What’s the first thing you plant in your garden every spring? Your feet... Now it’s time to get ready
What’s the first thing you plant in your garden every spring? Your feet.… It’s time to get ready
For gardeners in most parts of Canada, the true start to the new year happens long after the last strains of Auld Lang
Syne have faded away, well past the lunar new year many cultures celebrate in January or February. For we diggers, we hopeful types who scan our melting yards for the first snowdrops, can hardly wait to get out the trowel and bulbs. We look forward to another year of work and pleasure, of diversion and focus, a new start. That is what life in the garden provides — that and a chance to create and nurture something new yet old, familiar yet somehow unexpected. The gardener’s new year begins with each new garden, and the planting decisions we make are our resolutions.
With that in mind, here are several ways to enhance your garden this year, plus a cool way to share it with everyone.
GARDEN GREENLY Our plots provide us with a terrific opportunity to make a difference for the environment. How we cultivate them can be as powerful a gesture as what we grow. By treating lawns and garden beds with compost and other soil enhancements and by mulching garden beds, they retain moisture better and require less water. To learn more about this, as well as companion planting, composting and other environmentally friendly gardening tips, search “green gardening” on the Canadian Wildlife Federation website, cwf-fcf.com.
THINK LOCAL Planting species that are native to your region, that have thrived growing wild forever right where you are, brings tremendous benefits… and less work. Already adapted to local conditions, they need less water and less fertilizer. Hardier and less susceptible to disease and pests, they do not require pesticides and other chemicals. By introducing native plants into your garden, you are also contributing in a larger way. Respecting the local ecology, paying homage to nature right in your own plot, you are connecting yourself to history and to the place we find ourselves.
BE WILD Another advantage to having native plants in your garden is how attractive and beneficial they are to local wildlife. Native plants provide food, shelter and more to embattled local species, some entirely dependent on increasingly rare plant species. And by adding to your garden’s diversity, you can attract a wide variety of wildlife. A combination of trees (deciduous and coniferous, bushes and shrubs, grasses, creepers and vines, and perennials) provides plentiful pollen, fruit, nuts and seeds, as well as shelter for all sorts of birds and mammals. Choose flowering plants for their pollen and nectar to support local pollinators like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. A little research about your local conditions and native species, and you can make a huge difference to the ecosystem. Your garden will be even more of a pleasure for you… and for local wildlife.
GROW A MOVEMENT How about planting a seed in a different way? Try gardening with kids, showing them and sharing the pleasure of growing things. It can be your own children or grandchildren, neighbours’ kids and friends’ kids. You can even look in at the local school and see about opportunities there. There are also volunteer opportunities in local parks, rec centres, gardens and conservatories.
SURPRISE YOURSELF Plant something new and different, perhaps a herb or vegetable you haven’t tried, or a native shrub from which to make tea late in the summer.
TAKE NOTE “This year I will keep a garden journal.” Arguably this is the number one resolution of gardeners everywhere. Inarguably, in our experience it is the resolution least likely to be fulfilled. It can be a lot of work after all; it takes time and commitment. But experienced gardeners will tell you that documenting your garden — what grew well, what didn’t, wildlife sightings, climatic conditions and yields, combined with photos and even clippings — will deepen your gardening experience. It’ll also help you become a better gardener.
SHARE IT. All this documenting will also make it easier to share favourite images and ideas to Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere in social media. While you’re at it, consider registering with the CWF’S Backyard Certification Program. It celebrates the efforts of Canadian gardeners who foster habitat wildlife by officially designating their gardens as wildlife friendly and featuring them on the CWF website.
However you change your garden this year, it is all about timing — not just when to plant your feet in the garden for the first time but all the year-long garden chores — from sowing to pruning, mulching to harvesting. The Canadian Wildlife Federation offers a variety of resources to help you plan, including a full-year growing calendar and gardening e-newsletter, Grow Wild. Visit cwf-fcf.com to learn more.