New Year's Resolutions
Regardless of whether you're ready for a new year, it is
here! The only redeeming value of growing older is the fact
that some of us also grow smarter. Now that the new year has
begun, let us make 10 resolutions that will insure better
growing this year.
We will not plant vegetables and fruit-producing plants
in the shade. Lack of light (less than 8 continuous hours
during the day) reduces productivity. I am convinced that
90% of all the plant-growing problems encountered are a direct
result of planting a sun-loving plant in a shade or semi-shaded
area. If you cannot sunbathe by your plants for 8 to 10 hours
everyday, then the area is not considered a full sun situation.
Just because you can see the sun from the planting area DOES
NOT qualify it as a full sun location. If you have a shaded
or semi-shaded area, plant shade-tolerant plants or suffer
the consequences of spindly plant growth, poor bloom and little,
if any, fruit production.
We will not believe everything we read in seed catalogs. All
varieties in seed catalogs are naturally described in glorious
terms. However, all of the varieties in any given catalog
will probably not be the best adapted for your growing conditions.
Varieties must be evaluated in the local area for several
growing seasons before determinations can be made. Horticulture
professionals with the Texas Cooperative Extension continuously
conduct such trials and recommend to you only those varieties
that are tried and proven.
We will not be deceived by "weekend specials"
which offer plants which supposedly will perform unrealistic
feats such as bloom in the dark, grow 40 feet per year, repel
gophers, produce miniature oranges in your living room and
eliminate household odors. Grass which never needs mowing
or plants which never need watering or fertilizing should
be viewed with some degree of skepticism -- these same "miracle
plants" may be too ugly to tolerate.
We will not be persuaded by guarantees. Our time is too
valuable to be haggling with fraudulent companies concerning
the $20 we paid for a "miracle" plant. Life is too
short and stress factors too plentiful! Remember the "r"
words when making a purchase: buy from a "r"eputable
nursery, purchase only Extension "r"ecommended plants
and plant in the "r"ight place using the "r"ight
procedure at the "r"ight time.
We will not believe in "miracles." Miracles are
too precious to be sold in plastic containers and used to
activate the compost pile or increase numbers of soil micro-organisms.
Any product that has "secret ingredients" that cannot
be listed on package labels is suspect. There exists today
very little original thought in the world of plant production.
Those who are fortunate enough to have "secrets"
and "miracle" products should be allowed to keep
them, i.e., DON'T BOTHER BUYING THEM! We should make our own
"miracles" with sound plant production techniques.
We will be wary of "sales". "Sales"
occur for reasons -- some good; some bad. "Bad"
sales are caused by excess supplies of non-adapted plants
(concord grape, Bartlett pear, red delicious apple, Big Boy
tomato, Homestead tomato) of untimely items (spring plants
of Brussels sprouts), of overstocked items (fruit trees in
April, vegetable transplants after May) and of poor quality
plants (a dead plant is not a good deal at any price).
We will consider our sources of information very carefully.
Questions that should be asked are: Will the source of information
financially profit from my decision? Is the profit motive
inspiring the recommendation? There is only one source of
competent, totally unbiased information in this area -- the
Texas Cooperative Extension. Through these weekly e-columns
and PLANTanswers.com, this information is made available to
We will not over-indulge our plants. Don't kill them with
kindness, such as putting twice the amount of fertilizer recommended
around plants, watering daily (or hourly) or spraying with
pesticides mixed to a double strength solution (the "if
a little does some good, a lot will be better" philosophy).
We will plant the right plant at the appropriate time in
the proper manner. We will not try to "cheat" and
plant too early in an "over enriched" soil. Plant
growth is governed by certain physiological limitations. We
can provide optimum conditions for plants to insure maximum
growth and yield, but we cannot hurry plants without damaging
them. All of the "rights" of plant growth can be
learned from Extension informational fact sheets for the plant
that you wish to grow.
We will learn to recognize a mistake and take positive action,
maybe even harsh measures, to correct it rather than trying
to adjust or modify the situation. Such instances which need
drastic measures to correct an intolerable, remediless situation
include: planting a pecan tree beneath a power line and hoping
the tree will be a dwarf; planting small shrubs which turn
into monstrous bushes in front of a picture window; planting
a sycamore tree which loses leaves 3 times a year and dies
sooner than later. The only remedy to these situations is
action -- the action of a chain-saw! Take time to make a right
decision in the beginning to avoid suffering with a wrong
decision for years to come.
There are many more resolutions which we should all make
but these few, if not compromised, will enable you to grow
better, easier this year than ever before.
Happy New Year and Good Growing!