Garden Duties! If We’re Lucky!

Why are we even talking about gardening. There’s a foot of snow on the ground with two storms on the horizon. Freezing cold temperatures.  Christmas and New Years were less than a month ago! Well, because planning is what gardening is all about. I have found that if I do a few things each month then I never truly feel overwhelmed. As much as I love gardening, the to do list can feel a bit daunting.

Thinking back on warmer days, Joe and I would drink a quick cup of coffee and talk about our garden duties, i.e. weeding the raised beds, planting new perennials, mulching, rearranging pots, picking lettuce, painting boxes, adding more dirt and mulch to the potatoes (yes, folks they grow up not down) and with that complete, starting up the new barbecue. On the menu were delicious, grilled chicken shish kabobs or steaks and sometimes roasted veggies – accompanied with a fresh salad from the garden. We worked from 7:30 until 5:30, the weather perfect for staying out all day. It wasn’t too hot, overly humid or maybe just mildly overcast – the sun peeking out here and there, allowing us to be comfortable while doing the work.

On Saturdays, we would buy wonderful and (sometimes strange) plants from the Farmers Market. Butterfly bushes to add more flowering plants to encourage activity from the dwindling bee community not to mention the Monarchs which love to stop by on their long migratory routes. The lily pad flowers, blooming in the pond while the plants that look like huge petaled umbrellas spread out even further than last year. (I don’t know the name as our neighbor just dropped them off one day). Speaking of gifted plants, our friends the Victorys, brought a rare plant called, Little Brown Jug (wild ginger) from Tennessee that loved the shade along with some cool looking bamboo. We already had bamboo growing but love it and always thrilled to have more.  After living in the Northwest and seeing so much bamboo, I developed quite a love affair that stays with me today.

When I tell people about the size of the garden, many times their comment is “Wow, that must mean a lot of work!”  Our reply, “If we’re lucky.”

The garden is such a reminder of what it takes to produce something worthwhile. The responsibility that falls upon the shoulders of the gardener to participate in a cohesive way so that all is ecologically balanced – giving as much as we are taking. The earth reminds us that she is here for us, if we care just a little bit and let me tell you, we have had to do our bit over the years since we didn’t have much help.  It was all up to us. But we always managed and instead of thinking about what we had to do and stressing about it, we chose to look at it as a co-creation with the earth. Doing the best that we can when we can. And because it is incredibly collaborative, we have understood that the effort and love we put into the garden, more than equals what we get back. Since everything is a metaphor for every thing, the connection is made – life is exactly what you put into it. Life works if you do. So with this memory and work ethic firmly placed in our DNA, Joe and I understand that we will work hard, hands in dirt, side by side – tilling, planting, watering and collaborating.  Mostly on bended knee, pulling weeds in a half prayer to our dear earth, that is, if we’re lucky.
From My Garden to Yours

Plan your Garden: 
Where are you planting?  How many different kinds of seeds will you need this year.

Download a Compatibility Chart:  What should be grown next to what? This will help to inform what you have room for and what you have room for.

Organize your Tools:  Clean your tools, Can you hand them on a wall in the garage and keep the organized?

Buy Supplies Now:  Might be a great time to get what you need.  With all the storms and shipping problems due to weather, might want to be an early bird so that you have everything you need.

Kale Chips and Lebanese Salad
Kale Chips New Favorite, KALE CHIPS – WOW!!!  Never believed these could taste good at all – they are TERRIFIC! Use kitchen shears to cut the kale off the stem and cut the leaves into bite-size pieces (discard the stems). Then arrange the pieces in one layer on a baking sheet (I lined mine with parchment paper), drizzle olive oil over them and then sea salt (Kroger sells in a salt shaker size grinder) grind it right over the cookie sheet. Baked on the top shelf of the oven (350 degrees) for about 4 minutes (tips start to turn brown, crinkle. YUM!! Then I scooped them off the parchment paper, dropped onto paper towel to soak up an excess olive oil. WOW!!!! I LOVE these! Just melt in your mouth. You have to try…

Lebanese Salad
5 Tomatoes chopped
1 Cucumber chopped
1-2 Bunches green onions with tops chopped
1-2 lemons Juiced
2 Bunches fresh parsley finely chopped
1-2 Tablespoon minced garlic
Mint for garnish add more if you want it in the salad
Sea salt to taste
Olive oil optional

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