You’re yearning for longer—and warmer—days. You’re dreaming of rapidly disappearing snow and ever-greening grass. And you’re chomping at the bit to pull on gloves to help you garden, not keep your fingers warm. Yes, winter may have officially only just begun, but the passing of the Winter Solstice also signals the rapid approach of the New Year. What does 2017 have in store for you and your garden?
As you reflect on gardens of years past and look ahead to growing next year’s flowers, fruits, and vegetables, take a moment or two to peruse the following gardening ideas. Even if (or perhaps especially if) you’re not feeling that gardening “itch” quite yet, we hope you’ll dig in and give them more than a passing glance.
Get a head start on this year’s garden. As you begin to mentally map out your garden space, be sure to also request your free 2017 Seed Savers Exchange catalog (or shop online). And don’t wait too long to order your heirloom, historic, or open-pollinated seeds either—the ideal time to sow spinach, lettuce, peas, carrots, and other cool-season crops is right around the corner in many parts of the country.
Plant an indoor herb garden. Is there any downside to having fresh, fragrant herbs like basil, chives, oregano, sage, and thyme at your fingertips? While your kitchen provides the ideal setting for an indoor herb garden—you can clip and toss the herbs in your favorite dish on demand—herbs will flourish in most any sunny room, and likely make your house more aromatic too.
Give edible landscaping a try. Yes, you can have a spectacular garden and eat it too. Edible landscaping—the practical integration of food plants within a decorative setting—yields fresh fruits and vegetables even as it gives your home environs a fresh look too. Want to learn more? Seed Savers Exchange board member Rosalind Creasy has authored one of the definitive books on this topic.
Involve a child (or children) in your gardening. Nurture that natural enthusiasm children have for digging in the dirt to teach them how their food is grown. This special children’s seed collection—comprising sunflower, popcorn, and other easy-to-grow seeds—can get you started. And while there are no guarantees, it’s likely your young gardeners will be more excited about eating those veggies when they’ve helped grow them too.
Take a gardening workshop. Whether you’re a novice or an expert in the garden, you can always expand your breadth and depth of gardening knowledge. Sign up for any number of workshops at Seed Savers Exchange’s Heritage Farm headquarters. Or, if Decorah is too far of a hike, check out the educational offerings at organizations closer to you that also champion responsible gardening.
Keep a gardening journal. Do you remember exactly when you started those heirloom tomatoes last year? Do you recall when they were ready to be planted in the garden? Probably not—unless you kept a journal. Keeping a gardening journal will help you track garden milestones, including what worked and what didn’t, what you liked and what you didn’t, and what tasted really great (or, let’s be honest, perhaps not so great) when harvested.
Plant something new. We all get into ruts (no pun intended!) in our gardens. Energize your garden—and yourself—by growing something new. Need a few suggestions? This year’s Seed Savers Exchange catalog showcases 13 limited-edition seeds through its 2017 Heritage Farm Collection. Will the Red Surrey carrot, the Swenson Swedish pea, the Banquet squash, or one (or more) of the 10 other seeds in the collection make an appearance in your garden in 2017?
Plant for pollinators. It’s true—luring bees, beetles, and butterflies to your garden pays huge dividends well beyond your garden plot. These and other insects, in fact, play a crucial role in pollinating and fertilizing up to 75 percent of plant species on earth. You can support their hard work by maintaining natural and cultivated habitats where they can nest, reproduce, and forage. You’ll likely also find that they’re incredibly fun to watch too.
Share a seed story. Here at Seed Savers Exchange, we’re fond of saying that every seed has a story because, well, it probably does. But many of those stories have yet to be told, even though they’re an integral part of our country’s gardening and farming heritage. Does your family (or a friend’s family) have an heirloom or open-pollinated seed that’s been diligently stewarded and passed down for generations? Has its history been recorded yet? If not, take a look at these suggestions on how to best jot down its origins and any family folklore that surrounds it.
Save a seed. If you have never saved a seed, make 2017 the year you do. From saving money to preserving genetic diversity, there are many great reasons to save seeds—and Seed Savers Exchange can teach you how. If you’ve already mastered the nuts and bolts of saving seeds but want to gain even more expertise on the topic, check out The Seed Garden: The Art and Practice of Seed Saving, published by Seed Savers Exchange in 2015 and awarded the American Horticultural Society’s Book Award in 2016.