Sow There! Good-bye old year, let’s try not to do that again, Jan. 4, 2019

How do you know when it’s time to tear out the tomato plants? When they look like this. (Heather Hacking — Contributed)
January 4, 2019 at 4:30 am

A new year.

I’m characteristically hopeful, but I can’t shake this feeling of tragedy overload.

Sometimes I wish there was a gate you could close on bad memories. The padlock would be heavy. You could turn your back, take a few steady strides and all the sour memories would be sealed.

I felt this way last year. At the end of 2017, I was in my jammies at midnight, watching Netflix. The sound of distant parties, barking dogs and fireworks thumped against my closed door.

“I’m quietly celebrating,” I wrote in my journal that night, “not so much for the New Year, but for the end of 2017.

“If I have one word for 2017 it is ‘mourning.’ The cat’s gone. The Handsome Woodsman is gone. My brother is gone. I’m glad 2017 is gone.

“Luckily, each day, each New Year, brings …”


That’s where the journal entry ended. I didn’t have enough energy to finish my thoughts.

The year brought bright, new things. Indeed, 2018 was a great year. I finished school, landed a teaching job, met new, wonderful people and fell in love with bright-eyed children.

It was a great year, until it was not a great year. The Carr Fire tore through the hills and jumped the Sacramento River in Redding. The Camp Fire shredded Paradise. So many pieces of so many things are still floating in the atmosphere. Each day, new stories surface about struggles and small steps forward.

I hope I’m not foolish by being hopeful that this next year will end on a good note.

Yet, this year I did not sit alone in my jammies as the clock turned. For 2019 I sang Auld Lang Syne around a patio fire pit. We waved sparklers and wrote wishes in the air. My friend Bitz and I shared sweet stories about life’s highlights, and the only thing we lamented was that we don’t find enough time to talk until 2 in the morning.

I can’t control how this new year will end, but I’m glad that it began with something worth writing in my journal.

Starting off new in the garden

2018 wasn’t the best year for my garden. Fall was the season of neglect. The smoke was the final excuse I needed to let things go.

It was only this week I tackled the tangle of tomatoes in the raised bed. The vines were grizzled by this time, gray like the skies that recently hung as low as our moods.

On a bright, chilly morning I turned the soil and added a few bags of steer manure. I let a few partially-red tomatoes remain, and perhaps they will grow.

Lime tip

In my last interview with Jerry Mendon, before the wise garden-man died, we talked about adding lime to the garden bed. In the past I had trouble with blossom-end rot. My zucchini and squash would blossom and small fruit would grow. Then I would be bummed when the fruit shriveled.

Jerry said to add lime to the soil, and to add it in the fall.

I wouldn’t say last year was a bumper crop, but the fruit didn’t shrivel.

Adding lime in the fall allows the mineral to work its way into the soil, Jerry said. It’s winter now, but better late than never.

It doesn’t take much. If my garden bed is 8-by-4, I might need just a little more than a cup.

As the winter wears on I’ll add some compost from the bottom of that pile or buy a few bags at a big box store.

School garden

During the break from school I’ve spent time in my classroom. The children love books, but they forgot my valid instructions about how to put them away. I have a new lesson planned on how to scrub crayon markings from the beige desktop laminate.

To take a break, I sometimes visit our school garden. Our rows of potted sugar snap peas are mostly alive in the greenhouse. A few have died, which will be a good lesson on life and the statistics of yield loss. I’m glad there will be something special for the children when they return from the winter break.

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