Garden Resolutions, Goals, and To-Dos for 2013

"Unknown Paths" by Malgorzata Maj. Buy at
“Unknown Paths” by Malgorzata Maj (click to purchase through

Ok – it’s the middle of January, and I should have my goals together by now, but I’m kind of at the point where I question whether making goals might be counter-productive. Seriously. I think I accomplish more by just winging it and going with the flow. Those of you who proclaimed your good intentions on the 1st, more power to ya. For me, though, goals and resolutions take a lot of strategic thinking or you are just setting yourself up for failure, which is why many us learn early in life that it’s better to set the bar low. Talk about a bunch of slackers! The word “resolution” itself has a connotation that you’ve already failed at something. I already feel like an apologetic puppy, promising to do better.

Nope. Goals and Resolutions are more hype than they’re worth. Plus, they are easily confused with the much-more-approachable, handy-dandy to-do list. These days, there are plenty of apps that enable you to check off little boxes and give you a feeling of accomplishment; however, I accomplish much the same thing on my scratch-paper versions, where I have been known to create the boxes after the fact, expressly for that purpose.

The problem is, “goals,” in the true sense of the word, imply something much more lofty to which to aspire. Ahm. Read that again. See, Goals don’t just hang out there like some kind of hanging preposition. Goals are objectives – we actually work toward them, the key word here being “work.” (Click “like” if you are old enough to remember Maynard G. Krebs!)

Elk in Path - photo by blythe
Sometimes rather large objects get in the way of your intended path, in which case, it makes sense to take a different route.

Here is the catch: if you don’t actually do something, “goals” are nothing more than dreams – which, don’t get me wrong, make up much of my reality. The danger in goals, however, is when they are as clearly defined as a path through the woods, which, as we all know, is so easy to get sidetracked along and end up some place unexpected. Not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. (What – you’re one of those destination-driven people for whom this analogy makes no sense? Stay with me here…) However, if they lack definition, they are like something that rolls in with the fog on a cool morning and then dissipates with the approaching sun, which, ironically for many of us, is more like something we can grasp.

Where are we going with this? See why goal-setting is relatively useless? Who knows what the future holds? Who needs to proclaim their goals and resolutions only to later have to admit that they must have gotten lost in the woods or, at the very least, been living in some kind of cloud?

So. With that in mind, I decided that this year’s “concepts” would be slightly more achievable than the year I thought I might place an emphasis on Boundaries (I’m still scratching my head over that one). If anything, it’s quite the opposite: No Boundaries. No Fear.

That’s right. It’s going to be a free-for-all out there – hey – we’re already there! – and the more chaotic, the better – because that is how diversity works, and diversity, as we know, is one of the prime indicators of a healthy ecosystem. Instant success. No failure.

I can feel the stress evaporate already! All I have to do is encourage that which would already work on its own if I just left Mother Nature to Her own devices! It’s when we interfere that we end up with problems!

Truth be told, we are not just gardening, friends – no – in case you were wondering just exactly what it is we’re doing out there – we are creating Ecosystems. It’s called Eco-gardening. One of those trendy new words along with Permaculture, Forest Gardening, and Agroforestry, that, by their very nature, deserve to be capitalized. We are, in the process, approaching God-like status in our creations – but, lest we get too full of ourselves, we hardly need be reminded Who’s Really in control (if you get arrogant, She will quickly bring you down to reality – just sayin’).

Zen Path to Garden at Koto-In, by Michael S. Yamashita. Buy at
A Zen Path Leads to the Entrance to the Garden at Koto-In, a photographic print by Michael S. Yamashita. (Click to purchase through

So here is the strategy: Create a list of actual achievable To-Dos (pronounced Dooz, as in Doozy, not Dos, as in the Spanish #2). A To-Do list is more like an assignment. Being the first-born, I’ve always been very good with assignments, assignments being in the Imperative tense, as opposed to a task, which is in the procrastination tense. So, yes, we’ll just get right on it, yesirree, and when they’re all done, we will have miraculously reached a true “goal” of some sort, which is something so much more than a mere series of assignments. We might not be able to define it exactly, but we’ll know it when we see it. And if that isn’t a strategy for success, I just don’t know what is. Break it down to do-able parts. So here we go:

The nominations for 2013 Assignments are:

In the Garden Structure category:

  1. Improve Paths
  2. Build another water garden – maybe 2
  3. Build another spiral garden – maybe more!
  4. Add perching posts for birds – and maybe a water bath
  5. Create more Hiding Places! (mini secret gardens)
  6. Create Maps and Signs (so we know what’s where)
  7. Make the garden rooms more distinct, as well as more connected
  8. Build more beds
  9. Build a place to grow mushrooms
  10. Build a “pollinator hotel!”
  11. Cover the world with mulch – expand around shrubs and in the orchard and everywhere in the garden!

In the Plants category:

  1. Plant more bee plants: plant lots of species high in nectar and pollen to attract native pollinators of all kinds – make sure they cover all times of year
  2. Plant more of just about everything! Take cuttings, divide and conquer, collect and scatter seed – the more the merrier!
  3. Explore Grains! Hulless oats? Amaranth? Quinoa?
  4. Grow more black mustard again…(garlic-horseradish mustard? Yes!)
  5. Grow more mulch material – like comfrey! Harvest mulch with the scythe!
  6. Expand on the understory plants – now that we’ve got the higher plants in the ground, time to start filling in the lower layers!
  7. Plant more ferns and shady woodland plants
  8. Plant more roots – like mashua, yacon, and oca! – and more perennial vegetables!
  9. Plant more wild roses and harvest rose hips!
  10. Plant something really unusual (at least, for me)
  11. Grow Daikon radishes to break up the soil
  12. Experiment with guilds and combinations of plants
  13. Do more with drought-tolerant plants – fill in sunny dry areas with plants like germander, lavender, rosemary, sage, thyme, sedums, and assorted groundcovers, such as wild strawberries and raspberries, heathers, and kinnikinnick
  14. Be better on top of collecting and saving seeds
  15. Learn more about “weeds” and their different uses, and make better use of so-called weeds
  16. Mulch everything  – build the soil

In the Garden Craft / Just for Fun category:

  1. Add more Art in all shapes and forms
  2. Create more with willow
  3. Make stepping stones for paths
  4. Make more windspinners and other fun things!
  5. Create a vertical garden / living wall or sculpture

Ok – that’s probably enough for now – and if I get even half of these done, I will have accomplished something – and that’s a pretty good goal, too! And by the number of exclamation points in the post, you can see I’m pretty excited about all this!

It’s going to be a great year! Let’s get with the program!

And now it’s YOUR turn. What are your goals, resolutions, concepts, to-dos for the garden?

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