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How Does Your Garden Grow?

How Does Your Garden Grow?
According to the calendar, spring is here and this means it’s gardening season. There is something so appealing about a vibrant and colorful bed of flowers or the overflowing bounty of a vegetable garden. As a gardener, it’s a great way to see and enjoy the fruits of your hard and passionate work. As avid gardeners, we’re keen to spread the word about the benefits and beauty of gardening. Not only is it a relaxing and refreshing way to spend time outside in the fresh air, it’s also excellent exercise. Yes, exercise – all the bending, lifting, and carrying is practically a strength work-out. Because of this, we want you to think carefully about how you bend and lift heavy items - remember to protect your joints and take a break when needed. Now, we know that depending on where you live you might be dealing with less-than favorable gardening conditions. The good news is that even if you’re still digging out from snow or dealing with very soggy soil, there is lots you can do to get ready for the gardening season. In this article we’ve put together some ways you can get ready for the planting season and how to spring clean your garden for the summer and fall growing season. As always, if you have gardening tips that you know others in our SierraSil Facebook Community would enjoy, do share them on Facebook. How To Be Ready For Gardening Season Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who lives in a year-round gardening-friendly climate – if so, we’re jealous. For the rest of us, the spring is an ideal chance to get ready for the gardening season. We’ve put together our top suggestions that can help you get ready for the upcoming gardening season.
  • Clean and tidy. During the winter, your gardening beds are exposed to harsh weather, causing damage and mess. Clean up any broken branches, leaves, and other messes that are cluttering your lawn and gardening beds. The sooner you do these gardening tasks, the easier it is for your spring bulbs to grow and for you to get your garden ready for planting. But do remember that you can’t rush this process – be aware of the weather and any upcoming frost warnings.
  • Give your gardening tools some TLC. Your gardening tools have been sitting all winter, and could likely do with a bit of a refresh. Clean your tools, sharpen any dull edges, and treat yourself to some new gardening gloves and knee pads.
  • Prep your soil. You know that the quality of your garden has a lot to do with your soil. Get down and dirty and dig into your soil – turn the soil over and remove any weeds or stray grass and then add fresh soil and compost. This last step adds much needed nourishment, but be careful to add the compost a couple of weeks before planting so the compost doesn’t hurt your plants.
  • Plan it out. Just like everything, a plan is essential to success. Think about the shade, your local weather patterns, and what you want from your garden. Know which plants make sense for your zone and talk to the experts at your local nursery about the best plants for you. Think about how much time you have for maintenance and consider this when planning your garden. Think about how your garden will grow – use a mix of different heights of plants and how these plants grow (up, down, or both).
  • Treat yourself to new gardening gear. Ultimately, you need to enjoy gardening, so make sure you’ve got the right tools and equipment to enable this. If you’ve got lower back problems, sore knees, or other joint discomfort – consider investing in a lightweight wheel barrow, ergonomic gardening tools, knee pads, and other equipment that can ease joint stress and mobility discomfort.
What did we miss? Tell us on the SierraSil Facebook page – chances are high others will chime in with their gardening tips. How To Spring Clean Your Garden Hopefully the warm weather is right around the corner and you can really get into giving your garden a spring clean to get it ready for planting season. If you’re in doubt about if you can start really working in your garden, consult the folks at your local nursery and follow their expert advice.
  • Clean up your flower beds. Take the time to remove and compost any of your dead annuals that you didn’t remove before the winter deep-freeze. Prune and trim your perennials, keeping in mind your garden plan and what you want to plant and grow this season.
  • Trim shrubs and woody plants. Put on a good pair of gardening gloves and using your best shears, trim back your woody plants and shrubs. Look for broken or dead branches – remember you need to make room for new growth.
  • Cut your ornamental grass. As soon as you can, trim back your ornamental grass. Unlike shrubs and woody plants, you don’t need to wait for new growth to trim your ornamental grass. As well, remember to trim this grass to just a few inches from the ground – this enables better growth.
  • Dig up those weeds. Be pro-active and take action against any pesky weeds that survived the winter. Dig up these weeds when the soil is damp. Whatever you do, don’t compost your weeds – or they’ll make a very unwelcome return to your garden. At the same time you’re weeding, dig up any plants you no longer want and if possible consider giving these to a friend who is new to gardening or to a young eager gardener.
  • Stake it out. No one really enjoys staking, but it is key in supporting your plants. Better to do it now rather than when your garden is in full bloom. Remember to pay attention to how you bend and how much staking you do in one session – think joint health first!
Are you excited for planting and growing season? We sure are. There really is nothing better than sitting back on a Sunday afternoon and enjoy the colors, smells, and vibrancy that comes with a beautiful garden.

How to Set Yourself Up for Success in 2018

How to Set Yourself Up for Success in 2018
We’re a few weeks into January and it’s the perfect time to think about your year. Now that the excitement around the holidays and New Year resolutions is over, it’s the ideal time to think about what you want out of the year. You, like the rest of us, were likely overwhelmed with articles about making New Year’s resolutions and how to make these resolutions stick. Unfortunately, too often we frame our resolutions around negativity. We only look at the aspects of our lives and selves that we believe aren’t good enough. First of all, you are good enough. Secondly, we want you to rethink your resolutions. We want you to ditch any resolutions that resemble the following: “lose 10 lbs”, “get fit”, “eat better”, “go to the gym”, “do more”, or “be a better person”. Instead we want you to think about the stuff of life that makes you excited. Ask yourself how you can do more of what you love and spend more time with those you love. Knowing your passions and what excites you is the first step in creating resolutions that matter. For example, the SierraSil team derives deep motivation and excitement from the people who tell us how SierraSil has changed their lives. Knowing that we’re making a difference is great launching pad in helping us define what we want out of 2018. Make Your Resolutions Meaningful Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to get out of bed early on a Saturday morning for snowshoe trip with friends than it is to get up early to go to work? This all comes down to doing things because we want to – not because we feel forced to do so. And this is why so many of us fail at our resolutions. We define resolutions that we believe we should be making rather than the ones we want to do. Sure, there are lots of articles that tell us how obesity rates are rising or that the general population doesn’t exercise enough or that we spend too much time in front of the computer. When we’re bombarded by this constant negative spin, it becomes very easy to get caught-up in the aspects of life that we think are not quite good enough. Remember when we asked you to think about what gets you excited? Now what if you created a resolution or two around these? For example, perhaps you enjoy cooking and want to volunteer more – a good resolution is to find a food bank and volunteer twice a month cooking muffins and granola for the food bank patrons. Or maybe you want to go on a hiking vacation to a national park but you’re struggling with joint discomfort – a good resolution is to learn what you can do to naturally support your joints to alleviate discomfort and then begin an easy walking program – slowly but surely, your joints will feel better and you’ll have built the fitness and strength you need to enjoy your hiking trip. These two examples are framed around positivity and include measurable and meaningful goals. When your resolutions are positioned as doable and meaningful, it’s much easier to stay focused. Define the Motivation Behind Your Resolutions Do you know why you’ve made the resolutions you’ve made? Do you know why you want to make these changes? What will these resolutions do for you? In other words, what is going to motivate you to make the changes needed to succeed at your resolutions? It’s amazing what motivated people can do. We’ve all read articles about people who overcome insurmountable odds to perform amazing feats of athleticism, volunteerism, and professionalism. These people are motivated by passion and knowing that the small sacrifices and changes they have to make are all for a goal they truly believe in. We want you to have this same motivation, you’ll need it when it’s raining out and you don’t feel like going for a run or for when you’d rather skip the monthly community board meeting. But you won’t because you really do want to run your first marathon or you really are committed to seeing a new park in your neighborhood. When you keep the big picture in mind and are excited by what it means for you, it’s so much easier to enjoy the steps along the way. When you wrap your resolutions in this outlook, it puts an end to the all-or-nothing approach. Guaranteed, there will be days when you don’t do what you believe you should do to meet your goal or times when you lose motivation – this is okay – you’re only human. Remember, no one is perfect. Enjoy 2018 Finally, we want you to drop the idea that this year is going to be the “best year ever”. Instead we want you to appreciate every day you have. Endeavor to make today a good day. Do something that gets you closer to your resolution or don’t – it’s okay. You need to remember to give yourself a break. If you don’t want to get up early on Saturday, then don’t, sleep in and do something completely different. Have a movie day or invite some friends over for board games. Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up because you’re not doing what you “should” be doing. There is no “should” in your 2018. Enjoy life. Take it all in. Think about your resolutions and use them as your guide but don’t let them become your taskmaster. 2018 is going to be good. It might even be great. Whatever happens, know that you’re doing it right. We want to hear from you. Visit the SierraSil Facebook community page and tell us about your resolutions. What are your motivations for 2018? What do you want to accomplish?