COLUMNISTS

Dakota Gardener: Garden plans for 2023

Carrie Knutson
NDSU Extension
Carrie Knutson, NDSU Extension agent, Grand Forks County

Another year of gardening is in the books. As I enjoy some downtime and plan for next year, I remember a few struggles in the garden that will change a couple of my gardening practices in 2023. Maybe my changes will help you get the most out of your garden too.

This year, I had more zucchini than I knew what to do with. I even thinned blossoms at one point. My plan for next year is to plant one or two zucchini plants. I will use the extra space for other vegetables.

In 2021, my daughter planted a row of cosmos seeds in one of our garden beds. It did wonderfully and the bees loved it. I didn’t clean up the flowers and left them to self-seed.

Fast forward to 2022. When I planted my broccoli, I left all the small cosmos seedlings. I was so happy to see something green. I didn’t weed them out other than around my transplants. I should also mention I had a crop of "volunteer" dill seedlings that I didn’t weed out either.

Left unchecked, "volunteer" plants from a previous season, such as this patch of cosmos and dill, can overcrowd desired vegetables.

I know better. I should have weeded out more volunteers. My broccoli didn’t grow well under the shade and competition from the dill and cosmos. The cosmos and dill formed a thick mass in the garden. The flowers were beautiful to look at, and it was fun to watch the bumblebees work, but I only harvested one head of broccoli.

Volunteer seedlings will be weeded out next year. I remembered to collect cosmos and dill seed this fall so that I don’t have to rely on volunteers. I can seed the plants where they can grow without taking over my vegetables.

I didn’t have enough time this past summer to devote to working in the garden. In addition, I frequently had more produce than I could harvest, eat and process. It was a stressful time, eating vegetables round the clock, canning, freezing and drying.

The plan for next year is to focus on succession plantings. Succession planting is planting a crop at intervals of seven to 21 days or planting a new crop after harvesting the first crop. It is really hard to hold back on planting in the spring. I want to get everything in the ground and growing. Creating a succession planting plan this winter will help limit my need to plant large amounts of everything, hopefully reducing the time spent stressing over too much produce at one time.

Potatoes were coming out of my ears this fall. As I harvested the potatoes, some of them rather large, I knew I needed to dig earlier in the growing season. In 2023, I will harvest new potatoes and enjoy at least 50% of my potato crop during the summer.

Finally, I didn’t spend enough time enjoying my yard. I plan to spend more time in my yard simply being outdoors and enjoying the space around me. I will try not to think about all the weeding and other chores that need to be done. Somehow, I think this will be the hardest change to accomplish.

I wish you a happy new gardening year!