Category Archives: Garden Stories

Ready, Set…Grow!

I’m a little late to the game this year, but the seeds are finally started. All 68 filled and fertilized seed pods are sitting in the South facing window of the schoolroom, waiting.

In a Sunday afternoon, my assistant and I managed to get all the tomatoes, peppers, greens, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and assorted herbs planted.


Normally, I would have stagger started the seeds, but since it’s March I thought it best to go full blast.

Are all 68 going to bud? Probably not, but we have plenty of room for them even if they do, and plenty of people we can share them with if we get tired of digging holes.

My assistant and I also planted spinach, onions and shallots in a raised bed.


He even found a spot right next to the driveway where he planted marigolds. He thought it would be a good place for them to grow.


My seed-starting process was a little different this year.

I bought plastic shoe boxes to hold each pot and wooden clothes pins as labels.

I’ve used plant labels, popsicle sticks and masking tape in the past. All three have been utter failures. I suppose that throwing them out in frustration when they move around and pop out of the pots is a user issue, I’m just not sure. But I’m hoping the clothes pins work out better.


It was a long process, but my adorable assistant stuck by me through it all and even helped me carry each shoe box into the school room.


Spring seeds are started
Chickens are prepping the soil
Let the season start!

The Preview

Summer’s coming
Muddy feet
Fresh-picked berries
Ripe and sweet

Hot sun shining
Grass turns green
Kids are playing
Squeals and screams

Kitties climbing
Garden beds
Ripe tomatoes
Leafy heads

Harsh winds blow
Rain soaks the ground
Sun shines bright
Warmth all around

What to plant…

As I combed through the Baker Creek Seed Catalog this morning while sipping my coffee, I realized that I may have a problem.

I started with restraint, keeping my seed budget in mind. But as I made my way through the greens, peppers and tomatoes, my resolve faltered and I went a little crazy.

Luckily, I came down from the mania and had enough sense to cross out seeds I already had saved from last season. Whew!


This year, our big focus is on greens. We, like the rest of the world, made a resolution to eat healthier and (so far) we’ve stuck to it by, sort of, following a ketogenic diet.

We eat salads with just about every meal. And while iceberg lettuce is crisp, it offers little in the way of nutrients.

Greens, purples and reds. Spinach, kale, cabbage and chard. Brussels sprouts and arugula. All super nutrient rich, leafy and delicious in salads.

We’re trying out heirloom variety tomatoes and peppers. We have a dealer for jalapenos so I’m done even trying to grow them.

I’m throwing in a few flowers just for fun. Bells of Ireland, spider flower and euphorbia are unique…at least to me.

We’ll plant a bunch of herbs this year as well. Sadly, they will not go in our herb spiral.


Planting it around a dead tree stump was a bad idea. Even though we’ve drilled holes in the stump and poured Epsom salt water over and over again, the Bradford pear just refuses to die.

Instead, one of the raised beds we got from the neighbors will be dedicated to herbs.

We have 9 raised beds in all. 6 are filled with topsoil already. They will all eventually go in the greenhouse, but this season we’ll be using all 6.


One will be an herb bed. Two will be for leafy greens. Another couple for strawberries.

Our kitchen garden will be filled with tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, carrots, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, okra, zucchini and cabbage.

I’m both excited about and dreading planting the kitchen garden. For the past few years, we’ve let the chickens prep the garden for us. All winter they’ve scratched up, eaten pests and fertilized the soil. But thanks to the fox, that didn’t happen.

Thanks a lot Mr. Fox. Thanks a lot.




Spring is on the Way!

I have a confession…I have lost my motivation. 

Not for homeschooling. Our year so far has been wonderful. I love the freedom we have to alter our day as we see fit. The boys are thriving and we are having fun. 

Not for writing…I’m still researching publishing houses, sending my work out to magazines and adding to my collection of rejection letters.  

No, what I’ve lost my motivation for is planning the garden.

I have no idea where it went. Perhaps the fox stole it when he ruthlessly slaughtered our chickens or the Japanese beetles killed it with their constant assault on the garden.  


In an effort to find that lost drive, I looked back at the goals we set at the start of the year. What progress have we made?

  • Start and plant seeds early. Uh…nope.
  • Prepare for the war with pests. Specifically, you guessed it, Japanese Beetles. Well…it has been really, really cold. I’m hopeful that most of the grubs will have frozen to death resulting in fewer beetles. And…I do plan to hit the yard with another treatment of milky spore in Spring.
  • Really, really, REALLY create a strategy for keeping up with the weeds. ?
  • Get that greenhouse going for Spring crops. Well…it has been really, really cold…
  • Order replacement chickens. Hmmm…

After reading through these goals and realizing I’ve done little nothing to meet them, my enthusiasm is in overdrive and my mind is whirring with ideas, wants and wishes. There is so much to do! With the last frost date only a few months away, there are plans to make, seeds to start and chicks to order. 

The first step? Inventory seeds and drool over this gorgeous seed catalog. Oh, and try not to go overboard this year. Again. 


Motivation found
Time to plan, start and order
Spring is on the way






Bitter Victories

These bitter winds
I do not mind
Nor the chilly nights

The salted roads
Don’t bother me
I like the cold and ice

The ground is cold
The frost is thick
The wind has quite a bite

It’s how I know
When Spring arrives
Most grubs won’t see the light

Let Winter stay
Until late March
‘Til all her work is done

We’ll win a fight
Against our foe
Beetles: 5; Us: 1


Tender Shoots

Slowly and with little steps
They grow each passing day
Their tender limbs reach to the sun
They blossom in new ways

We gently tend those little seeds
And help them plant their roots
We strengthen them with soft blown winds
Those gentle little shoots

When it’s time to take them out
And plant them on their own
We worry what will happen
When they’re out there all alone

As the season stretches out
Their fruit grows on the vine
We water them and with a smile
We know they’ll be just fine

And then there’s the garden…

Now that the holiday whirlwind has passed and the elves have returned to the North Pole, I’m feeling a little exhausted and just a tad uninspired.

But…then there’s the garden and all the planning and excitement of this new season.

There are seeds to buy and start.

There are beds to plan and plant.

There are strategies to determine and execute.


I absolutely love this time of year. Sure, it’s frigid with temps below zero, but I can curl up with my favorite seed catalogs and dream of planting my Spring, Summer and Fall garden.

The seed catalogs are already starting to come in the mailbox bringing with them excitement and dreams of a lush and productive garden.

I’ll circle and plan to buy millions of seeds and come back down to reality when I see the price tag on said seeds.

Goals for this year:

  • Start and plant seeds early.
  • Prepare for the war with pests. Specifically, you guessed it, Japanese Beetles.
  • Really, really, REALLY create a strategy for keeping up with the weeds.
  • Get that greenhouse going for Spring crops.
  • Order replacement chickens.

First, I will determine what to plant and create my seed starting schedule.

Next, I’ll research battle strategies for dealing with pests and keeping up with the weeds using cardboard, weed block and good old-fashioned elbow grease.


Third, we’ll make plans to get our greenhouse up and going as soon as possible in early Spring.


Finally, we’ll research the best, kid-friendly, egg-laying replacements for our flock and find fox, raccoon and opossum repelling tricks to beef up coop security.


The next two months will definitely not be tedious. We have a garden to plan.

Though winter is cold
Though winds blow and chill the land
We joyfully plan




Mischief Makers: Wrapping Paper War

Nim, Lil and Glitter zipped around the kitchen throwing wrapping paper balls at each other.

“That’s for making me dress up!” Glitter lobbed tangled ribbon at Nim as he zoomed by, wrapping paper streaming behind him.

“Dodge this one!” Nim threw a tissue paper missile at Glitter.


Glitter paused mid-air and, for a moment, a small niggling of dismay started to creep over her. Then, just as quickly as it had come, it was gone and she hurled a bag full of Christmas bows at her two friends.

As the battle died down, the trio sat on the table, drinking sugar water and gazing at their handiwork.


The kitchen was covered in paper balls. Ripped paper hung from the cabinets and streamed across the floor. Ribbon was scattered down the hallway.

“What next?” asked Nim. “Should we get the cotton balls out for round 2?”

“I have a better idea,” Lil floated down to the roll of paper on the floor and began wrapping cabinet doors.


They covered the cabinets with wrapping paper, getting even more on the floor and counters and wrapping tape around themselves.

When they were finished, the sprites hung above the stove to review their handiwork while Glitter pretended to kick wrapping paper around.

You know she’s really trying to clean up,” Nim whispered.

“You can take the reindeer out of the stickler, but you can’t take the stickler out of the reindeer.”

Both Mischief Makers were well satisfied with the job they had done.

Deck the halls and wrap the cabinets
Fa-la-la-la-la La-la-la-la
Hang up tinsel with some magnets
Fa-la-la-la-la La-la-la-la

Nim then flew above the sink and got settled in for the wait.


Lil spun around singing the rest of the carol before landing gracefully on the opposite side of the sink.

Watch as Glitter tries to clean up
Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la
She’ll get tackled by a green pup
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!

I’m so glad we got to work together this year!” whispered Nim.

And I’m so glad you helped me relax a bit,” Glitter whispered back.

Lil smiled and winked and they all anxiously waited for morning to come.



Mischief Makers: Vroom Vroom

“You know,” said Lil the next night. “I’m happy that Glitter is better, but I do miss those Christmas carols.”

Nim watched as Glitter swept up tinsel that had fallen from the tree using Barrel’s tail. Far from being upset, Barrel barked in time to Jingle Bells and enjoyed the ride.

“I almost hate to put tonight’s plan into action,” said Lil. “Do you think it’s too soon?”

“I don’t think so,” said Nim. “Besides, we have to step it up a notch if we want to keep the Top Shelf Elf trophy title.”

Lil knew Nim was right, but she couldn’t help but be a little nervous about Glitter’s reaction to their plan.

“Let’s get started while she’s distracted with tormenting Barrel,” said Lil with a smile. Barrel was enjoying every minute of his “torment”.

Nim and Lil snuck off to the boys room and started collecting the Hotwheels, Matchbox cars and any other toy with wheels they could find. Slowly and quietly they laid each vehicle in a line from the boys room and through the living room.


The coast is clear,” whispered Nim.

Floating a little above the floor, the two elves silently put the cars and trucks all the way up to and around the Christmas tree.

“And just what do you two think you are doing?” Glitter boomed with a hands-on-her-hips look on her face.

“Uh,” started Lil.

“Well…,” said Nim.


“You forgot to leave a space for Barrel and I in this parade,” said Glitter as she trotted to the middle of the line of cars.

Nim’s eyes grew as big as peppermint candies.

Lil’s mouth hung open as wide as a snowball.

Barrel raced to Glitter who shooed him to the back of the line.


“Sit,” she said sternly.

“You mean, you aren’t mad?” Nim asked Glitter.

“And you’re not going to–to,” started Lil.

“Breakdown into a quivering ball of nerves?” asked Glitter.

Nim and Lil nodded in unison.

“No,” said Glitter. “I think my trip into madness is well behind me. I’ve learned that a little mischief is quite ok…even fun.”

“Yay!” Nim and Lil said, jumping and spinning around.

“Besides,” said Glitter. “We have to keep that Top Shelf Elf trophy for our team.”

As Nim and Lil got into the lead car, they couldn’t help but smile.

“If this is the new, improved Glitter,” said Nim. “Then all the craziness was worth it.”

Mischief Makers: Marshmallow Madness

Glitter eyed the bags of marshmallows warily.

“Tell me again what the plan is for tonight?” she asked.

“We are going to build a fort out of these,” said Nim.

“Or should we build a Christmas village?” asked Lil.

“Or we could build Santa’s workshop,” said Nim.

“We are definitely going to need more marshmallows,” said Lil as she headed for the window.


“Stop!” said Glitter. “I don’t think this is such a good idea.”

Both elves turned to Glitter with matching mischievous frowns.

“We promise we won’t make too big of a mess,” said Lil.

“Just a few marshmallow houses and a small workshop for Santa,” said Nim.

“It’s only marshmallows, Glitter,” said Lil with a wink. “It’s not like we are throwing flour and glitter all over the floor.”

Glitter sighed and nodded her head. She had not completely forgiven herself for all the havoc she’d created over the past week. How could she begrudge Nim and Lil a little fun?

“Woo hoo!” cried Nim. “Let’s get started.

At first, Nim and Lil stayed true to their promise. They started building their village while Glitter sorted the marshmallows by color and size.


But then, things started to get sticky.

Nim accidentally lobbed a marshmallow at Lil’s head.

Lil, of course, had to retaliate.

Glitter tried to stop them, but she only got pelted with multi-colored marshmallows. She ended up ducking behind a snow globe to avoid more hits.

By the time the battle ended, marshmallows of every size and color littered the table.


“Oops,” said Nim.

“Sorry Glitter,” said Lil as Glitter slowly stepped out from behind the snow globes.

Nim and Lil exchanged worried glances. Would this put Glitter right back over the edge?

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree
You’re covered with marshmallows
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree
They’re pink and green and yellow
A “snowball” fight, it happened here
With messy, sticky Christmas cheer
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree
You’re covered with marshmallows

“Oh no,” said Lil.

“We’ve ruined all her progress,” said Nim.


“You two had better help me clean this up,” said Glitter. “We can’t have you getting into trouble with Santa too.”

Then she smiled and used her nose to move all the stray marshmallows into a pile.

Nim and Lil looked at each other and sighed with relief.

The old Glitter would have reprimanded them.

The old Glitter would have jotted off an Elf Behavior Report (EBR) to Santa.

The old Glitter would have been angry that they’d made such a mess.

This was a new Glitter. She’d gone from one extreme and back again, but rather than returning to her old, prim and proper self, she’d…well, she’d loosened up a bit.


“I sure hope this new and improved Glitter will stick around,” said Nim, helping clean up the mess.

“Oh, I think she will,” said Lil with a smile.