1. Mulch More
Mulch matters—it really matters! Whether it’s the leaf litter that remains on my flowerbeds over the winter to protect it from intense cold and wind, or the 50/50 blend of fine pine bark and cottonseed hulls I use in summer to mitigate intense heat and wind, I keep learning that mulch is invaluable in the garden. In 2013 I vow to fight laziness and replenish mulch generously and often, before the plants grow too large, making mulching difficult.
2. Use Moisture Crystals
Moisture crystals are water-absorbing polymers (think the stuff in baby diapers) that when mixed with soil help it hold on to moisture and reduce water demand. I resolve to use it in all container plantings next season to cut back on watering.
3. Plant More Natives
There’s a reason native prairie plants want to live on the prairie. They like it here and have adapted to our extremes. Slowly but surely, I’ll replace fussy and demanding flowering plants with easy-care, beautiful natives such as Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Liatris, and grasses.
4. Emphasize Spring and Fall
Let’s face it: When it’s over 100 degrees for weeks on end without a drop of rain, gardening ain’t much fun. I plan to shift more of my planting energy into spring and fall, when temperatures are reasonable and gardening is enjoyable. There are many spring flowering bulbs and fiery-leaf shrubs for fall I am eager to try.
5. Dress Smart
Last, I’m going to pay more attention to the needs of the gardener as well as the garden. On my birthday gift list was a wide-brim hat with SPF, and a long-sleeve shirt with the same. One can’t be too careful with extreme heat and sun in our part of the country.