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Mountain Gardening: Time for Gardeners to Think Ahead

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Now that the dust has settled on another gardening season, what plans do you have for next year? Lowe’s Mountain region contributor shares five ideas.

xeriscape garden

By Jodi Torpey

I’ve decided my gardening theme for next year consists of two words: Think Ahead.

That theme is my simple reminder for the things I need to do if I want a bigger, better, more beautiful garden next year.

tomato plant in plant protector

I plan to whisper “Think Ahead” on those warm winter days when I know I should water the trees, shrubs, and perennial plants. Winter watering is essential in a semiarid climate, and I know I have to turn on the water if I want a healthy landscape in spring.

I also resolve to start my vegetable garden earlier. Every year I procrastinate my way into warm weather and then kick myself for not planting tomatoes and peppers sooner. “Think Ahead” for the vegetable garden means pulling myself off the couch while the weather is still cold and blustery, and setting up the plant protectors.

perennial bed

As part of my 2014 vegetable-growing plan, I’ll add more ‘Fresno’ chile peppers to the container garden. These peppers were my favorites from last summer’s garden, and I was sorry I didn’t plant more.

The ‘Fresno’ peppers were easy to grow, and they matured to a brilliant red, so they looked lovely on the patio. They had the perfect balance of heat, bite, and flavor. I just have to have more of those next year.

second-place tomato

When it comes to cherry tomatoes, I prefer those that are a little tart. But now I know vegetable contest judges prefer sweeter varieties. The white cherry tomatoes I entered in the county fair scored a red ribbon because they just weren’t sweet enough.

To give my competitive efforts a boost, I’m going to look for small-size tomatoes known for their high sugar content. I’ve heard ‘Amsterdam’ is an especially sweet grape tomato, so I’m going to give that one a try.

orange mums

Another “Think Ahead” moment is about planting for fall color. In spring it’s easy to get carried away with colorful summer-blooming annuals, and I forget about fall. I’m planning on planting many mums so I can have a beautiful autumn floral display.

What are you going to do differently in your garden next year?

See more Mountain Gardening Articles.