A few New Year reflections on chronic illness

Instead of New Year resolutions, I reflect on the past year, aim to do better this year, and focus my time and energy to that goal. This is, in a way, a resolution but it’s more amorphous than “I will not lose my temper with X.” Every year I’ve done this, the time involved keeps expanding while the energy part seems to be remaining the same.

New Year’s resolutions are just not me. Sure, I tried them when I was still in high school and promptly forgot to do them.  Periodically I’d try again as an adult. But like most of us, I stopped keeping it/them by February. Nowadays there’s enough failure in the lives of people with a chronic illness without adding to it with resolutions that won’t be kept.

Instead of resolutions for 2018, I reflect on the past year and use those thoughts to focus my life in the new year. For example, much of my spring, summer, and fall are consumed with gardening.

tomatoes in straw bale garden
Tomato, kale, and pepper plants from my straw bale garden. I put old carpet down between the rows.

In 2016 I had a large straw bale garden. Reflecting on this in 2017, I saw that while I had an outstanding harvest the previous year, I didn’t save much money over buying my produce at the many farmers’ markets in the area. So my focus was going to be expanding the garden to grow in soil and canning tomatoes.

I found an online 4′ x 8′ raised cedar garden bed and aimed to grow beets, summer squash, carrots, lettuce/mesclun, a few marigolds for insect control, stevia and bush beans. I also planted tomatoes in a 13′ row, runner beans, daikon radish, watermelon, muskmelon, winter squash, and two rows of potatoes. (A generous young man answered my ad for gardening help two years ago when he was a senior in college. Shawn stays on, even though he moved an hour away, and does the digging, some more difficult transplantings, and raking.)

Reflecting on the garden

This year, my reflections are still focussed on the garden and “putting food by” as my grandmother called it. Expanding the garden to three 13′ rows–tomato, potato, and daikon–while also trying square foot gardening in the raised bed took a lot of work initially and throughout last summer and fall. I also planted peas and beans on separate trellises. I would work for an hour or four, depending on my spoons, and then sit and swing on the porch with a refreshing beverage and my Kindle.

My reflections on the growing season in 2018? Potatoes are off the list for the upcoming season…or at least not 26 feet of potatoes.  Since I’m low carb, it will take hubby years to finish the ones harvested last October. Plus, I can buy organic fingerlings at the farmers’ market for about 50 cents/serving. Same with beets and carrots, which did not do well in the raised bed.

Seed catalogs began arriving before Christmas and now I get at least two with every mail delivery. I save seeds from packets purchased earlier and also from my own growing efforts. It’s likely I won’t need to buy any seeds this year. It’s a good thing I have this blog to occupy my time or I would be planning a huge garden with exotic plants (exotic for Zone 4a, at least) to tuck into microclimates.

What are your garden favorites? Do you have enough spoons for an outdoor garden in soil or do you, as I did for years, use containers on a porch or steps?

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