In 2020, my gardening plans quickly took on a post-apocalyptic survivalist vibe. Like many, I thought, what the heck, I might a well try to grow my own food since the grocery store shelves were bare! Needles to say I would have been long dead if my tiny back yard garden was my only source of sustenance. Nonetheless, starting a garden in a pandemic was a fun adventure! It was a great way to be thrifty: I re-used containers, grew seeds from scraps, and foraged for branches to act as support stakes. This year, my intention is to refine a few areas of my gardening. Here are my five gardening goals for 2021!
For more gardening content see:
- First Year as a Beginner Gardener
- Re-Growing Vegetables from Food Waste
- A Tour of My Vegetable Garden
Go big on flower seeds and sow directly:
Last year I was fairly reserved with the number of seeds that I planted. Lucy and I made the rookie mistake of starting California poppies and rudbeckia seeds indoors. I then had to transplant them several times before they went in outdoor containers. It was painfully time consuming! I also tried to sow a few cosmos and zinnia seeds indoors and had very little success. For the seeds that I did direct sow, I didn’t plant enough and they were ravaged by slugs and snails.
Now that I have the gastropod infestation slightly more under control, my plan is to plant the whole packet of seeds directly and hope that some survive, sacrificing the weak seedlings. We’ve acquired a few packets and bee bombs of wild flower seeds and my intention is to just plant them all, rather than being stingy!
I’m determined to have a forest of sunflowers (that aren’t decimated by snails), cheerful clumps of zinnias and cosmos, and clouds of wildflowers. I will not be defeated by the slimy beasts!
The only caveat to this plan is that I’m going to start my sweet peas indoors again in early March because I think they need extra time to mature before hardening outdoors.
Try something new!
This year I’m going to try to grow cucumbers and kale. I’d also like to purchase a hanging basket of strawberries, and hopefully some summer bulbs/tubers like gladioli and dahlia.
What are you growing this year? Are you trying anything new?
Make space for autumn veg
Another beginner mistake I made last year was thinking that I could direct sow chard and perpetual spinach in late August and that they would over-winter. I didn’t realize that you need to start them in spring with everything else, have them mature all season, and then they can over-winter. I plan to make space for kale, chard, and perpetual spinach.
As I mentioned above, the creation of my vegetable garden in 2020 was a result of lockdown. It was very difficult to get seeds (I was 1500th in an online queue at one point) and some of my seeds didn’t arrive until late April. This year, everything is pretty much ready to go and I have already started my bell peppers, my potatoes are chitting, and I’m growing pea shoots for salads. I’m excited to get sowing in early March! I have tiered plant shelving set up in the spare bedroom to get maximum sunlight while being safe from mischievous Wilbur.
Back to the basics
It’s easy to get carried away with gardening where you want to try everything at once and expect perfect results. There are still some essential aspects of gardening that I need to improve on. These are:
- Figure out soil composition and what works best for specific species. For example, my radishes just don’t grow in pure compost.
- Know my back garden climate. I didn’t know that our backyard was a wind tunnel until I spent £30 on a plastic greenhouse only to turn it into a giant wind sock. This greenhouse did more damage to the plants it was intended to shelter. I also now know the sun/shade patterns and what will grow best where.
- Mulching? I still haven’t figured out what will work best but I know it’s important.
- Consistency. Regular watering and deadheading is key.
- Pest management. As I mentioned, we were infested with snails and slugs and this will be an ongoing battle. I bought organic slug pellets late last summer and they definitely helped. I also need to manage the black spot on the roses with sulphur.
So, there you have it, my five gardening goals for 2021. What are you gardening goals for this year?