Plant Answers  >  New Year's Resolutions

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, this information is made available to you, free-and-clear.


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!


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