Putting the “Ugh” in an Ugly Garden

I want to tell you all about my lovely  June garden… I want to post beautifully composed photos of the peas going gangbusters, of the fresh strawberries we pick to sweeten our morning cereal,  the lovely  green beans  in full flower,  and the prairie forbes  just opening their petals to the sky.


But tell the truth and shame the Devil, my Grandma Juanita used to say. I’m a sho’ nuff knotty-headed organic gardener and I’ve got to tell it like it is.  Something is going on in my garden this year, something that puts the “ugh” in an ugly garden.   Brace yourselves.

Continue reading

Organic Pest Control Series: Links & Synopses

Friends and supporters have requested that I complete a series I began last year on Organic Pest Control.  Prior to doing so, I thought I would provide a link to the series so that new readers can familiarize themselves with my approach to the subject.  Check out:

Organic Pest Control Series: Links & Synopses.

Looking forward to the gardening season!



Grandma Juanita’s Turnip Greens and Salt Pork

I’m not fooling: my fall turnip crop is gorgeous.   I mean, knock-on-the-neighbor’s-door-and-brag-on-myself gorgeous.

I went out to the garden the day before yesterday to thin my root crops out a bit.  I wanted to make sure there would be enough room for the remaining roots to get some size on them. It wasn’t until I got the turnips and beets into the kitchen to wash them up a bit that I noticed the luscious armload of turnip greens, each one as long as my forearm, with nearly no pest damage.  Friend, one pound of self-admiration + half a pound of cool autumn weather = one Sho’nuff Sistuh, swamped in a wave of nostalgia that nothing would satisfy but a big old mess of grandma’s turnip greens with salt-pork.

Here’s how you do it.

Continue reading

The Stoopid Autumn Gardener

1) Cole crops with… wait for it… white flies?

2) Cabbage and broccoli are far tastier to rabbits in the fall than in the spring.  I want my hasenpfeffer!

3) If you’re going to grow 14 broccoli plants and 14 cauliflower plants in the fall garden, when you typically only grow 4 of each in the spring garden, you have to have 28 wire cages, instead of 8, if you want to have 28 plants by harvest time.  #mathavoidance

4) Cabbage whites in September.  Who knew?

5) You can’t harvest sunflowers with pruning shears.  Buy a machete, fool.

6) This year’s flock of chicken’s favorite mode of locomotion = flight.  #nospinach4me

7) Dear chickens: if you decide to roost in the trees at night one more time, I’m LEAVING you there for the owls.  I’m too old to climb a ladder in the dark.  Chumps.

8) Guess what?  Cole crops like cool weather. #Ireaditinabook

9) You still hafta water. #flaccidturnips.

10) Mosquitoes.  ‘Nuff said.

Sweat Gets in Your Eyes

I have always done the majority of my gardening during the spring and summer months.  September usually finds me in a gardening postpartum funk.  Green tomatoes linger on raggedy vines that straggle in the mulch.  Wildflowers slump out of bounds.  The awful lilac bushes go white with powdery mildew.

Continue reading

The Generosity Compulsion

If there is one thing that nature isn’t it’s stingy.

Can any flower match the ebullient generosity of the sunflower?

It’s autumn and the garden is a set table prepared for everyone.

The hummingbirds visit the late-blooming flowers and say grace.

We, too,  bow our heads at the groaning table.

“A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” (Luke, 6:38).

Fecund August

Of course, there are flowers in the August garden.  But the fruits of hard labor are what stand out to me this time of year.  And like a woman in the last trimester of her pregnancy, the garden looks both magnificent and worn.

Continue reading