Sow There! Making less of resolutions and watering your plants, Jan. 5, 2018

This Vinca rosea looks unnaturally fresh for January. By this time most years the freeze would have turned the summer shiner to mush.
This Vinca rosea looks unnaturally fresh for January. By this time most years the freeze would have turned the summer shiner to mush. Photo by Heather Hacking

On the last day of the old year, a few friends gathered for a celebratory grease-fest at Jack’s restaurant downtown.

Talk turned to self-improvement, resolutions and one-word affirmations. Katie shared that she chooses a single word for the upcoming year, and then tries to be mindful of the word in all her endeavors. This year her word is “less.”

Less stuff. Less worry. Less fuss. You could go on and on, but that would defeat the purpose.

I had no doubt that my friend Katie is “trendy,” but it turns out her one-word idea is an actual trend.

A few days later I noticed the topic: “New Year’s word,” was literally “trending” on social media. I would credit Katie, but I think she would prefer “less” credit.


Resolutions are cool and I am resolute that I will make one — in my own sweet time. But first I want to finish eating all my Christmas chocolate. By the time Chinese New Year rolls around, many of my friends have finished the cycle of heart-felt promises and broken promises.

Even if good intentions fall flat, I think the New Year/fresh start things is a grand idea. We all get to make a fresh start, some of us try this again and again and again.

All days are arbitrary in the larger scheme of life. If we need a day on the calendar to prompt us to clean out the garage, join a gym or stop being a big jerk, I say seize the day.

Personally, I have one resolution this year, to pass the Reading Instruction Competence Test (RICA) which is one of the big hurdles ahead before I can become an elementary school teacher.

As soon as I finish those chocolates I’ll start studying.


The rain this week was nice, but we’ll need more of it before we have enough. Normally, late fall is a really good time to buy new perennial plants for the garden. The rains come, roots grow, flowers arrive in the spring. However, if you planted something in October, those plants sat there and withered. Sure, many plants are dormant now, but your plants may also be dead.


The dreaded D word came up during a party I attended before Christmas. For some reason, we whispered the word “drought,” in that way one lowers their tone when asking about an absent, estranged husband.

It’s too early to talk about dreaded words, but my friend who is an almond farmer said she’s already irrigating her orchard. She opened her eyes wide with worry and spoke in a hushed tone. I dared not ask about the groundwater elevation in her well.

In December, it was dark when I left the house and dark when I got home. I should have also noticed that it was dry and that my potted plants were dying.

Luckily, I dragged the hose around the patio before I lost anything with sentimental value.

Paul Rogers, one of my favorite reporters from the dreaded drought years, reports that it’s too early to become really, really worried about dry weather. We still have January and February (and March) before we think about putting the 5-gallon bucket back in the shower. Yet, I’m glad I didn’t spend all my Christmas cash on new bare-root fruit trees.

Tuesday, reporter Laura Urseny noted that Chico folks have still been conserving water vs. pre-drought days, which makes me think all of those lawn-to-drought-garden conversions have permanently reduced local water use. Or maybe more people are forgetting to water their plants.

The bottom line is that if you haven’t checked your plants lately, give them a drink. Fill up the bird bath while you’re at it.

The upside to wacky weather has been that we also have not had a really hard freeze. When I watered my potted plants, I noticed the Vinca rosea was still flowering. Normally at this time of year the cold weather has turned this summer beauty to mush. I don’t know whether to enjoy the extra blooms, or go back to worrying.

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