Passing of an old year alerts most folks to the possibility of “better things to come.” Perhaps this year’s pandemic will lead to resolutions about personal health. It might also suggest the opportunity to consider the health of landscapes and gardens.

“Resolution gurus” are likely to suggest that a few goals that are likely to be pursued are better than a long list of intentions. For those who are list makers, the satisfaction of crossing out a task or adding a check mark may be sufficient motivation. More concrete evidence may be needed by others.

If you’re in the “show me” category, a great first task might be making a photographic inventory of your home and landscape, so that you have a record of “before” appearance. Improvements might be that much more encouraging if you retain a record of previous conditions for reference. If you’ve already made changes to a new residence and don’t have “before” pictures, check one of the real estate websites. Homes purchased in last five or more years are likely to have “historic” photos that can encourage by evidence of improvements made and motivate continued efforts.

Most garden and landscape projects require more than a single chore. Outlining a plan which sequences the tasks, in order, may contribute to confidence and reduce the anxiety of uncertainty. Most jobs seem more feasible when there’s a plan in place.

Several years ago, Mary Carol Sheffield, Administration Agriculture and Natural Resources agent and coordinator for the University of Georgia Extension in Paulding County offered some New Year’s goals for her garden. Consider how her ideas or a modification might be helpful for your property. You might preface each comment with, “In 2021 I will:”

• Keep a garden notebook. I’m not good at journaling, but if I think of it as data collection that makes it a little easier for me. I will record weather data, including the date of the last frost, amount of rain that collects in my rain gauge after that afternoon shower and daily temperatures. I will also include my planting dates for when I start seeds and a map of my vegetable garden plot.

Spend at least 10 minutes each day, scouting my beds for insects, diseases and weeds, and take preventative measures to help reduce problems with these pesky garden visitors.

Keep a list of the plants I put in my garden and record their sources, the date I purchased them and the date they get planted.

Plant a few new varieties in my vegetable garden, along with the tried and true varieties that always produce well in my area.

As you are contemplating projects for the year to come, consider these reminders for January from UGA Extension circular 943 — "Vegetable Garden Calendar:"

Make a garden plan. Plan the garden to include various vitamin groups.

Find the vegetable planting chart from UGA Extension to anticipate planting dates and planting rates.

Consider planting a few new varieties along with the old favorites.

Plant the amount of each vegetable to be planted, including enough to can and freeze. Allow about 1/10 acre of garden space for each member of the family.

Buy enough quality seed for two or three plantings to lengthen the season of production.

Take soil samples if you have not already done so, and take them to your county Extension office for analysis.

Apply manure or compost and plow it under if you did not do so in the fall.

Apply lime, sulfur and fertilizer according to the soil test results and vegetable requirements. Buy 100 pounds of fertilize for each 1/10 acre to be planted (if manure is not available, buy at least half again more). Use 5-10-10 or 6-12-12 analysis, depending on soil test and vegetable requirements.

Get plant beds or seed boxes ready for growing plants such as tomato, pepper and eggplant. Have beds ready for planting in early February.

Check on your compost pile and make sure it is ready for use in the spring.

Enhancing the garden and grounds is not a short-term process. Make 2021 a happy new year by picking a few projects that will be successful and then follow through on your landscape resolutions.

Roger Gates is the agricultural and natural resources agent for University of Georgia Extension, Whitfield County. Contact him at

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