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Some tips while planning your garden

SALISBURY — The New Year has arrived and we’re all contemplating how we can improve our landscapes and vegetable gardens. The annual gesture of self-improvement and moderation often becomes a test of one’s will. Below are resolutions for home gardeners for the upcoming year that are easy and are obtainable goals.
Have a plan — Impulse buying and planting without a viable plan can be a problem as a landscape matures. Overgrown plants, improperly spaced plant material, diseased or non-adapted plant material are typical problems associated with impulse planting.
Solicit the help of reputable and qualified nurserymen, an Extension Master Gardener volunteer, commercial landscaper or Cooperative Extension before planting if you have any doubts about your plant material. Look for more gardening information from Cooperative Extension through classes and other media outlets.
Calendars and apps — Label your calendar for gardening chores that must be done and follow them. The window of opportunity for many gardening activities is quite narrow and must be followed in order to have a successful growing season. Keep this calendar handy for quick reference. Take time to file away bits and pieces of useful information on your computer, iPad or tablet you got for Christmas. Keep the files readily accessible to periodically update or delete out-of-date information. Have it close to the “to do” list.
There are more than 100 apps featuring gardening information from beginning gardening to gardens in England. Be aware as information on the Internet can be misleading and downright false. So can some tablet apps. Apps often have information that may be correct but not really applicable to your gardening scenario.
Different varieties — Home vegetable gardeners and flower gardeners often plant the same varieties each season. While it makes sense to “stick with a winner,” there are new varieties of vegetables and flowers that warrant a homeowner trial. All-America Selections have been extensively tested and are generally a good choice, whether it’s a vegetable, fruit or flower selection. Be sure to label new varieties and make notes about growth, development and other pertinent characteristics during the growing season. These notes may be instrumental in selection of next season’s crop.
Maintenance — Take time during the dead of winter when not in use to maintain power equipment. An oil change or tune-up extends the longevity of gasoline powered equipment. Sharpen lawnmower blades to help reduce engine wear, improve the turf’s appearance and reduce the incidence of disease. Sharpen or replace pruner blades. Replace all seals and gaskets in hand pump sprayers now so you will be ready when the pests of spring arrive.

Darrell Blackwelder is the County Extension director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Learn more about Cooperative Extension events and activities on Facebook or at www.rowanextension.com

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