Happy New Year! While there are still a few more days left in 2023, I’m always excited to welcome a new year and can’t wait to see what 2024 has in store. I’m already making plans for farming projects I intend to tackle during the coming year, what I suppose you could call New Year’s resolutions, though I think of them more as inspiration. I hope they serve as such both for myself and for readers.
I’ve shared my farming resolutions every year since 2016. The goal of this annual exercise isn’t to compile a list of resolutions that must be followed at any cost, but to encourage proactive thinking about fun and productive projects to accomplish during the coming year.
With this goal in mind, here are four of my 2024 New Year’s farming resolutions.
1. Start Pumpkin Seeds Indoors
The growing season on my northern Wisconsin farm isn’t very long. You can count on having frost in May. Frost in September isn’t uncommon either, so plants that take more than 90-100 days to mature are challenging to grow.
That includes many varieties of pumpkins. I love growing pumpkins and usually opt for varieties that mature in 95 days or less, but this year I want to expand my options. That’s why I’m planning to start my pumpkin seeds indoors, underneath grow lights.
By giving my pumpkins an indoor head start before spring frost season is over, I hope to grow varieties that require 120 days or even more.
2. Upgrade My Orchard Fence to Welded Wire
The perimeter fence that surrounds my orchard is built from wood and welded wire on one side and black plastic deer fence on the other three sides. It’s worked great for years, but in 2023 at least one stubborn deer figured out how to nose underneath the black plastic and even push right through it in places.
As a result, I spent a lot of time in 2023 repairing and enhancing my deer fence. I upgraded one of the sides (the most problematic side, from what I could tell) from black plastic to welded wire, and that significantly reduced deer incursions. In 2024, I intend to install more welded wire along the remaining two sides and hopefully put an end to deer invasions once and for all.
3. Repaint Farm Buildings
Some of the older buildings on my farm are in need of new coats of paint. Not only will they look spiffy with fresh paint, it will help protect their wooden sides from decay. It’s going to be a big job, but if I prepare early (there’s plenty of paint scraping to be done) and start painting as soon as the weather is warm, dry and not too humid, I’m optimistic I can make a lot of progress in 2024.
4. Invest in Soaker Hoses and/or Drip Irrigation
In 2023, I purchased garden hoses to span the ~600 feet separating the raised garden beds in my orchard from the nearest water source. It sped up the process of watering my beds and allowed me to water more thoroughly than I could with a 35-gallon leg tank in the back of a tractor-towed trailer.
In 2024, I’m thinking of taking my watering game to the next level with soaker hoses and/or drip irrigation lines. The goal is to get where I can turn on the water and know my plants are quenching their thirst with minimal supervision from me. Then I can take the time I’ll save and spend it on other orchard projects.
What are your New Year’s farming resolutions for 2024?