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gardening

Recycled Raised Beds

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Recycled Raised Beds

Several months ago my bonus son (son-in-law, his name is Abe) and my daughter, Genette, made a gate for me out of wood pallets. They still need to come and help with building another gate for the other side of the house.

In the meantime, I have a pile of pallets sitting in my driveway, and it is more than will be needed for the gate, so I am using some for other projects. I wanted some raised beds for my vegetables, and there the pallets sat, so an idea flashed. I could make raised beds out of the pallets in a matter of minutes! The result was good.

To make the pallets sit flush on the ground, I took off the bottom slats and used the wood and nails to close in the sides. I had some black plastic to put on the ground to help with weed control. I put the pallets down on the plastic, filled them with good, rich dirt and planted my cucumbers and swiss chard.

I wanted a protective dome over the plants to keep the birds and bunnies away (hopefully), so I checked my “stash” to see what I could use. My “stash” is discarded items I’ve saved that I use in my garden instead of purchasing new ones. Last fall a friend moved into a different home and there was fencing and chicken wire left there by the previous owner, so she asked me if I wanted it. Of course, I said yes, knowing that I would use it in my garden, though I didn’t know how at the time. I added it to my “stash.” I also had a metal grate (that I kept from an outdoor wood grill) along with some metal display baskets (from a shelving unit in a large store). These things combined became my protective dome.

In a nutshell, I paid nearly nothing for my raised beds, and in a few weeks, I’ll have vegetables on my table! I’ve got one finished now, and two more ready for the dirt. One will have lettuce and the other will have, probably, some herbs. I’ll post some more pictures later as my vegetables grow and I fill up the other two pallets.

From discarded into useful. Tell me your own stories about recycling and reusing.

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Butternut Squash

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Butternut Squash

Squash. I know, the word is weird and makes your mouth turn up on one side, but I like squash. One of my all-time favorites is Butternut Squash, maybe because of the memories and the story that is attached to it. When I was a little girl for a snack my mother would cut a butternut squash in half and put it flesh side up in our gas oven to bake. It would get soft and brown and beautifully caramelized.

Mom would take it out of the oven put some butter and salt on it and smash it up in the shell. Then we would use spoons, not forks, to eat it. It was like hot ice cream, sweet and salty. When I make it in my own kitchen the memory of my mother, the old farm kitchen, and that ancient gas stove come back to me. I close my eyes when I take a bite and for a few moments, I am a little girl again.

What garden food reminds you of a story and takes you back home again? Write it down and tell your kids about it, or better yet, get that food and relive the memory with them. Tell me about it here in the comments, I’d love to hear the story.

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My Sanctuary

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My Sanctuary

Being a storyteller and puppeteer is not just about being on a stage or in a classroom. I am a business owner, and I have to take the time to write, manage paperwork, pay bills, research and do all the behind-the-scenes work that any other self-employed individual must do. The benefit I have is that I can take my office nearly anywhere. 

My garden is my sanctuary. I love to dig in the dirt, plant some flowers and vegetables and share my plants with neighbors. And then I love to sit and enjoy it. The canopy of the maple tree in my front yard provides welcome, natural air conditioning. It truly feels 20 degrees cooler under those leaves and branches. I have a table and chairs under that tree, and during the summer it's a favorite place for me to take some office work. 

Of course, my garden is not just in my back yard, but in my front yard as well. I do my best to keep flowers blooming throughout the season, so the sights change almost daily.  Yesterday morning I needed to get some writing done, so I grabbed my coffee, my pens and some paper and headed to my frontyard table. That's how my office looked yesterday. 

I love being a storyteller and puppeteer, and I love my garden. It makes me happy to be able to enjoy them both at the same time.

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Christmas at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

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Christmas at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

 

My husband, Steven, and I had a date this holiday season. We went to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden to see the Christmas lights. It was chilly, but it was such an enjoyable time I thought I would share with you some of the pictures.

 

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No more Nandina

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No more Nandina

nandina-domestica.jpg

Today I removed the Nandina from my garden because I learned that the berries are toxic to many birds. My yard is a certified wildlife backyard habitat and certainly I do not want to harm the wildlife I am welcoming into my yard.

My friend, Debbie Foster, is an expert in many things concerning birds. She owns Parrot Ps and Qs and has the alphabet after her name in what I call, "birdology." (If you need help with anything concerning birds, contact her!) Debbie told me about an article she had read about how the berries from Nandina, also called Heavenly Bamboo, killed a flock of waxwing birds. I researched it on the internet and today the Nandina were removed from my yard.

I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed having the plants in my landscape; they are quite pretty. In the warmer months, they produce cute little white clusters of flowers. Each flower then produces a berry that turns red in the winter. The leaves do not shed, which is also a plus in the Fall when trees are losing their leaves. However, those beautiful berries kill birds.

If I wanted to make a life analogy (excuse me while I clear my throat), what do we keep in our own lives because it looks pretty but really needs to be pulled out by the roots? I have a fellow storytelling friend and I run my stories by her from time to time. She reads them or listens and says, "You need to cut your darlings"! I know what she means. There might be some very unnecessary things in the story that I love, but which just drag it down. That's what happened in my garden — I cut one of my darlings. 

Later on I’ll look at replacing those empty spots in the yard with native plants. But that’s another blog for another day...

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