refer to those dates later when making decisions about next season. (Tip: Get a master gardener calendar; it comes packed with monthly reminders.)

3. Do things at the right time. Plant, prune, fertilize, harvest; gardening is all about timing. For example, plants need important nutrients at critical steps in their development. Figure out in advance when you should feed certain plants (and mark it on that calendar!)

4. Install a smart controller and upgrade irrigation. Never have your sprinklers come on again during a storm. If you haven’t done this yet, now is the time. Water providers have rebates available for upgrading your irrigation technology. It will make your life simpler (and save water and money, too). For rebates:

5. Invite wildlife into your garden and enjoy the show. Plant nectar- and pollen-filled flowers that hummingbirds, bees and butterflies love. Other birds like berries and seeds; they appreciate bushes that provide them a feast. Make them feel at home, too. Besides plants, provide a bird feeder, bird bath or bee house. For yourself, put a comfortable chair or bench in a spot where you can watch the antics of visiting winged friends. It’s a sure way to get more fun out of your garden space.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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