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Resolutions for a Better Harvest
by Jan Riggenbach - posted 11/28/17

I don't wait for January to make resolutions for the New Year. While the memory of the successes and failures of the recent season is still fresh in my mind, I like to make a list of resolutions as soon as I’ve put my garden to bed for the winter.

Here are just a few of those resolutions I’ve made over the years that have resulted in more fun, less work and a better harvest:

The first line of defense against fire blight is a variety such as Starking Delicious, which has built-in resistance.


A raised bed made from Bear Board resists rotting and warping.

Fall-bearing raspberries are much easier to manage than summer-bearing varieties.

One last ongoing resolution: Make notes of which crops produced too much and which ones produced too little. Adjust annually for your family’s changing tastes. Don’t forget to check amount of stored produce. Plan next year’s plantings accordingly.

No matter how carefully I plan, there are always glitches along the way. Weather is the wild card. But I love the challenge of trying to make the garden better every year.

Saving Seeds for a New Year
Don’t toss those leftover seeds. Most vegetable and herb seeds save surprisingly well. Beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers and dill seeds are particularly long lived. Onion and corn seeds, on the other hand, are much less dependable.

To preserve leftover seeds to plant next spring, wrap in tissues a half-cup of dry milk powder from a newly opened box or silica gel. Secure the packet with a rubber band and put it with your seeds in an airtight container.

Silica gel is a good choice because you can use the same powder year after year. Simply empty the tissue packets and heat the silica gel in the oven at a low temperature until blue dots reappear.

Research suggests that the refrigerator is the best place to store seeds. If you have too many seeds, choose another cool space, such as a cabinet in the basement.


A version of this article appeared in Iowa Gardener Magazine Volume 1 Number 6.
Photography courtesy of Jan Riggenbach.


After growing her family’s produce on a southwest Iowa acreage for decades, garden columnist Jan Riggenbach now tends raised beds in the city. Her latest book is Your Midwest Garden: An Owner’s Manual.