By Kathy Van Mullekom

Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)


For many, the new year means there are pounds to shed, closets to clean and credit cards to pay.

Gardeners, however, focus on beauty that’s just around the corner — the promise of another growing season with the chance to enhance a garden or try a new plant.

In the spirit of making New Year’s resolutions, here’s what some gardeners resolve to do in 2013. Their goals can play out most anywhere you garden.

Let nature be

Allow dead vegetation in the garden to stand over winter, furnishing habitat for birds, small mammals and overwintering insects because they lay their eggs in the stems of goldenrod and other sturdy plants. In spring, cut the old stems into small segments so they fall to the soil surface, becoming early spring mulch where beneficial insect eggs develop and hatch.

Helen Hamilton, John Clayton Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society;

Garden smarter

Cover bare spots in my yard quickly — before erosion occurs and washes soil into the storm drain. Do a soil test to determine what nutrients my yard needs; if fertilizer is recommended apply it in fall. Install another rain barrel to keep my water bill down and my plants happy.

Ann Jurczyk, Williamsburg gardener and outreach advocate for Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Garden greener

Mulch in the leaves on my lawn with a mulching mower instead of raking them to add nutrients to my soil. Keep a garden journal so I remember when I did tasks like sowing seeds, cutting back perennials and adding soil amendments. Reduce the size of my lawn, converting it to native plant beds that require less of everything.

Grace Chapman, horticulture director at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond;

Win war on weeds

Get weeds when they are young because youngsters are easier to eliminate using a hoe versus pulling large, well-established adults.

Lisa Ziegler, The Gardener’s Workshop, an online gardening supply house at

Live greener

Reuse an unwanted ladder into a vertical display of potted plants, old vinyl window blinds or silverware into plant markers or a broken teapot into a beautiful planter. Reduce the amount of grass in the lawn into a beautiful display of native flowers, shrubs and trees. Compost food waste into compost for the garden.

Julia Hillegass of

Use more native plants

Native species evolve to better perform with our changing climate, and they provide food, cover and habitat for native wildlife.

Bruce Peachee, horticulture curator with Virginia Living Museum in Newport News;

Spread the word

Create awareness of the benefits of volunteering at local gardens and farms, thereby building better relationships as we descend on a farm for a day to help out.

Lara Haner, director of The Tidewater Crop Mob on Facebook

Fatten my worms

Last year, I bought the Can-O-Worms composting farm and was withholding all acidic fruit and vegetables, thinking they didn’t care for them. But, a friend tells me she feeds hers everything from the kitchen and they eat all of it. So, I will feed them more frequently with more scraps from my kitchen, and I will reap the benefits of more organic fertilizers to use in my garden.

Linda Pinkham, gardener and Tidewater Daylily Society member in Isle of Wight County

Grow more edibles

Use a square-foot gardening plan, put lime or crushed eggshells in planting holes for tomatoes, make and use compost generously and water everything in the mornings as needed.

Melinda Webb, Hampton master gardener;

Plant more veggies

The children that visited our Children’s Garden in 2012 really enjoyed picking tomatoes, pulling carrots and digging sweet potatoes, which grow so well in the compost we make, so we are going to plant even more this year.

Becky Heath of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs;

Simplify, share and enjoy

If a plant flourishes and I like it, I will use more of it. I will share those plant successes by dividing them, rooting cuttings or saving seeds and pass them along to others. I will bask in the beauty of the garden because it sustains my soul as well as my energies.

Marie Butler, horticulturist with Virginia Zoo in Norfolk;

Plant more plants

Although my rain garden slows runoff and water in an easement that flows to a creek and waterways beyond, it tends to fill with leaves and debris, so I will rake it and “plant more plants” ( in and around it and to create a fun and healthy habitat full of native birds, butterflies, insects and grandchildren.

Sara Lewis, Williamsburg gardener and volunteer with Chesapeake Bay Foundation (

Recycle more

As a community project, we’re going to build a greenhouse out of plastic bottles, which keeps them out of the trash and makes it a fun project for kids, as well as encouraging them to recycle.

Wendy Iles, founder of the nonprofit

Kathy Van Mullekom is the gardening and home columnist for the Daily Press in Newport News, Va.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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