Tag Archives: garden

Just call me Mr. McGregor

Hey, Peter Rabbit – yes, you and all your friends and cousins, too:

Get the heck out of my garden, you little hole-digging, lettuce chomping monsters.


I wouldn’t be bothered one bit if a bunny feasted on Russian Sage or Garlic Chives (both quite aggressive little boogers in the backyard).  But darn it, stay out of my SFG* raised beds, or else!

P.S., Bunny-boy: I saw where you came in.  Don’t make me have to take drastic action.

*SFG Square Foot Gardening #lovemelbartholomew

Mulch ado about nothing

Mulch.  I just cracked myself up!

I think “Mulch ado about nothing” is one of my best blog titles ever, because I have never ever {to my knowledge} heard it said before.  Hahahahahahhahaha!  Yes, I think it is funny.  I am probably not the first, but I am not going to google-it yet…I will enjoy my utter hilariousness for a minute or two more.

Really, I was just planning to share some very unrelated and yet interrelated ideas and thoughts I have as I meander through the suburban backyard garden.

Garden wisdom I would like to share:

1.  Mulch is a protective cover you place onto the soil around your plantings to help retain moisture, stop the weeds from horning in, avoid erosion and to make pretty.  You can buy bags of red, shredded bark for beds and borders and it looks nice, but mulch can be shredded bark or newspapers, nut shells and any number of other materials.  Even in containers, I like to mulch to discourage all that darn evaporation that happens in hot Colorado on sunny days!

2.  I am late getting started.  So what is new?  It is never too late to garden, though.

And none of us are really late.  Yes, the lilacs bloomed 5 or 6 weeks early and we have had unseasonably mild days and nights.  Yes, the stretch of 80-degrees-plus temps have made us want to hit the pools, but people, I implore you!  Remember it is Colorado.  We could have a major blizzard in May.  I hope not, but we could.  Tender veggies and flowers are safer planted after Mother’s Day.  We can sneak a few into pots, but just be ready to haul them inside at a moment’s notice!

 3.  None of has superfluous time to spend.  And that’s OK.

Just tackle a 5-minute area: clear away dead winter debris and unleash the new green.  Water a little, think about something colorful to add, and voila: off to the garden races.  If we went outside for 5-15 minutes daily and planned to just deal with a 10-to-12-square-foot area, we’d be all over the yard in no time and healthier for the fresh air.

4.  Advice: don’t create a garden too big to handle.

Let’s talk veggies.  Most of us are not gardening to support our full vegetable and fruit intake for the entire year (although I really really really think we should start thinking about living a more self-sustainable life).  But every little bit we do to feed good, clean, organic food we grow in the soil ourselves, straight from the garden to the dinner table to our families – is just a thousand times better!  But people decide to garden and then bite off more than they can chew…or weed…or keep up with.  Start small.  Even a 4 x 4′ raised bed can do wonders.  Be successful with that and then add on.

Me?  I have 3  4’x4′ garden squares and some large pots for food gardening.  I also tuck veggies into other places around the borders because they can look decorative and get needed shade.  I learned everything I ever needed to know about gardening {this is true!!}  from Mel Bartholomew’s Square-Foot Gardening.  HIGHLY recommend!

5.  Advice:  If you are going to grow tomatoes, invest the time to grow the most amazing tomatoes on your block &/or in the universe.

This is a value I wholly subscribe to.  Try all the tips and tricks you ever hear of – from tying the tomatoes to metal stakes with strips of your old pantyhose (for the electrical charge), to burying seedlings with Epsom salts for the magnesium – or whatever else you hear.  Just grow good tomatoes.  It will speak so much about your character as a human being when you can spot the perfect tiny seedling and grow it into a fruit-producing machine that will taste so good.

Oh and, an extra piece of advice for free – never let a tomato go to waste.  Never ever.  Sauce them.  Roast them,  Sun-dry them.  Freeze them.  Sandwich them, deep fry them or salsa them.  Just EAT them for the love of God and all that is holy!

6.  Extreme truth:  there is no reason to garden at all if you are not growing tomatoes.  Don’t try to debate me on this {Bryan}.  Seriously.

Pictured:  The Kelley kids making garden stepping stones for me on a Sunday morning.

The rush

Busy.  No stop-and-smell-the-roses time.  Activity swirling.  Good things.  Fun things.  Flurries of excitement.  Outbursts of thankfulness.  But, battles, too.  Violence against my heart by the enemy of my soul.  Picking up what got shattered, fully aware I possess nothing that can fix it.  Guarding the heart, o, guarding the heart.  Lord, cover me, here, when so much is at stake, when despair comes near.  Cover me.

One quick trip to the garden after a night rain.  I pull a weed that has dared to become a squatter, surely believing I won’t be around anytime soon.

Breaking the surface releases instant joy.  I smell earth.  I inhale the black, rich scent of the slightly moist soil and recklessly plunge my hand into that from whence I came.  I breathe it deeply for a second and linger for one more, my eyes closed with the sun warming the top of my very being.  I have to leave.  I have a meeting. The urgency that is propelling me, it suddenly becomes clear, will fade away.  The time I spend with my Life in the garden must increase.  I have found my place.  Deep breath.

I am merely dust.  I know my kind.  It is where I belong.

google image  But it looks a lot like what happened yesterday.

Note to self:  The garden.  Again.  Where He always meets me.  How could I forget?

What you see…

…is what you get.

Well, it wouldn’t be a normal garden season if I hadn’t brought home a plant thinking it was one thing and then finding out it was another.

This year the award goes to Home Depot for selling me a “Beefsteak Tomato” that was really:  {ta-da} a small yellow pear-shaped tomato, barely bigger than a grape-style tomato.

I don’t mind surprises in the garden.  The plant itself started sprawling like crazy, but hadn’t really produced anything before Heaven Fest.  I thought the vines were rather delicate to be a beefsteak variety.  Today, I peeked into the middle of this very populated part of the plant and pulled out a couple of pints of these little beauties.  Popped one into my mouth and o-my-gosh!  Tangy, sweet, tongue-tingling-deliciousness!

Harvest time.   Ah, yes.  I remember you and why I am so stinking in love with you!

Now to determine the best possible use for my sweet love apples {another name for tomato}.  On piping hot pasta with cream and fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano?  Perhaps a cold combination with kalamata olives and extra-virgin olive oil with home crafted mozzarella balls, freshly grated black pepper and a sprinkling of sea salt or splash of balsamic?

I must go now, to think about this most urgent need.

Tomatoes, a.k.a “Love Apples”



Lucky One

A little first-day-of-summer gardening with the Kelley kids yesterday yielded a great surprise:

Gavin has his first tomato!

He was pretty excited to have beat me.  I only have 4 tomato plants this year and he has 3, but he got the first tomato out of the deal, a tiny, green sphere getting ready to turn into a gorgeous red tomato.  Yum.  We were so happy.

Then, to Gavin’s great excitement, we noticed he also had a pepper on his little sweet pepper plant.  Glory be! 

“I’m the luckiest boy in the world!” he told us.

Be still, my melting, proud, love-filled, gooey-sweet, this-kid-is-amazing heart.  He gets the gardener in me because the same heart beats in him, too.  Gavin and I were born to be sustainable-living-backyard-farmers.  I am the luckiest Nonna in the world!

If you could see his eyes (I stink at photography), you’d know they were happy!

My latest movie project

Hunter is at the most hilarious stage.  He likes to make me laugh and will pose for pictures for me.  I caught a few before he jumped in the pool recently.  He loves pulling out his Kung Foo Panda moves.  I laugh every. single. time.

How do I Garden? Let me count the ways…


I toss aside the gloves and trowel in favor of digging deep into the hot soil with my bare hands.  This is how I really know what I am dealing with, how I really know the earth and I are in relational agreement about growing things.


I ignore the hanging rake for smoothing the garden squares by hand, for a loving touch, an encouraging pat will make the plot ever-so-much-more fruitful.


I embrace square-foot-gardening and all Mel-the-Man-himself has taught me about French-intensive gardening and nice neat little squares (4 lettuce to a 12″ x 12″, or 9 bush beans or 1 pepper plant per sqaure – I know the rules!) yet I place the seeds into my “back forty” gardens in curves or circles if I feel like it and I am not afraid to tuck radishes under the shade of a zuchini or okra if I feel the need, either.


I plant in straw bales when I want more space and I name plants after my granbebes to avoid neglect of the sweet vegetables.  I must show love for their namessakes!


I am partial to purple Petunias, if Petunias must be planted (and they must for they live in glorious flair all summer long) becasue, oh my, on the hottest days, they are so sweet in the air.  Mmmmm… seriously pungent and delightful!


I make lots of lists about which things need done first and then totally ignore them, guided instead by a meandering trip through my garden, what calls to me first, who needs my attention today?  Hello little moss roses.  Are you waiting for your summer quarters to be prepared?  Well, I think there could not be a better afternoon to get on that!  The pole beans?  They can soak a bit longer in their cup.  They’ll be fine.


I show undeserved mercy to certain weeds because they tap good resources far below.  But when they infringe, well, it cannot be tolerated.  I smile back at the dandelions, bright and yellow and so eager, and they have yet to be able to explain to me how they were not better known as dande-lambs, so gentle are they…


I garden with my whole heart, for what is ever even worth doing in life at all if it isn’t with one’s entire and whole heart?


I garden for the love…The love of fresh food and a good reason to sweat, for the love of my family who will benefit.


I garden for the joy…The joy of seeing a bare space become fruitful, for the first grilled baby zuchini, for the fresh vine-ripened tomato that will hit my tongue with such tangy force I’ll nealry faint with happiness.


I garden for the cool of the day walks with my Creator.  I hear Him ask, “Jeanie, where are you?”  I always know He is not asking for Himself, for He knows right where to find me.  But He wants to make sure I know where I am. 

There is dirt under my nails.  Sunscreen irritates my eyes.  I am red-faced and sweaty and it is nearly heaven.  Nearly.  Empty pots gathered near trays of flora are beckoning.  We will get to the next 8637 ways I garden another time…

October Skies

l (a leaf falls) one li ness  e.e. cummings


My “leaf-is-falling-but-not-really” photoshoot in the backyard. ;p



It had actually already fallen.  I was just replicating it a little {camera in my right hand, leaf stem in my left}.

I quit watering the veggies when I went to Montana over a month ago.  I have been gathering regularly ever since, as the vegetable garden seeks to proliferate madly before the end.  Then the rainy nights came and they thought they had been asked to stay a while longer.  It pains me to tell them no, but I must.  Until the spring, my sweet veggies – just until the spring…

“Well, it’s a marvelous night for a Moondance

With the stars up above in your eyes

A fantabulous night to make romance

 ‘Neath the cover of October skies

And all the leaves on the trees are falling

To the sound of the breezes that blow

And I’m trying to please to the calling

Of your heart-strings that play soft and low

And all the night’s magic seems to whisper and hush

And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush.”

 – Van Morrison, Moondance

FULL MOON on the 23rd!

My Kingdom

I venture deep into the north fence shrubs (or at least 3 or 4 feet) just before the sun breaks above the eastern horizon.  The warmth of my body and the carbon dioxide I emit arouses the mosquito, weak from the night temperatures and the lack of life in the dark. 

The alert is sounded, the village of them swells with hope. 

“Revival!” they shout. 

“We have waited for it, longed for it, prayed for it to come.  Revive us, o garden lord,” in unison the sing. 

The leader comes in close giving courage to the rest, “O, yes, we have heard of your fame – how you have fed us and revived us in the past; how you have made it possible for us to go on.  Do it again in our day, o lord of this garden.  Do it again in our day.”

Glee is apparent.  Great joy begins to swirl.  From my expansive perspective I look down as they approach.  I wait for them to land.


You wish.

Reason 187,686 that I am not God of the universe.

She is Here!

The day arrives.

Today.  is.  Tomato Day.  2010.

And you pick red tomatoes and pop cherries into your mouth.  You gather baby zucchini from the garden while crunching on crispy green beans.  You bring in fresh broccoli and snap peas and lettuce.  You pinch thyme and sage and basil.  You grill just to the point of carmelization and the sweetness of the garden lunch makes all the work heretofore quite worth it.

The reward of my labors?  Today I picked ripe tomatoes.  Can you comprehend the profundity of that?  Dare you?

Good, and I mean really good, times.

NOTE TO MY LONGSUFFERIG READERS:  Last year at just about the exact same time?  Read here!