Sow There! When in doubt, remember what you read and write, Jan. 11, 2019

Not only do I save previously-written columns, I save re-usable imagery. This bowl of grapes is from the garden in late July 2018. (Heather Hacking — Contributed)
January 11, 2019 

One really good thing about being a writer is that I can learn from myself.

This week my garden writing inspiration was on the lean side. To be quite honest, my daydreams did not go much further than staying under the down comforter and listening to the rain. Also, my days of sleeping late ended when the current semester of teaching began.

Under the tilted rays of the sun these days, I leave the house weekdays at first light. When I return, the solar lamp on my front porch is dim, leaving me to fumble for the front door keys.

It’s all good. I worked in my garden during the winter break.

I keep a blog of previous columns, I don’t really envision that many people know it’s there (years and years of garden knowledge and outdated quips). My guess is that even fewer people read that information. However, I post my columns so that I have a personal online record. It comes in handy when I can’t remember what to do in January, or if I have not recently toured my garden in daylight.

In January, 2015, I wrote about coming home from a trip and noticing that the daffodils were getting ready to bloom.

Oh, right. Daffodils.

Once upon a time, before I was a teacher, I planted daffodils in 10-gallon fabric pots. This was years ago. I have grown to know that daffodils can return year after year.

The thing about bulbs, however, is that the flowers bring intense joy for about two weeks in the spring. After the big show, the leaves slowly begin to turn from very-alive green to a color of brown that is tempting to toss into the green waste can.

I learned that if one plants bulbs in fabric pots, one can easily drag the containers across the pavement and tuck them out of sight in the north-facing shadow of the elderberry tree.

This is still a big job, and my fabric pots are 10- and 15-gallons. But if you’re diligent, they’ll slide across the pavement once you gather momentum. Unlike plastic, tightly-woven black fabric does not turn brittle after years in the sun.

When I cruised around the garden in late December, I noticed that many of the bulbs had sprouted. If the sun-deprived greenery could speak, I would have been harshly reminded to move the pots to a sunny location. Yet, I was busy, don’t you know, and lazy that day.

I haven’t bothered to look again, but my guess is that the daffodils will be just fine. It’s time to move them into a place where they won’t be overlooked.

Blog reader

Perhaps I was reminded to check my secret blog when a reader sent me some fan mail. Her name is Anna and we bonded via email right away. I liked her because she said she liked my column, that I amused her, and because she had bothered to write. It sounded like she was researching ways to kill snails in her yard, and had tracked me down in a mountain of search engine results.

I shared all that I knew about killing snails, which was actually a lot. I told her about stomping around in rainstorms, wearing washable rubber garden shoes and using a miner’s headlamp. I told her about the pros and cons of tuna cans filled with beer for snail traps, and putting a rim of copper tape around raised beds. Mostly, I told her how stomping snails is a lot like eating potato chips — the satisfaction of that crunching sound can be addicting.

I ended by telling her to think about adding ducks to her back yard.

I’m a teacher now. My children love snails. They want two or a dozen snails as class pets. When we have garden work days at school, they gather the snails and gently places them by the fence. I can’t continue to relish in the idea of killing such lovely creates. Alleviating a snail problem through the use of ducks is much more suitable for lessons about the life cycle in the garden. Yet, I think Anna and I both know there are other options.

Another January tip

Prune your grape vines.

I did this months ago — before Thanksgiving break.

My buddy Mark Carlson gave me advice on pruning grape vines several years ago. For some reason, when Mark tells you something its memorable. He also has produced inspiring videos on pruning trees and roses available at Last year, for example, he reminded me to add compost to my grape vines ( as well as a good tree and vine fertilizer. The same advice will help your fruit trees this time of year.

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