Master Gardener: New year resolutions help gardeners plan for spring

Published: Thursday, January 2, 2014 at 07:24 PM.

Harvest, store and use your rainwater. Use cisterns or rain barrels to collect the water that runs off the roof — use this water first to irrigate your lawn, garden and container plantings.

Consider adding chickens, rabbits or other small livestock to your yard. If you are up for the additional responsibility and commitment chickens, ducks, guinea hens, rabbits or other small livestock help cycle nutrients in your garden. Carefully managed poultry can control insect pests and weeds while providing nitrogen and phosphorous to improve soil fertility.

Support pollinators! Bees pollinate many of our vegetable crops but need a variety of flowers to feed on throughout the year. The loss of native habitat for pollinators makes the efforts of gardeners even more important. Strive to have at least three different varieties of flowers blooming in your yard each season. Bees are particularly attracted to blue, yellow and white flowers.

Be innovative! This is a great time of year to grab a cup of coffee and pick up your favorite plant catalog. I find inspiration in garden magazines and I love to learn about the new varieties growers are introducing to the industry.

Have fun! Gardening along the coast can be a challenge but by choosing the right plant for the right place you can be a successful gardener. When I first moved to the area I was still trying to grow things from the piedmont that I loved but they just never survived. I finally came to the conclusion that I had to forgo those beloved plants and discover new favorite plants that were better adapted to the coastal climate and soil conditions.

Learn more!

For help with plant problems, weed identification or other gardening questions, visit where you can submit questions and pictures via the ‘Ask an Expert’ link; or contact your local Cooperative Extension center: in Pender County, call 910-259-1238; in New Hanover County, call 910-798-7660; in Brunswick County call 910-253-2610.

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