All across the area, new and experienced gardeners are both getting the itch to plant. Hold on a bit longer, though, it needs to get just a little bit warmer. You can get outside to plan and work toward getting your garden spot the best it can be. And while you are planning for a great garden, stop and give some thought to your gardening goals.
Goals are important
Not by themselves. By themselves, goals are just a means to an end; when you have specific goals, you can focus your attention on the things that will get you there.
The really important part happens when you reach your goals.
Here’s an example: maybe you want to grow tomatoes because you want to can your own salsa. That’s a good, specific goal. To achieve that goal, you should plant determinate tomatoes that will ripen in a batch big enough to can. You also need to plant enough of them, keep them well watered, use a highly productive variety, and maybe you want to add your own hot peppers, too. Success comes when you can a batch of salsa. A second batch of salsa? Extra points!
Maybe your gardening wishes are more modest. Maybe you just want to get a few homegrown slicing tomatoes for sandwiches. Again, that’s a good specific goal. You plant a tasty indeterminate slicer. Success comes when you’ve picked, eaten and enjoyed a few tomato sandwiches.
But here’s the flip side: what if after you reach your goal, your tomato plants are stricken with a bad case of late blight, or it gets too hot for you to want to spend time in the garden, or maybe they just fall over and die in a gust of wind? Because you’ve defined your specific goals, you can claim success. Even if all your plants die prematurely. You have not failed. You haven’t even done poorly. You achieved exactly what you wanted to achieve.
Isn’t that the important part?
You don’t need a goal with hard numbers and calculations, but if you have a less quantifiable goal — like “have fun” and “grow food” — it becomes harder to measure your improvement over the years, and harder to be happy with your results when the inevitable happens near the end of a long season and your garden not only doesn’t look like those glossy photos in Southern Living, your garden downright looks awful.
Think about why you are gardening and what you want. Then claim your successes.