Tag Archives: garden

Stay Away Birdies

Ripen up other green friends

What’s that hiding among all the green tomatoes?



Stay away birdies

A tomato grows in Tempe! (And a red one at that.) This weekend I listened to a great podcast discussing the Easter season and gardening — how spiritually clearing the earth and watching it bloom again coincides with the high holiday in the northern hemisphere. Regardless of your spiritual leanings, pretty sure leaving for work on a Monday morning only to find your first ripe tomato ready for the picking is a sign of many good things to come. Now, if only the birds won’t notice the harvest is ready…


Garden Spoils

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Goof ball in her element

I took back a return to REI yesterday and instead got this great hat. I’ve wanted a new hat for a while, but have been mindful of spending. Thankfully with the exchange, I got this dandy cap and a new blouse for $6. Woo! After Juliann, a friend and librarian, read the post yesterday — I realized the books I wanted were at the Phoenix Library, saving another $30.  Thank you for your detective work, J! I had a complete stamp card for the book I did purchase, costing exactly nothing. Double woo!


Remind me of pom poms

More flowers

With new accessories, I headed out to the garden. After an $8 splurge on new flowers and seeds, I cleared out the remaining cilantro and onions to make room for a new batch of basil and eggplant. I swung through Starbucks for another giant bag of coffee grounds and fed the garden. My neighbor asked if I was brewing coffee.

Nope. That’s just the way my garden smells.

Future pumpkins

Reaching for the sky

And imagine my delight when I found the pumpkins are coming up nicely! Grow little babies, grow!



Morning in the garden

Lately my morning routine starts by going to the gym, coming home and putting steel cut oats on to cook for breakfast, and then stepping outside to water the garden. I cool off from my workout while watering and talking to the the plants.  By the time they are quenched, I’m ready for a shower and my breakfast is steamy.

The first tomato!

I am trying to be more dedicated about reading the Bible. I sit down with my oats and a copy of  “One Year Bible” and enjoy 15 minutes of meditation before leaving for work. I’d like to think this is making me a more focused and kinder person. If nothing else, it is giving me a peaceful start to the day and a better understanding of my faith.  Undoubtedly, the silence alone is making me more aware of the simple joys in life I may have otherwise overlooked. I skipped this morning when I saw the first tomato growing away on its green vine.

Beautiful organic eggs

The oatmeal today had a colorful companion. Greg gave me a dozen organic eggs from the Urban Farm yesterday. I can’t wait to have chickens at the community garden. The flavor of these eggs  is unlike anything else I’ve tasted; the yolks are luxuriously creamy and thick. The perch like little golden suns.

Organic eggs

I realized this morning when taking the egg shells to the composter what an unexpected life this is. I never imagined I’d find so much happiness in baking bread, knitting gifts, gardening and or spending time with God. For those most part, these elements were in my childhood here and there, but they weren’t ever what I thought would one day would be how I define who I am.

Waiting to rise

Portuguese sweet bread

Teaching my roommate how to bake bread? Such fun. Taking two loaves, warm from the oven, to friends as gifts? Wonderful.

Before roasting

Onions out of the garden

Roasted peppers, cilantro

Salsa for friends

Homemade spicy salsa

Making homemade salsa with ingredients from my garden? Fundamentally satisfying.

Time with friends, good music, great wine, healthy, fresh food, time to be creative and time to reconnect in prayer — these are my joys. I’m happy to be finding happiness in living with less and loving what I have.


Conquering the Garden of Evil

{I am going to uncharacteristically swear like a sailor in this post; consider it thoroughly influenced by dear Finny, the gardener who got me interested in all this mother of sweet holy moses nonsense in the first place. If you don’t like the f-bomb, take cover.}

A friday night that started with the best of intentions

Friday night started so well

Planting calendar

Welcome to the last 18 hours of my life. It started out well: new seeds from the Tucson trip, nice glass of Friday-night pink girly wine, and a lovely bag of succulent and cacti clippings a friend passed along. I am just adventurous enough in the garden that a sack of new plants makes my heart leap with happiness.

Bag of cuttings

The bag of succulents

Pretty variety

Weird cactus


The sack did include some gems, but after going through my gardening stuff — I realized I needed potting soil. So, the wine waited and off I went to the nursery, where I also picked up a new hose and more worms for the composter. I came home, loaded up the new “soaker” hose and set it out on the back patio to get the earth drenched while I slept. (Couldn’t drink the wine because by the time I’d gotten home, a dozen bugs had decided to take a swim in my pink Friday treat. ) There were four large oleanders on the back section of my patio that I wanted to remove and knew I wouldn’t be able to touch them without getting the earth muddy beforehand. I turned on the hose, went out for a movie, got up and went for a hike this morning and came back to find the new hose in pieces.

Potting table, after

Soaker hoses? Fragile pieces of shit. Save your $15. Really mad I decided to buy gardening supplies in lieu of the basket at this point. The worms on the other hand? Happy little suckers and currently chomping away, making lovely compost. The soil I put to use and now have a pretty potting table full of gorgeous succulents. So, at this point I’m still in a pretty good mood.

Garden of Evil

Enter the oleanders, or as I will now refer to them — the plants of doom, sent by the devil, to torture me.

Three hours later

Quite some time of heavy shoveling later, I’d removed two of these fuckers and my arms look like I’m a heroin addict. I’ve got red, bumpy scratches all over my upper body and the wee bit of my lower legs that were exposed. Of course because the plants of doom are poisonous, these are puffy, ugly scratches morphing into welts. And really? There are only two things that could have made me grouchier.

1. Finding a snake in my garden.

Same snake, same fear


Snake size, by comparison

{HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. It is a baby and let me tell you, I killed it and then taunted the mother to come forward and show her evil face. Actually, I got the heebie geebies and screamed like I was losing my mind. And the snake may have been a little small, but a SNAKE nonetheless. Snakes are one of my greatest fears in life. Not happy at this point. And don’t dare think this is a worm and I don’t know better; it had a little head and black flickering tongue.}

Fucking oleanders

2. Having two rather strong neighbors walk by and each say, “Wow. That looks like hard work. Good luck with that.” as I am bending over, pulling and prodding with all of my might. Lend a hand? Nah. Make a stupid comment and walk by? Yes. Say it with me: Douche bags! Really not happy at this point.

See you later, plants of doom

Rather exhausted and trying to figure out how to cover my wounds. I should probably wash my mouth out with soap at the same time. Oh, and in 6 months, if all goes well — I’ll have some pumpkins, sunflowers and maybe a tomatillo or two.  In the meantime, really hoping there isn’t a mama snake.


Agriculture Abounds

Sarah, soaking up the sun

When Sarah arrived Friday night, we were both secretly a bit worried about our bloggy-friend adventure. Have you ever gone to the airport to pick someone up and had to look for an avatar? Yes, well, Friday was a first for me. But I knew somehow that having a friend from the blogosphere come for a weekend of knitting, eating, laying the park, going to church and speaking of faith, talking about books, watching documentaries and maybe a sangria margarita or two would be nothing short of fabulous. Sarah was up for it all, including a Ya Ya dinner party where she fell right into the cackle of our gaggle of girls. We’ve chatted over the years after finding each other’s blogs and knew many of our interests were mutual. She’s a knitting triathlete. How bad could this be?

Two bloggers on a tractor

When I told her Saturday morning our plans for the day included driving to Superstition Farms to visit state “Ag” day, she didn’t wince. Perhaps its her Midwestern manners, as she was a trouper. As a food bank advocate, I wanted to attend the event to show support. The farm hosted anyone who wanted to come learn more about sustainable agriculture, have a cheap $1 lunch, see a petting zoo, ride a horse, etc. It cost $2 a person to attend, or 3 cans of food. The food went to a local food bank and in turn, provided great exposure to hunger issues in the Valley. We were scooped up in the parking lot by a tractor-pull and I knew then the fun was just beginning. While this Missourian girl has way more experience than I do with country life, we were both squealing a bit at the fun of being driven around by a tractor. The ride proved to be both fun and informative too. We just got chatting with the farmer who owns the tractor and apparently, they’re thinking of upgrading their machines for more efficient farming. It seems that there’s a kind of eBay for tractors and other farm equipment that needs to be sold off; these farmers were thinking of auctioning off their machines to buy some newer ones. With grays and other online sellers, this is actually possible! Who knew? Farming practices have so much that we don’t really know about. City girls, meet dairy farm.

Arizona Ag Day

After wandering around a bit, eating too much kettle corn, getting some good information on an upcoming Master Gardener’s course I’m going to take, and running into a group of Burundian refugees (no joke), we headed home. We watched the documentary, “Farmer John and the Real Dirt” which is exceptionally strange and entertaining. If you are interested in community supported agriculture, I’d highly recommend it. Sarah did indeed teach me to knit socks. I’d show you a photo, but my progress is so miniscule at this point you’d need a microscope to see what I’d accomplished. Regardless, she taught me the magic loop technique and I’m certain to have a pair done in the next five years or so. Tedious, tiny stitches, but they will be pretty.


We also raided my garden (for the first time!) to gather goodies to take to the aforementioned dinner party. Cilantro for some cilantro jalapeno hummus and greens for a salad. I am fully aware how silly it is that I’m this happy to be growing a few vegetables, but having a productive garden has been a life goal. So Saturday’s “harvest” was a celebrated event.


A dork grows onions

Out in the garden

Greens from the garden

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Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus

It was a very content moment when I washed dirt off of these vegetables to prepare them for friends — organic small-scale gardening at its best.

I look forward to Sarah’s return!


Community Garden: Phase I

Asbury UMC Community Garden

Phase I of the community garden at Asbury UMC is a citrus orchard. Last week I convinced 18 folk to adopt a tree for the grove. Our goal is another 7 sold this week so we have 25 to plant on Arbor Day– March 20th. Our congregation is excited about the project and the local refugee population is stepping up to help do a lot of the planting. I am thrilled to be a part of this work. I can see this otherwise unused slot of land bloom into a lovely garden where we’ll all come together to learn.

Asbury UMC Community Garden

For example, did you know these date shoots can be transplanted? The things I’m learning this week are nothing short of nutty. (Or in this case, date-y.) We are hopefully going to  very gently harvest these and plant them along the front border of the church to provide a live fence. (Go, go gadget Peace Corps farming knowledge! I’ve used you so little. Welcome back!)

I am wrangling volunteers, begging friends with trucks to pick up loads of mulch and gathering shovels so the citrus grove can be planted. Within three years, we should have a bounty of fruit to keep hungry congregants, neighbors and refugees well fed. In the meantime, we’ll progress to Phase II — vegetable gardening plots and eventually Phase III. This is the one with which I’m most intrigued. I’ve long wanted chickens, much to my family and friend’s utter curiosity. I know they are filthy and noisey. I also know how incredible organic eggs are and the financial possibilities we can provide to a couple refugee families willing to take on animal husbandry. Did you know a chick will begin laying eggs after 14-15 weeks of development and the lay an egg every 27 hours for 52 weeks? With 10 chickens, we are going to make a boatload of money charging $4 a dozen for organic eggs at the Phoenix Farmer’s Market and to congregants. Money for refugee families who need work. Citrus, veggies and eggs for my belly. Really, what isn’ t there to celebrate?

Asbury UMC Community Garden

If you live in Arizona and want to get involved, all are welcome. Shoot me an email for the details.  (Shoot! Shoot me an email about shoots! Oh, the puns.)

I’d love to meet you and have you join in the fun!



Hippie Soil Machine

Headed to the composter

When Rebecca gave me this Rachael Ray trash bowl a month ago, I knew it would bring me one step closer to hippie nirvana. You stick the bowl on the counter when cooking, collect your compostable refuse and then drop it off outside to be reconsumed by Mama Nature.

Compost bowl

The only hiccup to this plan was I didn’t have a composter outside and throwing stalks of broccoli on the garden makes the neighbors think you are a wee bit crazy. Plus, they are a pain in the butt to garden around.

Compost Machine!

Enter my fabulous carpenter grandfather who took one look at my composter blueprint and said he’d get right to it. This box smells so good for the time being. I think I’ll always associate the smell of fresh cut wood and sawdust with him. His carpentry skills are just so great.

The Composter!

And so the fun begins. This baby is sitting on my patio and will be filled, somewhat, with carbon and kitchen refuse this Spring. I’m not adding worms because it is already 80 degrees in Phoenix and they’d cook.

To be: Compost

Instead, I’ll throw in the kitchen scraps for the time being. You can’t tell from the photos, but the box sits a bit off the ground. With these holes, the air will circulate and my hippie soil machine will take off!

Three cheers for another step toward sustainability, green living and being a successful gardener. Okay, I’m still working on that last part.


Princess, Perhaps?

Remember when I wrote about that elementary school near my office that puts a “lifeskill of the week” on the marquis? This week’s is resourcefulness, which I love. If there were royalty of resourcefulness, my mother would be queen. I can’t tell you how many times she explained the difference between a “want” and a “need” to us, or said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” In other words, use your creativity to fix your problem.

My most recent use of my mama’s advice was this weekend when I looked at those green curtains I once sewed and realized how poorly they fit the windows. The design — with Velcro tabs on the back so they could be raised — was good, but the sewing wasn’t. Enter one generous Home Depot gift card, six or so hours of drilling, sewing and then cleaning up after myself and voila!

NAU quilt, hanging

A new place to show off one of my mom’s quilts. She made this for me when I left to study at NAU. The pillow cases came later from a sewing swap. Kate in Australia knew just what to make!

New fancy curtain rod and curtain

A little bit of muslin and another easy curtain was whipped up. This is perfect because I can now sew at this desk with perfect natural light.

Garden, before

I also managed to finally put together another wish — a potting table. I’ve seen these in so many magazines, but never had all the components handy to put a useful to work.

Potting table


I spent the better part of the long weekend cleaning, organizing and hauling stuff to Goodwill. My home is now in order and the whole thing cost $11 — three new potted succulents.

Succulents chillin'

Not only are these pretty, but they don’t need a lot of water and are kinda tricky to kill. Thank heavens because if you can believe it, I’m pretty sure our winter has already flown by.