It’s a brand new year and time to plan for the upcoming months.

Making decisions about what you want to accomplish is frequently called making new year’s resolutions but I prefer to simply think of it as making a life plan. There’s that famous quote “failure to plan is planning to fail” and there is definitely some truth to that. Imagine not planning your garden work and suddenly it is July and you have yet to plant. Act now while you still have plenty of time to ponder, analyze and then decide on what will be important to you in the next 12 months.

Here are a few suggestions that seem to work well for gardeners.

Eat better. It’s true that health recommendations are all over the place as to what you should eat for optimal health. But the one thing that most plans have in common is the recommendation to eat more fruits and vegetables. As a gardener, you have an edge. During the growing season, which can run from April through November, you have fresh produce right at your fingertips. And in the winter, you can have a stockpile of garden foods preserved or stored for winter eating. The more variety in your diet the better so be sure to grow a wide range of foods.

Exercise more. Gardeners can’t help but get moving in the spring and summertime. We know that if we want tomatoes in late summer, we need to get busy digging and weeding in the spring. When cooler weather moves in, all that fun exercise stops and we need to look to some form of scheduled activity to keep us limber and strong for next year’s garden. Whether you commit to an individual exercise plan, join a club or sign up to be a walking buddy with a friend, do something this winter. And given the nature of garden work, it’s always smart to include some weight lifting in your exercise plan.

Make a nature habitat. It’s no secret that the environment for birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife is shrinking. You can help. A recent report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences stated that even small, local patches of bushes, trees or grasses could provide just what is needed for many species. The Natural Wildlife Federation provides a wealth of information for building a special spot in your yard. It could be as simple as choosing what to plant based on the needs of area fauna or as elaborate as changing your entire landscape. Watching the colorful birds in the wintertime can be quite a thrill.

Share. This year when you plan your garden, add in a few extra plants to share with friends or a local food bank. Over the years, I’ve been able to share loads of produce with fellow gardeners or have benefited from their largesse when I faced a crop failure. Sharing your homegrown produce with non-gardeners is also a way to introduce them to the absolute deliciousness available when they grow their own. If there are children in your life, share with them some age appropriate activities like digging in the dirt, an activity for all ages.

Save money. You can get a huge quantity of food out of your garden for not much money. A tomato plant can cost as little as 50 cents and will produce a bountiful harvest. A $2 pack of beans will have you eating all winter long. Aim to grow most if not all of your fruits and vegetables and save some ready cash by staying out of the stores.

Beverly Carney can be reached at