In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
December, 2003
Regional Report

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I resolve to keep my birdbath clean next year!

My Resolutions for 2004

Even gardeners, as perfect as we are, need to make New Year's resolutions. Mine typically last through the first three weeks of January in a good year, but I've thought about it long and hard and I think I've come up with a few gardening resolutions that I will be able to keep.

For the Birds
I will clean my birdbath every week. I'm frankly tired of feeling guilty when I look out and see a very long-legged female cardinal in the middle of the bath staring at me accusingly because she actually has normal legs and is standing on the algae that has accumulated.

For My Seedlings
I will hang fluorescent lights for starting seeds. I resolve not to let my windowsills be taken over with stretching seedlings this year. This year I will have short, stocky, rich green tomato plants that look like they can take anything Mother Nature dishes out.

I will not plant all of my tomato seedlings. I will pick the four best of each variety and discard or give away the rest so I don't have five bushels to make into sauce during the heat of August. Besides, who eats that much spaghetti, anyway? (Okay, maybe I'll put just a few plants in a quiet corner of the cold frame to see if they do better than the others or just in case we have a freak hail storm that kills all the ones I plant in the garden beds).

For My Skin
I will wear my garden hat. I have a great hat and fixed it up with a handy tie to hold it on my head last year. Too often, though, I just step into the garden to look around for a minute and end up with dirty hands and a sunburned nose. Besides, hats give a gardener character, and I could always use a little more character.

For My Plants
I will check my slug traps every night. I know I can get them under control if I don't give up on it early in the season. By July, when I'm sick of slimy fingers and it feels like I'm losing the battle, I will try to keep the attitude that they are personally insulting me by eating my hostas. That way I'll keep squashing until I get rid of every last one.

For My Husband
I will make a point to harvest herbs throughout the season for drying. My husband doesn't think it is very amusing when I make a mad scramble in late September before the first frost to gather bushels of dill, tarragon, and sage. Of course, it then has to be washed and laid out on the kitchen table and counters to dry before being paper bagged for the rest of the drying process.

For Myself
Most of all, I will spend an extra half hour or so just sitting and watching what's going on in the garden. Instead of running to water or weed and then dashing off to something else, I will sit for a few moments and soak in the whole garden. I'll get to know the birds and beasts that inhabit the place and perhaps become a better gardener.

And just in case my resolve begins to fade, I've thrown in a few resolutions that I know I can keep -- I will enjoy my garden, savor its produce, and expand my perennial border. Happy Holidays!


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