Recognition trumps memory. I was organizing my greenhouse this week and came across several clumps of seemingly dead plants. I had no recollection of saving them for any reason. Luckily, I have an ability to search for some forensic evidence. After digging around for the roots and smelling some of the crispy foliage, I was able to identify both purple rooster Monarda and some sort of miniature hosta. This is when memory finally kicked in. I save everything in the ridiculous and yet optimistic hope that revival is possible.

This behavior stems from some experiences years ago. Once I found a huge hosta at the old Tisbury landfill. It had been tossed there not too recently. It was upside down in the sun. I rescued it, divided it into six new plants and still have them 30 years later.

I have also found that lilies-of-the-valley and daylillies will live in unplanted piles tossed into the woods over a winter. Why-oh-why is it so difficult to keep other plants alive when I give them undivided attention?

Next to unrelenting wind I am least fond of ice. Last Saturday night’s rain and snow turned all the paths into treacherous walkways. I hauled out a pair of cross-country ski poles to steady myself while doing animal chores outside. A fall can be a life-changing event at any age but we aging baby boomers are becoming especially vulnerable since we still think we are invincible.

I bullied my son Reuben to help tear apart a big greenhouse for me. The land on which it sits has settled and needs some more sand and soil to level the base. I came across a half ton of lime in it needing to be spread. Reuben was up to the task with hardly a word of complaint.

I use pellatized lime. It is easier to spread and doesn’t get into the lungs like the pulverized kind. It does take longer to break down, therefore now is a perfect time to apply it to the gardens. Winter rains and snows will mellow it into the soil to be available for spring. Lime can act as a fertilizer as well as a soil sweetener. It makes nutrients already present in the soil more accessible.

Violet and my daughter Naomi finished planting the bulbs. Sadly, most had to go on the elderly dog’s grave. We had Jackson for over 15 years and he was a grownup when we got him as a rescue. We miss him. He gave us years of entertainment. He sang his little heart out to the harmonica. He even sang if we pretended to play. Let me repeat my favorite dog quote: “There are old dogs and dumb dogs but no old dumb dogs.”

The garden point from the last paragraph is to assure you that it’s never too late to get those bulbs planted. They need only six weeks of cold weather to bloom next spring. I would suggest getting to it before the ground actually freezes. I confess I’ve poured boiling water over an area to gain access in mid-January. Don’t do as I do, trust me!

I ran into Carol Koury at the bank. She was back from Asheville, N.C. She has a wonderful new business already in its fifth year. The Sow True Seed company is both a mail order and retail store. I had just this week received the 60-page catalog. It is about to become a favorite of mine along with Pine Tree Seeds out of Gloucester, Me. If you would like a copy, call 828-254-0708 or go to

There was an article in the Dec. 26 New York Times business section entitled In Hope of Healthier Chickens, a Pennsylvania Company Adds Oregano to the Diet. For three years the Fredericksburg-based Bell and Evans company has been adding oregano oil to a specially milled diet for their birds. It is believed (with scientific evidence) that the concoction can fight off bacterial infections in mass-produced poultry. Bell and Evans is successful in part because the product is free of the antibiotics commonly used in our country’s meat production.

The overuse of antibiotics in our meat has been linked, by some, to the proliferation of so-called super-viruses like MRSA.

I have boatloads of oregano all over my gardens. It spreads like mint. I think I’ll start digging it and tossing some into the meat bird pen. My birds (fewer than 10) have never been plagued with infections but I do order the babies from a big hatchery, so who knows what they could bring with them?

The last minute fiscal cliff negotiations were so tiresome. Honestly, the government has become a bad soap opera. One of my New Years’s resolutions is to write more letters, especially to Congress. I’ve never kept my opinions to myself anyway.