Category Archives: Gardening Friends

GARDENING FOR GOOD

This summer I’ve been dividing my gardening days

Between two gardens.

It’s the first summer that Faith Farm

Has been an all volunteer effort.

It was a leap of faith.

What a fun

And rewarding leap.

We started the season with a plan

Put together by my fellow gardeners

Jim & Michael.

It’s an ambitious three season plan

Since we have a 9 month growing season.

We started harvesting lettuce

In March.

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And we haven’t stopped.

200 lbs of lettuce

120 lbs of gorgeous carrots

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More basil than all of Italy

and almost 900 lbs of cucumbers.

Wow what a year.

We have literally grown well over a ton of vegetables.

All of this done by a dedicated group

Of volunteers.

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Including a few Master Gardeners.

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Twice a week they harvest this bounty

And take it to Loaves & Fishes

Where it is then given

To our hungry neighbors.

Several times a year

Jim offers  gardening classes

To the L & F clients.

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And every so often

We have a Saturday work day

To catch up on the big jobs.

Yesterday was one of those work days.

We had an ambitious list

OK…we had an impossible list.

Thanks to a few new volunteers

We got most of the big jobs done.

Morning glories pulled off the fence

Before they set seed.

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Bolted basil pulled, dried and ground into mulch.

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Ground pecan hulls put on the paths.

And soil added to beds.

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Then there was the shed.

Michael spent the morning organizing it.

Thank goodness.

These are not glamorous gardening jobs

But they are essential.

And feel good to have done.

Along the way we made a few new friends

Loaves & Fishes board member Randi

Brought her family.

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Including her son

Who got to meet Charlotte

Our resident Orb Spinner Spider

She’s been “hanging” around

Since July.

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He also found caterpillars and praying mantis.

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It’s always a good day when you can introduce

A child to the wonders of nature.

And do a little

Gardening for Good.

Gail

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Basil, Bugs, Carrots, Children in the Garden, Community Garden, Compost, Cucumbers, Fall Vegetables, Garden Planning, Gardening Friends, Herbs, late summer garden, Lettuce, Morning Glories, Nature, Orb Spider, Uncategorized, Vegetables

THE BASIL RITUAL

There’s a rhythm about fall that seems to be well, common.

At least among my friends.

With our first freeze predicted for Halloween

I began cutting basil on Thursday

And again on Friday.

Buckets of basil.

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I always plant too much

Which means I have basil to spare

For months on end.

I use it during the growing season.

But by October it’s giant and going to seed everywhere.

Yet I feel that none of it can go to waste.

I either have to dry it

Or make pesto

Or find it a home.

Pesto is my first plan of attack.

So on Friday

When the weather men were issuing their threatening forecast.

My sister Ann called and said.

“So I’m guessing you’re making pesto.”

And I was.

She’s in the same place I am.

With way too much basil.

But she has the advantage of being able to feed her extra.

To her bunnies.

I on the other hand

Do not have hungry bunnies living at my house.

So when a friend dropped by with  a cape for Coco to wear for Halloween.

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She was rewarded with bonus basil.

Others who dropped by were also given the chance

But most declined.

I thought of bagging it up in little bags and giving it out

To the 400+ kids who came trick or treating.

But there might be potential for misunderstanding there!

I’ve now made 3 batches of regular pesto

3 C. packed fresh basil leaves

1/3 C. grated parmesan cheese

6 cloves chopped garlic

6 T toasted Pine nuts

4 T olive oil

Put all ingredients into food processor.

Pulse till well chopped but not a puree.

Spray ice-cube tray with non-stick cooking spray.

Freeze.  Then store cubes in plastic bag.

It’s about a tablespoon or 2 of pesto.

And a couple of roasted red pepper and sun-dried tomato pesto.

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3 medium red bell peppers 0r 1 jar .

12 sun-dried tomatoes – soaked and drained

1 clove garlic chopped

3 T roasted pine nuts.

a handful of fresh basil leaves.

A handful of fresh Italian parsley

Juice of 1 lemon

2 T grated parmesan cheese.

Prepare like basil pesto

I’ve also been roasting and freezing the last of the ripe tomatoes.

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All of which is giving our house

A rather Italian aroma.

Now…what to do with all those

Peppers and green tomatoes.

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And in the end

It didn’t even freeze!

Gail

The other fall ritual I love

Is sharing plants with friends

Kay and Tori came by on Saturday morning.

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To dig the last of the ferns.

New plans for this area

Come spring.

 

 

 

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Filed under Basil, Fall Vegetables, Gardening Friends, Green Tomatoes, Herbs, Peppers, Pesto, Pettit Basset Griffon Vendeen, Tomato, Uncategorized, Vegetables

FAMILY VOLUNTEERING DAY V.2

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Yesterday was time for fall clean up

At Faith Farm.

It’s been an astounding first year of

“Gardening for Good”.

We will soon surpass 3,000 pounds of fresh organic produce

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Grown for Loaves & Fishes

And given to our hungry clients each week.

Freshly picked, organic produce

Given to people who otherwise might not have food on the table.

Week after week, Charity and a small group of volunteers

Have harvested literal 1 1/2 tons of food.

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And it’s a good thing

Since July was the busiest month ever at L & F

Serving 954 households…YIKES!

But we want to do more

With the space we have.

So yesterday we began a simple transition

From less ornamentals

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To more raised beds.

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We moved some from L & F

Over to Faith Farm

And set them in place

With the help of Jim

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Our perennial volunteer

And a couple of friends from the Air Force base.

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We were also joined by a group of young women

From the 2020 club at Chisholm Middle School

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They’ll graduate in the year 2020

Which gives us lots of time to train them

As gardeners.

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They have great potential

Because even a big ole tomato horn worm

Didn’t scare them.

Instead they were fascinated.

Gotta love girls who likes bugs!

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They were all great help

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So I hope they’ll be back

Another day

For another installment

Of this great adventure.

Feeding the hungry

Fresh, organic vegetables

And lots of love.

Gail

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Filed under Bugs, Community Garden, Fall, Fall Vegetables, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Lettuce, Raised Beds, Uncategorized, Vegetables

EASTER – CHILDREN – GARDENS

Sometimes holding an annual event

Can be well…dicey. Expectations increase.

People can get tired of the same thing.

The odds for good weather decrease.

Not so if children are involved

And Easter eggs filled with candy. DSCN3793

So, yesterday we hosted the 3rd

I’d say it’s safe to say Annual 1st Presbyterian Church Easter Egg.

Each year Kay, master of children’s  Christian education

Mixes things up a bit. DSCN3730

And this year we decided to invite the families

Of our neighboring church St. Matthews Episcopal.

We have been lucky with the weather all these years.

And this year was no exception. DSCN3766

It was a glorious afternoon.

And to top it off The Redbud trees were still in full bloom

Providing a marvelous backdrop for

The blanket of tulips leading up to the garden house. DSCN3752

Now you realize this is just luck.

No gardener has any say about when things bloom in the spring.

And if you try to plan it – it simply will not happen.

So you might as well just give it up

And hope for the best.

This is an attitude I’ve had to learn.

Fortunately, I had an excellent teacher.

My mother was the most relaxed hostess I’ve ever known. SCAN0001

Oh she would get “flustered” as she would say.

But she learned during the wild ride of her life.

To relax and enjoy it.

So yesterday as 50 or 60 children

(We don’t really know how many came.)

Were running through the garden. DSCN3781

Releasing lady bugs DSCN3736

Listening to the resurrection story DSCN3756

 

Exploring the compost pile

Trying out the  chimney of the outdoor fireplace

And gathering Easter Eggs DSCN3768

One child brought back a wonderful memory of my mother

And the grace that she showed so many people during her life.

It happened during a family Sunday School Class party

Of many of these very people.

It was in the late 1980’s and we decided to have the party

At my parent’s home in the city.

Big house – big yard – big draw.

Dozens of us showed up and swarmed the place. Image (4)

At one point several young mothers were standing in the kitchen

Visiting with mother as Cristina, maybe 3 or so

Appeared with a bouquet of flowers for the hostess.

Freshly picked from her own flower beds.

Beth, her mother, turned ashen.

Mother bent down and thanked

And likely hugged Cristina.

She was thrilled with the gift.

So yesterday

When I noticed Kay’s granddaughter

Walking along the garden house path

Snapping off tulips DSCN3798

I smiled

Then laughed

What a gift this memory is.

Children and Gardens and God.

If you don’t have children to invite into your garden.

I hope you’ll find some

To teach about nature

And grace.

Happy Easter,

Gail

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Filed under Easter Baskets, Easter Egg Hunt, Garden House, Gardening Friends, Redbud Trees, spring, Spring Flowering Bulbs, tulips

IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Saturday morning dawned cool, cloudy.

And sad.

Sloan dubbed them “mean teenagers”

The group that swept through our neighborhood

Stealing and smashing pumpkins Friday night.

Two solid block of streets littered with pumpkin parts.

And little girl’s broken hearts.

Since they smashed the pumpkin

Sloan had grown from seed.

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In the early morning dampness

We all dragged our poly carts out and cleaned up the mess.

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Shortly after that

The sun came out.

And the day began again.

This was the weekend I’d set aside for planting tulips

In the new bed at the front landing.

You may recall I ordered these

From a new (to me) catalog

Called “Colorblends”.

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Because I hadn’t ordered from them before.

I was a little nervous

Would they be big and firm?

What you need to grow glorious tulips

Come spring.

I was not disappointed.

They are great.

I followed my tried and true method of bulb planting.

Plant lots in a smallish place.

It gives you a burst of color

And stops people dead in their tracks.

Guess I have to confess and give an exact example.

Okay, I bought 500 tulips for this new bed

The L shaped bed is approximately

One foot wide by eighteen feet long.

And if you’re planting that many bulbs

You won’t dig 500 holes.

Dig a trench

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Placing the dirt in a wheel barrow

Or on a tarp close by.

My trench was about 4″ – 6″ deep.

I’ll plant annuals here after the tulips fade.

Which means they will likely rot

From summer’s watering.

So I consider them an annual.

And don’t plant them too deep.

Once the trench is dug

Sprinkle bone meal

Then mix it with the loosened dirt.

Place the bulbs point end up

Close together but not touching.

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Refill the trench.

Gently at first to keep from knocking the bulbs over.

Pack it down from time to time

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You should be able to replace all of the dirt.

This year I’m over-planting

With solid purple pansies.

There’s a lot of yellow in this tulip mix

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So I’m thinking the complimentary color scheme

Will be fun.

Now you may recall I’ve written a similar blog

Each fall at this time.

But this year is different

New bed

New tulips

From a new source.

And…you may also recall

That my tulip planting buddy Megan.

Married and moved to Florida.

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Where I’m guessing

She won’t be planting any tulips

In her zone 9 flower beds.

I missed you Megan

Both your help and our conversation.

Some new helpers arrived

Dressed in their cowboy boots

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After attending “Family Farm Day”

At the museum.

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Interesting concept here in the farmbelt

That you go to the museum to learn about the farm!

They may be city girls

But they are not afraid of dirt.

They helped me refill the trench.

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Having a great time

Throwing the dirt.

In the trench

On each other

And in those cute new cowboy boots.

Today we added the purple pansies.

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And watered it all in.

Megan’s sister Katie refers to this

As “the enchanted neighborhood”.

She’s moved back to raise her family here.

Saturday proved her right.

It’s not perfect.

Clouds will roll in.

Your pumpkin may get smashed.

But even a four-year old will bounce back.

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And bask in the community and love

Of this neighborhood.

Gail

“The connections we make in the course of a life–maybe that’s what heaven is.”
Fred Rogers

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Filed under Fall, Fred Rogers, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Lady Bugs, Pansies, Pumpkins, tulips, Uncategorized

PEG

I have been blessed

With two wonderful garden dogs.

The first was a West Highland Terrier

Named Popcorn.

She ruled over my last garden.

But it is Peg who has been my buddy

My assistant, my companion

All the days I have gardened here.

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Peg loved my garden.

When we first created it

We had a pretty healthy bunny population.

Each spring she would spend hours searching

For bunnies.

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You could tell how hot her trail was

By the speed of her wagging tail.

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After Peg caught a couple of baby bunnies

They found other places to play.

Bugs on the other hand

Are prolific in a garden.

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Each evening with the cooler summer air

Peg would spend hours on end “Buggin”.

Hopping and bouncing hoping to catch

One more cricket.

There would be nights when she was so deep into the blackness

That I simply had to patiently wait for her to finish

Before I could entice her in.

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Now if you are thinking of Peg as a typical dog.

You would be right in some regards.

But, Peg was after all a Scottish Terrier.

And Scottish Terriers are very independent by nature.

Peg got a double dose!

Curious and friendly

Those who met her instantly connected with her sweet nature.

But a few minutes in Peg was done.

No need for all that oohing and awing.

Not being an “in your face dog”

Peg would park herself on the opposite

End of the couch.

Close, but not actually touching.

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And so it was in the garden

She was always with me

But rarely in the way.

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She did love to eat

Basically anything that hit the floor.

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Especially crispy veggies.

One spring she not only ate the snap peas

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She also helped herself to the tasty vines.

She loved watching the

Westminster Kennel Show.

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A few weeks ago

After her summer vacation in Colorado

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Peg got sick.

Though she tried

She simply couldn’t recover.

It was a grueling decision for John and me.

But it was time to let her go.

A kindly local vet offers cremation services

Which seemed right for Peg.

Recently John and I spread her ashes

In her favorite place

The garden.

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John wrote a poem for the occasion.

Reminding us of her nature

True to herself to the end.

Goodbye, sweet Peg,

Thanks for the days of companionship

In my garden.

Gail

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LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH

Regal and royal,

For nothing I beg.

Not feline but canine.

I am the “Peg”.

Aloof to all others,

A Scottie by breed.

Ignoring your voice,

Neglecting your heed.

A lick or a nuzzle,

For you is unsure.

My bloodline prevents it,

What’s yours?  Is it pure?

Praise for my plumage,

On a neighborhood walk.

My head held high,

No time to talk.

Drawn to the garden,

Stalking crickets galore.

Bright flowers bow to me,

It is “Peg” they adore.

A pat or a scratch,

I quickly discard.

One shake and it falls of,

No thanks or regard.

As my nature demands it,

Engrained daily or such.

I say it quite firmly,

Look but don’t touch.

Goodbye Queen Peg

John

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Filed under Gardening Friends, Scottish Terrier, Uncategorized

MAXINE’S VASE

If you are going to grow flowers

You’ll eventually need a vase

Or two………….dozen.

Somewhere over the last few decades

I developed the habit

Of finding old vases

At garage sales

And estate sales.

At first I wanted crystal vases.

That’s what my mother had

And now her vases grace my dining room china cabinet.

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Mother loved crystal.

And so do I.

Then early in our marriage

John & I ventured to Europe.

Where we discovered pottery

In Florence

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And Barcelona

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And lugged a bit of it home.

But my vase collecting

Really kicked in after we settled in here

And began to make connections with people

Of all ages.

Many of these were women I knew from church.

It seems when you’re a Presbyterian in these parts.

You have a long

And interesting life.

So as these and other ladies around town died

I would go to their estate sale

And find a single thing

That would remind me of them.

The first was this vase

From Gladys.

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Gone now probably 30 years

I still remember her spunky nature.

Eventually I focused my purchases

On painted pottery from the 40’s and 50’s

McCoy is the best known brand

Thus you can find many knock offs

Of their soft color palette.

I’m partial to white, yellow, soft blue and lime green.

My mother in law’s blue pitcher is a favorite

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Along with a yellow vase my friend Marilyn

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Brought from her mother’s home in Louisiana.

Then there is this terrific lime green Claire Lerner

That I found at a neighbor’s garage sale

At a cost of $1.25!

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I have two rules.

Don’t go crazy on price $10. – $15.

Is usually my max.

And you have to know where you are going to store it

Before you bring it home.

The second rule has forced me to slow down a bit

Since my garden house cupboards are filling up.

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So it was this history

That followed me to the estate sale of

My friend, my neighbor, my fellow Presbyterian

And wise women extraordinaire

Maxine Sanford Austin.

Maxine died this year at the age of 102.

Her life

And her home

Were filled with treasures.

She was a poet

A teller of tales

A loyal friend

And fiercely opinionated.

I just loved her.

When she married in 1933

Her mother made her wedding veil.

Long and trailing

With lace flowers embroidered on it.

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Her daughter Ann wore it in 1961

And Maxine wore it when she married again in 1993…

At the age of 80 something!

She was both traditional

And non traditional

All rolled into one.

It took me three trips of wondering through her home

To find my memory memento of Maxine.

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I can’t tell you anything about this particular vase

I’m guessing it was from her mother’s travels.

She told me once that after her father died

Her mother began traveling around the world.

It’s very different from any other vase I own.

Doesn’t fit the mold.

Won’t have a shelf of similar stuff to join.

It’s unique.

It’s Maxine.

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AWARENESS

by Maxine Sanford Austin

In every day we have, dear Lord,

Let us truly see

The things we should:

The flight of bee.

The flash of bird,

Sun on a brilliant flower,

Then thunder heard

Before a sudden shower.

In all things, dear Lord,

Let us truly know

That this is Thy World

And in our actions show

That we truly know.

Thanks Maxine,

Gail

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Filed under Flower Arrangements, Garden House, Gardening Friends, Gardening Mentors, Hydrangea, Uncategorized, Vases