I devoted a good deal of time last Saturday to cutting the bittersweet from the deer fencing around my vegetable garden. It is so ambitious and is threatening to bring down the fence with its weight. Here is a case of do what I say and not what I do. I should have bagged it for the landfill or burned it but, no! I just cut and dropped, assuring me of having to contend with it next year. I guess one could refer to the practice as job security.

I also spent time getting the vegetable garden in order. I spread several bales of hay so the planting next spring will be relatively simple. What with my gardening business chores, spring is a busy time. However, getting food into the ground is a top priority.

Seed catalogs have been arriving at an alarming rate. I believe I have been finding them in the mailbox since late October. Didn’t we used to settle in after Christmas to peruse, dream and look forward to next season? Liz at SBS has a fine assortment of next year’s seeds from Johnny’s. Perhaps picking up a few packages here and there when purchasing animal feed will make it easier on the wallet.

I did spend a bit of time looking through Pinetree Garden Seeds (my favorite). This year all the heirlooms are noted with the date of origin. I love the little histories of each vegetable variety. Last summer I had great success with the Tennessee Sweet Potato squash. It goes back to the 1850s. It only takes 95 days to mature, is pale yellow in color and the texture is quite creamy. It averages about 15 pounds. I pressure canned 18 pints of it from four medium-sized fruits plus ate it for several days. I still have one left that the granddaughter, Violet, painted for Halloween. Also I have tons of spaghetti squash remaining. It has never been a favorite of my sons. They accuse me of having no taste buds because of my fondness for it. I peel it raw and put the chunks into soups or bake it without the seeds and fork the flesh out of the skin as a pasta substitute. It is good with pesto.

A lively dozen of us met last Sunday at the Howes House to discuss vegetable gardening. This month the topic was soil management. We all shared our sundry methods of composting. We learned that soil microbes can be destroyed by chemical fertilizers. Earthworms live on microbial protozoa. Stop using petroleum-based fertilizers and start feeding the soil with organic material.

Sumner Silverman was kind to share cuttings from his Brown Turkey fig tree. He gave us propagation tips and growing information. The next meeting of Homegrown will be Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. at the Ag Hall. We will be pouring over seed catalogs. Any and all gardeners and would-be growers are welcome.

I saw a great bumper sticker — Use the good China!! and have decided to dust mine off and start using it. Why wait for a few meals a year? I have a wonderful set that came from England by way of Canada with my great-grandmother Griffin (my maternal grandmother’s mother). I remember her. I had seven of my eight great-grandparents when I was born. She was the last to go, when I was in my late teens.

I have been watching the news of the big three automakers. I can’t figure out why they keep threatening job loss while every picture of the manufacturing plants shows robots doing the work. Didn’t FDR save the auto industry by having them make tanks and planes during World War II? How about putting the robots on unemployment, people back to work manufacturing fast transit trains and buses and all of us make do with the vehicles we have for a few years . . .