Number One-Focus on Soil Building
I admit that I have been more focused on planting and growing in recent years, than I have been on soil building. Now I am seeing the results, or rather lack of them with dwindling vegetable yields. I know that this is from not making soil building a priority. Part of my excuse has been that I garden on land that is not my own so it would not make sense to make the existing soil better. However, I have decided that in 2018, I am going to focus on this goal by using no cost, but effective methods such as bagging leaves, building a compost bin, using grass cuttings as well as several the bio dynamic methods I have read about.
Number Two-Saving my own Seed instead of Buying Seed
This fall I started experimenting with saving my own seed. I found it fun, economical and easier than I thought. Just one plant can produce enough seed for not only you, but many of your gardening friends. So this year I am going all out. I will be saving more seed next year, and planting any seeds that I did save. I will be sharing some with Caroline to see how it does in her Maine garden.
Number Three- Propagation instead of buying new Plants
This year I am going to divide perennials like hosta and take cuttings from herbs and even roses. Caroline started experimenting with this last year. Even though propagation may take several years before you have a beautiful plant, I think it has many benefits. One of the biggest is that it it is free.
Number Four-Re-cycling or Re-purposing Gardening Items
Instead of buying new items for the garden like expensive containers, I am going to re-cycle items headed for the trash and re-purpose items found on the street. I live in Portland, OR where leaving items out for others is very popular. I have seen extra plants, hoses, containers, BBQ's and all sorts of useful stuff that I can use. One tip I have in this area is that you have to act fast and take the item before someone else does.
Number Five-Being 80% self sufficient with fresh Produce
Last year I grew more annuals because I was tired of the pressure and work involved in growing vegetables. But, I have to admit I missed all the fresh produce from my garden and I enjoy sharing the extras with others. This year I am going all out again and want to be as self sufficient as possible from April through November. That includes growing food for my rabbit ChaCha.
Number Six-More Perennials including Edibles and less annuals
Perennials may initially cost more, but in the long term you are only planting them once and they come back year after year. Some perennial edibles that I have on my list are more rhubarb, strawberries, flowers, herbs and blueberries.
Number Seven-Less Plants and more Plant Research
I plan to make a plant list, do more research on "native varieties" and be more realistic on what space I have and how much time and energy I have to garden. Like others I tend to make a list every year, but then when faced with rows of interesting plants at the nurseries I tend to buy many plants that I have no space for that don't quite fit in with my overall garden plans.