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A new year – new seed catalogs, new wish lists, new garden plans, new hopes of growing our old favorites and maybe trying something new!

January is a great time to take inventory of seeds on hand — to sort, count, organize and test for germination. Also, it’s a good time to share with other gardeners if there are extras. Always buy good seeds.

If a map was drawn for last year’s garden plot, now is a good time to redraw that map with a plan for this year. A gardening journal is a useful tool year-round. It can be used to record which plants performed well, help make decisions concerning soil amendments and it’s just sometimes entertaining to have a reference of past gardening experiences.  

Several people have commented to me about having disease issues with their heirloom tomatoes. We need to be mindful of crop rotation with all vegetables, but especially with heirlooms.

There’s a good reason why we have hybrid cultivars. They were bred to be more resistant to disease and pests. Hybrid is not a bad word. Hybrids can be grown using organic methods. Hybrid is not the same as GMO. Better Boy, Early Girl, Celebrity, and Beefsteak are some good hybrid tomatoes, and there are many more. We just won’t be able to save the seeds of hybrids and expect to reproduce the same plant.

January is also a good time to take inventory of supplies that will be needed for this year’s garden. Tools may need to be sharpened and cleaned. Boiled linseed oil (from flax) has been traditionally appreciated by wooden handles. Always own good gardening tools. Yes, they are expensive, but sometimes they can be found at auctions and yard sales.

It’s a new year, and I am grateful to be living in beautiful Tennessee, where, if we look hard enough, we can find plants blooming year-round.

Scavenging for the makings of a bouquet, I’m able to find a few blooms in my yard this New Year’s Day. Several pots of pansies, inter-planted with parsley and thyme, are graciously blooming after being covered when temperatures were recently in the teens. With just a small amount of effort, we can keep pansies blooming most winters here.

Discovering blue flowers covering one of my rosemary plants was a pleasant surprise. This 4-year-old plant apparently likes living in a large, plastic pot in full sun, protected from winds, with thyme growing around its feet.

Herbal people regard rosemary as the herb of remembrance. Last year, many of us experienced more loss than usual. Aromatic herbs can be comforting, and cutting a little kitchen bouquet in remembrance of my gardening pal and brother, Glenn, seemed appropriate. He always shared whatever he grew in his garden, and even an occasional gallon jug of morels would show up on my porch in springtime. I will miss sharing gardening “stuff” with him.

The hellebores (Lenten roses) will be blooming soon. Buds can already be found at the base of the plants. In order for them to look their best, remove damaged and excessive leaves before the blooms emerge. My friend Duncan Callicott told his students that traditionally hellebores were planted at a home’s entrance as a way of saying welcome.

Happy gardening.

Gardening Partners is a non-profit founded in 2003 to serve Dickson County with gardening education and advice.  Readers may submit gardening questions by email:, on the website:, or by mail:  PO Box 471 Dickson TN 37056

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