Friday, December 7, 2012


This season's new and wonderful plant surprise is brussels sprouts. I started with ordered seeds. They germinated, I planted them and the birds ate most of the seedlings. Then, one Saturday morning, in a fit of frustration I made Scott drive me (I couldn't even muster the strength to drive because I used it all to have the fit) to Bell's Garden Center in Fayetteville to buy fall plants. The fit was a whole lot like the Witch of the West melting scene. I really did lose it. It was all about work, being too tired to do the things I enjoy and my garden. It was one of those bad to worse kinda days. Ooo, bad. But. All is well, now. The store bought broccoli was delicious. The big box kale is tasty and the brussels are making little knobs that are cute as can be. And check it out; who knew brussels sprouts are frost hardy? Not us. So cool. I'm guessing we are going to harvest some of the best, tender, sweet and yummy orbs in the short, dark days of winter.

Note to self: Get a hair cut and grow a beard before going back to Bell's. I really was a mess that day. Very edgy. Phew.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lumber River Fun

What's hap'nin?!
Thanksgiving and the 15th Annual Black Friday Black Water Princess Ann Festival again. Both were very, very nice. 
I made a pecan pie, then Katie made another one. Brilliant! Scott fried a turkey. Brilliant! We ate kale from the garden. Brilliant! That was Thanksgiving.

 On the third day, Black Friday, we piled canoes, kayaks, dogs, food and people into cars and trucks and high tailed it to The River, again. We really don't know how long we've done it but one year Hanna tipped over in her kayak and lost her glasses. Another year Will brought a friend, last year his sweetie. Richard's mom and dad came one year. Dana lives on in our memories, now. Megan, Brandon, Dee and Walt came at least twice. Once when the kids were very young and again when they were old enough to pilot the boats independently. That was a really fun day. We played pirates on the and attacking each other on that warm Indian summer day. Lawrence came one year. We showed him where we find Indian artifacts. Jonathan hasn't been in many years but that last year he went out in the canoe with me. I remember as if it were just last week. Katie has filled in twice as the only kid. Both times there were rousing games of horse shoe. She wins every year. Focus. She has focus and form. This years pics...

Click on the picture above and you will see dozens of turkey vutures returning to their evening roost. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

School makes me boring and I don't get to garden either...

Our garden looks a mess. Should I quit my perfectly good and well paying job to stay home, garden, play with the cats, and walk the dog? Gentle reader, do tell. I know the answer but my mind rebels. A sick day might sooth the weary soul. Hmm. Or I could really fake it and make it two.
Middle class is not what I thought it would be and poor ole Lumberton has shrunk up like the imaginary town in "Cars".  For a solid year after the movie I would cry to the soulful song "Our Town" sung by our own James Taylor. I still listen to it when I'm feeling sorry for our southeastern NC tiny towns that have lost mostly every thing but criminals, attorneys, teachers and preachers. If we didn't have poverty we wouldn't have a hospital and those jobs would go aways too.  Thank God for Obama's stimulus money: they finally paved the streets in my neighborhood so the cars don't go rattling by anymore. Now, they go "swooOOOoooosh".
This Saturday morning ramble is a sad procrastination. In all fairness, it is too dewy to get out there and do the dastardly and pull out half dead tomatoes, beans and zinnias with still pretty flowers.
...just in via text: Joy The Neighbor's Silkie just laid her first egg.  And it's a beauty folks! Now I'm all moody again, because I know if I can't keep up with the garden, no way I can do chickens. Ah, the plight of the working class urban gardner. Pish.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cruciferous!? Yuck. Oh, right, broccoli. My favorite!

Wow. The broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprout seeds germinated in record time.  Cool. Guess the heat and humidity is good for something. It took will power and determination to suck it up, go outside, and go through the process of planting in our outdoor sauna. A million years of evolution made me do it. If Great Granny Lucy could do it so can I. That kind of thing.
Imagine my shock when I checked my cauliflower seedlings and saw that a bird had snacked on more than half of them. On a happier note I found twenty random parsley sprouts from the plants I let go to seed (see June posting). These will winter over in pots enhancing out winter dinners. Lovely. Looking forward to a pleasant Southern fall and a mild Southern winter.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Icky Sticky

Lots of ick factor in the garden these days. Humidity is over the top, very much like a sauna. Great for the skin not so great for vegetables and annuals. My gloom/doom prediction manifested in my zinnias so today I will be pickin' and pullin' hoping to stop the fungus from spreading immediately to melons and squashes. Powdery mildew is a death sentence for plants. Leaving them in the garden just allows the airborne spores to spread so I do it military style, "The hard, right thing."  Tomatoes show signs of all manner of pestilence: fungus, virus, bacterial infection, bugs, sudden death. Name it, they've got it. Triage is the worst part of gardening, almost. But do it! Do not fight fungus, it is the dementor of the Southern garden. It slowly sucks the life out of plants and the fight out of you. Save your energy for the coming days of Fall when the humidity drops and all living things thrive again.
On a happier note, we had stewed tomatoes and okra with dinner last night. It's something I scorned as a child when my grandmother served it. I'd been offered straight-up, slimy, stewed, grayish, okra before and no way I was going to give it a second chance. Never say, never or you'll end up eating your words and the vegetable too. Rustic, or country style, is this dish. Sauté one clove garlic in oil, pour in prepped tomatoes, chop some okra and throw it in, stir and stew on low temp about 30-45 minutes until the okra is tender.  It is wonderful with white rice, more wonderful with brown rice.

Planting and planning note: Broccoli and all it's cousins (collards, kale, cauliflower, mustard) should be planted now in our coastal NC gardens. Cicadas are calling for Fall planting!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July 1, 2014
Our veggie patches are alive despite epic heat. Truly. Epic heat. The past two days have been the hottest ever recorded on their respective dates. Thank goodness for preceding rain, ongoing watering and today a relative temperate break and overcast skies. Of course I predict gloom and doom. Powdery mildew, wilt and fungus are right round the corner. Squash bugs moved in overnight. But I am Brave!   Scottish blood flows in these veins. I squished them with my bare hands. No mercy. Alas, no picture of the carnage and I remain exasperated by my summer squash failures.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer 2012

And just like that! The snap of the cosmic fingers and we have full on, hot as hell summer. Blam. Pow. Kaboom. The heat and humidity are outstanding; 90's with not a drop of rain in sight. Those itty-bitty parsley plants? One transplanting fried, turning to crisps, in just hours because I forgot to water them in. This is a very sad thing. Very sad.  So I did it again and am watering twice a day, because I really like cooking with parsley.
I pulled out all the broccoli yesterday morning, cut cabbages, and made way for field peas. Sure wish I liked cleaning house as much as I like gardening. Not really. There's a pained, face to go with that. If I stopped gardening, I would not clean more. When I am gardening, I am learning something. When I'm cleaning, I am bored.
2012 climbers
So here is what I learned this year. Climbing green beans really are the best. There is no bending down to pick them. This is a wonderful thing. Whose idea was it that bush beans are a new, great thing? We  planted both this year, more than once because of the cutworms, and I declare the climbers prettier, easier to pick and just as tasty.
About those cutworms: Full on assault with BT, Neem oil and small twigs pushed in gently near the newly sprouted beans worked.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Our harvest is on! We are picking three seasons of growth reaping Fall plantings of garlic and onions, Spring broccoli, beans, potatoes and Summer zucchini and tomatoes. We've had timely rain, warm days, cool nights and our world is lush and green again. Birds are twittering and frogs are croaking. The fig tree is loaded with fruit, blackberries will soon be ripe for jam and we're hoping for pomegranates.
There are three rooted figs in pots on the picnic table ready to be planted. Any takers?  No apples this year...I pruned them in late winter snipping off the blossoms. Three years and we still don't have a clue what they'll look like or taste like. 
Just in from Scott...The Bunce brothers in Stedman, NC have 2.5 million tomato plants and 80 full time employees. Me? I'm happy with our small-potatoes garden. It feeds us and the neighbors.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How could I have skipped a posting in March? March absolutely pounded me, that's how. Work is so a four letter word. Moving on to happier topics.

The South is having another truly lovely Spring. This year it's all about green. La Nina brought rain, warmth, no freak frosts and our world is now a lovely, luscious green. The birds are atwitter, everything is growing and I am a happy gardner. The lettuce troops on, we planted an asparagus bed, potatoes are up, gifted tomatoes are in the ground, beans are up and the Swiss Chard is fabulous. The garlic is a perennial wonder. These are the progeny of those cloves impulsively planted on a warm Fall Saturday. Six years ago it marked the beginning of my gardening journey. Live well and prosper proud plant!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Magic Fabric

All is quiet in the garden these days. The Zen of Gardening mood has settled on us and we're in wait mode. Though, I have to admit, as I write I feel anxiety to do something. Every time I go to a store, that might have seeds, I look for and buy some if they have them. I may not have a lot of money but I am seed rich. Aldi had packets of for $.50 last week and I went crazy. I have to wonder, am I really going to grow three different varieties of tomatoes from seeds? It could happen. Maybe. At least I have hope. And speaking of hope...
Not knowing that it would be unseasonably warm, but being a person of faith, I became convinced that I could have lettuce all winter using this thin, easy to tear, magic garden fabric. (Remembering that faith is the belief in the unseen or unknown). I caved and spent money on The Magic Fabric. Johnnie's Seeds was my source. Using P Allen Smith's idea, we built 4 x 4 cedar raised beds, used some discarded heavy duty fencing as a frame for the cover, and draped the diaphanous Magic Fabric over to make little greenhouse beds. worked! We've had a steady supply of lettuce all winter. Cool.
The last bit of hopeful gardening news is...drum roll, please. The fig rooting project is a success this year. Four twigs in a jar of water with green buds and roots are ready to be planted this Spring. Last year was 100% failure, this year 100% success! And the Mission Fig, fig mission, lives on.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year, Y'all

What a year, right? I'll leave the political and economic concerns of 2011 for the press to belabor and focus on my small garden. I have opinions about government and banks but I've chosen to Occupy my garden. It is a proactive way to ameliorate the setbacks and stresses of the past few years. As far as our Southern garden grows and goes, it was overall a fantastic year. I am getting better at it and understanding what I don't understand better. Make sense of that! Here is one of the pearls I gleaned this year: you have your soil pH tested not for the blind annual chore that it is but because veggies like a pH of about .....and in our case our soil is too acidic. Well I knew that but I didn't believe it until my butternuts, zucchini and summer squash all failed simultaneously. Now I believe. I sent about an acre of soil to NC State right before Christmas and will hear soon how to fix it. It's free. Duh, me.
On this first day of the New Year 2012, ever a hopeful or superstitious Southerner, we'll have the traditional pork for luck, collard greens for prosperity, peas to honor the frugal living of those who did the backbreaking hard work of farming before us and cornbread 9no flour, no sugar, please) the traditional bread of the South. All are foods our ancestors ate seasonally. Our peas will be cowpeas from Carolina Plantations, the cornmeal is North Carolina grown and the collards are mine. I am oh so tempted to make collard sandwiches a local delicacy of fried corn pone with collards sandwiched in the middle. It is quite good and very filling.
Wishing all a more prosperous new year and the best of luck.