What’s the first thing you plant in your gar­den ev­ery spring? Your feet... Now it’s time to get ready

Canadian Wildlife - - NEWS - By Staff

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,

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 to learn more.

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