Sow there! Water and weltschmerz, 4-14-2017

In late March, and again last week, the gravel bar along the Sacramento River at Big Chico Creek was closed to travelers.
In late March, and again last week, the gravel bar along the Sacramento River at Big Chico Creek was closed to travelers. Bill Husa — Enterprise-Record

I’m feeling more cautious about weather these days. Surely it’s the lingering impact of hard rain being less than a friend. We wished for the end of the drought, then we wished for the rains to stop.

Problems at Lake Oroville, scars along the riverbanks, debris strewn across once familiar walking trails …

My favorite spot along the Sacramento River is blocked by a gate. A thick layer of fine silt remains on the road, where the river rose and fell and rose again. The fact that I can’t go there makes me want to go there all the more.

This isn’t the first time I’ve lost a favorite spot along the river. Once upon a time I spent many hours casting a fishing line near a rock outcropping where a twisted tree grew. Back then you could walk down a steep path to a thin beach.

Over time, the river changed. The beach disappeared and a new gravel bar emerged downstream.

The last time I drove River Road, I saw that old tree — my old tree — toppled over on its side.

Does anyone else remember that old, rusted car near this same bend in the river? How that car landed on the bank and how it was removed will remain one of those great mysteries.

The older we get, more and more of our favorite places and things become only memories. Yet we must feel thankful we are old enough to have so many memories.


Thank goodness for gardening.

Change in the garden is never permanent. When a plant grows and dies, we can rush down to the local nursery and find something bright and new.

Many garden books talk about succession planting. Usually the term is used for food crops. You plant a row of lettuce one week, then plant more seeds a few weeks later. If your life depended on the food grown in the garden, succession planting would help avoid hunger if a sudden cold snap or storm obliterated your careful cultivation.

A website called Growing for Market, provides some rules of (green) thumb for planting intervals, which are used on the farm and can be used in your backyard.

• Green beans, every 10 days

• Cucumbers, plant new seeds after three weeks

• Kale, three weeks

• Lettuce, 10-14 days

• Spinach, 7 days

Other sources say to pull plants after they pass their prime. This beats going out each morning and snipping off the flowers when the plant is trying to go to seed and die.


One way I’ve been practicing this idea of succession planting is to buy seasonal flowers one six-pack at a time. This way I have one small project, and another excuse to buy plants the next weekend.

If you visit the nurseries often, you’ll also have more variety in the yard. Nurseries stock different plants depending on what’s coming into season. Weeks ago, all you could find were primrose and pansies. This week you’ll find six-packs of cosmos and shade-happy impatiens. When those plants from the early part of the season die, you can find something more suitable for the warm season.

More thoughts on food

For vegetables, it’s time to get busy with seeds, if you haven’t already.

The UC Davis vegetable planting guide, that now is the time to plant seeds for spinach, fava beans, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, squash and melons. Hot-weather plants including tomatoes and peppers can be purchased as small plants.

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