Evaluating your garden’s performance
By MARILYN MCKINLEY
OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer
OSU Extension master gardeners have written articles about keeping a garden journal. Was that one of your New Year’s resolutions that somehow never happened? It’s not too late. You can start now.
Were the weeks of planning, planting, weeding, etc. really worth it? What about the cost? I have to admit I am one of those coulda, woulda, shoulda, type of gardeners. But I am determined to do better next year. Here’s my plan.
Step one: Take pictures. I’ll take a notebook pencil and a red pen, too. I’ll tell myself to keep in mind this has not been a “usual” year – whatever that is now. As I am taking pictures, I will make notes about each picture I take. This will probably take me several days to complete.
Step two: Take an objective look at every picture and every note. Here’s how I will evaluate this season’s garden performance. What did very well and what did not? What perennials need to be divided? Are some perennials too short or too tall for their current location? Has the sun exposure changed? Is it time to eliminate some of my perennial favorites? So many have been given to me by friends. I love walking through my gardens and remembering where plants came from. Is there a task that I can do longer physically do, or that is too time consuming?
Have some shrubs or trees grown too close together and need serious pruning? How’s the lawn look, any bare spots? I have some areas that are rock covered, do I need more stone? Where pests were a problem? Any disease issues? Powdery mildew indicates the need for better air circulation, so plants need to be thinned. Was there a deer, chipmunk, ground hog, etc. problem? How about the weather conditions? What new tools do I need? Did my family like the vegetables I planted? Did I plant too much or too little of anything? Should I go vertical? I need to remember to rotate placement of vegetables. What new techniques or ideas I tried worked, were any a complete waste of time and or money? Should I get another soil test?
As winter arrives, customize your list now. It will keep you in order, verses trying to remember this in late winter. Just making a plan was a bit overwhelming for me, but getting started is all it takes to move forward. I need to better organize this whole process.
Step three: Take a step back. Decide what my realistic goals are. I want healthy gardens that do not require much maintenance, and well serve the pollinators I love. This has always been my dream. I feel it is my responsibility. Now is the time to make it happen.