Carol O'Meara - Colorado State University Extension

Carol O’Meara – Colorado State University Extension

BOULDER – The year 2016 is one that many are happy to see in the rear view mirror, with its drought, psyllids, and Emerald Ash Borer causing angst.  Yet, though we suffered crisp lawns, poor tomato yields, and new detections, obsessed gardeners aren’t dismayed. We face trials every year and shrug it off with an “ever onward to next year” mentality.

And so we look forward into next season, but not without making certain vows. We all do this with resolutions for the New Year. Thus, with a nod to my aging body and the power of delusional optimism, here is my list of garden resolutions.

Stretching before I garden.  Every spring I relive the arrogance of youth, reveling in the first warm days to get garden all the chores done. After this, my body forcefully reminds me that I’m no longer a spry spring chicken, although my squawking in pain is distinctly poultryesque.

So I resolve to warm up before heading out with a few stretches and a brisk walk about the garden to alert my muscles to the upcoming work. After I get started working, I’ll take breaks every half hour to stand up, stretch and give my body a break.

Replacing the tomato cages with ones that actually work. Yes, those little tapered ones look cute and stack together nicely, but when the tomato plants get big enough to hide a Buick and start producing fruit, those cages topple over. I need industrial strength cages made in circles from four-inch mesh. Bending the mesh into the columns to hold the plants should only take a weekend, some heavy gloves, a wire cutter, and enough band aides create a new wardrobe.

Moving the slugs out of the garden. Slugs ended up as enemy number one this year, savaging my beans, tomatoes, basil, peppers, hostas, Asiatic lilies – just about everything except the lavender.  Their numbers are so high I fear for the small birds and mammals that roam the landscape. So beer is on my list for purchasing this spring.

So is soy sauce, in order to set traps for earwigs. This insect also plagued the garden, in some cases making it difficult to tell whether slugs or they did the damage.  Fortunately the traps for earwigs are similar to beer traps for slugs:  a small container of vegetable oil with a dollop of soy sauce placed in the garden. Earwigs find this delightful, and plunge in for a swim. They don’t climb out again.

Mulching in flower beds and trees to prevent water waste.  With a dry year looming over our heads, making sure irrigation water isn’t wasted is everyone’s responsibility. Organic mulch is essential to keeping moisture in the soil, keep roots cool, and protecting plant health. The type to use depends upon the place its put; annual flower beds should get soft mulch such as straw or grass clippings that can be tilled in at season’s end.

Shredded bark, wood chips, or other, larger mulch is best around trees, shrubs, and perennials. The bigger size helps keep it from blowing away. A cozy covering of around four inches is perfect for most types of mulches; straw and grass can be slightly deeper – up to six inches – while wood chips can be spread as thin as three inches.

Consider your own garden resolutions for 2017. Mother Nature may or may not play along, but at least you’ll have a plan.ersity Extension, together with Boulder County Parks and Open Space, provides unbiased, research-based information about consumer and family issues, horticulture, natural resources, agriculture and 4-H youth development. For more information contact Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Rd., Box B, Longmont, 303.678.6238, or visit