“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice.”

– T.S. Eliot, “Four Quartets,” 1943

Happy New Year! I’ve taken a break from gardening for a while, but the New Year brings me the urge to get into my greenhouse and stir up some new plant life. It’s also a good time to set a few gardening goals.

I’m not alone in my desire to make New Year’s resolutions. Romans started the trend thousands of years ago by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. In the 21st century, polls show that 40-50 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions; but only about 10 percent of those goals are accomplished.

To raise our chances of success, psychologists recommend setting only a few goals, making them specific and measurable, writing them down or otherwise making them public, and seeking support from others. I also read that including a vow to get more sleep increases the probability of achieving any goals because sufficient rest provides more energy and mental clarity.

With this advice in mind, here are my New Year’s gardening goals. Perhaps they will inspire you to set a few gardening goals of your own. For pictures and details, check out my blog at http://blogs.esouthernoregon.com/theliterarygardener/

1. Protect my skin. I’ve recently had a nasty experience with skin cancer on my nose. All those years of sun worshipping have caught up with me, but it’s not too late to take better care when I’m gardening outdoors. My dermatologist says the best way to protect my skin is to cover it up with UPF 50+ gloves, lightweight long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and a wide-brimmed hat that keeps the sun…