Potting & Repotting ~ by Sam

Well, it’s been all of 4 days since I repotted the last batch of plants, so, naturally, I have assumed it was a raging success and decided to repot every plant I see.

But, seriously, folks…

Sometime before Halloween, I purchased three adorable little succulents in ceramic planters. They  were far too cute to resist: two bright orange pumpkins, and a purple sugar skull.  For quite a while, the plants seemed to be thriving, so I just went merrily along, giving them little sips of water.  Recently, however, I noticed the one in the sugar skull planter looking a bit wilty. I took it out of the planter, because I thought it must not be getting any drainage at all in there (there was an actual flowerpot inside the planter).  I took it out and set in on a little dish so it could dry out a bit and drain better.  Then, it started looking downright soggy.  I thought I’d better try re-potting it and the other two that had come in similar planters, as well as a fern I had recently purchased, which came wrapped in fussy paper, but not in a very good pot.

I went to the nursery and purchased pots the next day, but, sadly, I don’t think the one little succulent from the sugar skull planter is going to survive.  I set him outside in his pot, thinking the very dry air might revive him.  It rained.

I bought another small succulent to fill the pot I had planned to use for that one, and, if he makes it, I promise to buy him a very good pot of his very own.  And make a most sincere apology for giving away his in the first place.


Again.  In case it wasn’t boring enough last time I wrote about it, I repotted some plants.  I’m sorry.  I apologize to the plants.  They are not boring at all.  They are lovely, and I love them all.

Here they are, waiting to be repotted.  You can clearly see the need.

Also, please note, these two magnificent chairs I scored for 100% free when a guy down the street was giving them away.  They are just waiting to become a future project, which might be a little more exciting than repotting plants, if the repotting of plants does not thrill you.

I had already cleaned out the sugar skull planter and left it inside, so I’m afraid you don’t get a picture of that one.  But look at that little plant on the left?  See the little metal bucket it’s in?  I have a couple of those buckets, now.  I have them because the plants that were in them died.  It is my considered opinion that they most likely dies because plants just don’t do well in things like metal buckets and ceramic planters that don’t allow for drainage.  So, if you get one of these cute things, that’s all well and good.  Enjoy it like that for a brief time, but, if you want to keep the plant, you should probably transfer it to something more appropriate.  At least, I hope that will work.  Based on the reading I have done in preparation for all of this, it should.

I settled on a simple white pot for the fern, whom I named Charlotte, at Justice’s suggestion, since we have a similar fern named Fern, and she thought we should stick with a theme.  For the three succulents, I chose clay pots.  I thought the clay pots would be better at not holding in too much moisture for plants that like a drier environment.  I also bought a plant mister, because I have heard that ferns like to have their leaves misted.  It turns out this is not a great mister.  It’s more of a douser.  I need to find a good mister I can use indoors that actually mists plants instead of just spraying torrential rains inside my home.  The roof already serves that purpose when it rains.
I transferred the plants to their new pots, and dressed the succulents with some decorative pebbles, making sure to place some in the bottom of each pot to ensure good drainage.

I felt to dress Charlotte with anything more would really be quite ridiculous.  She’s come fully festooned already.
I think they all look much happier now.

I promise I will write about something other than plants soon.  I mean, maybe.  Probably.  I do really like my plants.



Weekend Projects ~ by Sam

Monday January 15, 2018:
I have high hopes that yesterday will go down in history as the day that I saved several cacti and a fern.  Maybe if we all believe hard enough…should you all clap your hands or something? Can it be like that moment in Peter Pan when we all saved Tinkerbell by believing in faeries?  Say it with me: “I do believe in planties, I do believe in planties…”

Honestly, I feel fairly awful about the fern.  Her name is Marian, for obvious reasons.  Did I mention that she’s a maidenhair fern?  It’s obvious now, right?  Well, it was obvious to me.  Anyway, when we met, at the grocery store, Marian was rather a lush fern. I brought her home, put her on the table, and faithfully followed the instructions that accompanied her.  I kept her soil moist, and kept her away from the heating and cooling vents.  I misted her leaves, and she just didn’t care.  She dried up, anyway.  So I looked up care tips, and, as suggested, I gave her a good soaking, and waited.  She didn’t produce news leaves, as promised.  I kept trying.  So, this weekend, I decided to give her a new pot.  I even gave her fresh soil, and some lovely pebbles.  Then, I read, too late, that maidenhair ferns don’t like repotting!  I am very distressed about this.  I like Marian so much.  She has only two straggly little stems left.  I will keep caring for her and hoping for the best, but I am going to be very sad if she doesn’t make it.  Perhaps, I should rethink naming my plants, if I am going to continue to massacre them.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  For now, she is resting, apparently comfortably in her new pot.  I think she looks lovely in orange.  Don’t you agree?


Marian wasn’t the only plant in the house who needed assistance.

Hallie had this really adorable little glass terrarium.  You’ve probably seen them everywhere lately.  This one was teardrop shaped, and it had what I think is a ruby  ball cactus (or is it a pink ball cactus?  is that a thing?  it certainly looks pink to me), one other small succulent, and some moss.  It was super tiny and cute, until George the cat knocked it off the table and broke it.  We know he didn’t mean to break it.  He’s just a large guy, and it was a small, delicate thing, on a small table.  It was an accident.  It broke, nonetheless, so we had to figure out what to do about that.  The ball cactus looks like it might be damaged.  I am honestly, not sure it will make it, so not sure, in fact, that I bought a new one, just in case, but we decided to try our hardest to save it.  We also had a dish garden that had been planted long ago, and, sadly, all of the plants but one had finally given up on us.  We decided to get a tiny pot for that last one, and the new cactus I’d purchased.  I was lucky enough to find these absolutely adorable tiny teacup planters at the nursery, and I happened to have one small pot already, so I bought a soil mix that is supposed to be good for cacti, put a few pebbles in the bottom of each, added the plants, and topped with pebbles and/or moss, as the case may be.  I think they turned out super cute, although I didn’t put enough soil in the largest pot, so you can’t even see the plants over the top edge ~ oops!IMG_5169

Oh!  There they are!


While I was doing all of this, shane was busy putting together the new tv stand.  He got some help deciphering the instructions:


But Leia wasn’t a lot of help when it came to actually assembling the thing.  He asked George to help, but all he would do was pose for closeups.

So, finally, I pitched in an helped with one little shelf.  It was awesome.  I fastened roughly 17 screws.  Are you proud of me?  I put in, like 36 of those wooden peg things, and I even covered the heads of the screws with little plastic discs because, let me tell you, we buy the only the classiest prefab furniture.

No, seriously.  I like this piece.  I think it is pretty stylish, for the price.  It cost just over $200, and shipping was free, which always makes difference when you have to order something heavy to be delivered.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

….and then, I fell asleep while writing this.  Not for, like, days, but then, you know, the days all kind of happened.

Days in which I had a very sick kid staying home from school, and other kids not staying home, and a husband whose car needed to get to and from the shop, and groceries that needed to somehow be purchased and get home from the store ~ I mean, I know they have delivery services for that; but I drove to the store and got them, and brought them home, because that’s what I felt we could do right now.  I did have the farm box delivered from Imperfect Produce, because I think it’s a really great thing they’re doing, and, even if I can’t always afford to get a lot from them, I like to give them the business, if I can.

Oh ~ I don’t mean I like to “give them the business!”  I mean, I like to patronize them.  As in take my business to them.  I am not patronizing to them.  I prefer to purchase items of produce from them when I am able, because I find them to be a reputable company that is striving to do good in the world.

Why is the English Language so difficult to navigate?

But, I digress.
I’m sorry.
But not really.
I mean.  It’s not that big a deal…is it?

So, anyway, we got the new tv stand put together ~ or rather, Shane got the new tv stand put together ~ and I think it’s just brilliant.  I love the look of it.  We do need some supplemental shelves, as you will see in a moment, but it’s got a very interesting shape, and it came together quite nicely.  The old one was very blocky and dark. You’ll have to trust me, because I completely forgot to take “Before” pictures.  Hopefully, at some point, Shane will chime in with some insights on his assembly experience.  He certainly had a few words to say about it during the process.  Hopefully, he won’t repeat all of them in print.

But seriously folks ~

Here is the new tv stand, in all her glory, as we launch her with the customary Ross family viewing of Star Wars!

Shane was so exhausted by the time he finished putting the thing together ~ and it was so late ~ that he didn’t make it through the whole movie.  I mean, he made it.  He just fell asleep.  Justice had already gone to bed.

This wasn’t exactly the customary Ross family Star Wars viewing at all.  I think we need a do-over.

However, I did catch this one really important photo of Princess Leia (kitten) and R2-D2 (pez dispenser) with Princess Leia and R2-D2.  It’s blurry, but I thought the world should know.

So, that’s what we were up to over the last weekend.  Sorry the pictures are a bit low light.  We really need to work out the lighting situation in that room.

In closing, in the interest of giving equal(ish) time to equal cats, I give you Lucille Louise, a.k.a., Lucy:

Isn’t she just the Queen of Everything?

To Start Anew ~ by Sam

2017 finds us all poised at the breaking dawn of a fresh, new year.  A year full of hope, and promise and possibilities.  The problems, the struggles, the tears, the regrets, the trials, the toils of 2016 and before lay behind us, and what lies ahead is infinite and unknown.  People encourage us to move only forward, to cast off the negative, never looking back; but, like Lot’s wife, we find ourselves compelled to cast that glance aft, and then…

Then what?

Isn’t it our history that informs us?  Isn’t it our past that makes us what we are today?

And so, I offer this advice for the New Year: Don’t attempt to make a brand new start, as people suggest.  That is far too tall an order for anyone, and destined for failure.  Sure, go ahead, move forward.  But don’t just put one foot in front of the other and trudge blindly on.  Move forward informed by the past, strengthened by your experience, hardened in your resolve ~ battle-scarred and imperfectly-perfect, as are we all ~ ready to conquer whatever life happens to throw your way.

In that spirit, I give you my Resolutions for the New Year, in no particular order:

In 2017, I resolve to:

Be Kind.
Visit Places.
Make Things.
Plant Things.
Play Music.
Take Care of Myself.

I might clean some stuff, too.

I think I can handle that.

Wishing you and yours Peace, Love, Health & Happiness in the New Year and beyond.  With all of those things, how can we possibly go wrong?

So Much to Say ~ by Sam

After seeing how well the photo-heavy post worked last week, I decided to do another this week.  Perhaps, I will just keep posting that way, just to keep posting something.  Shane has promised to post about the computer he is building ~ oh, the trials and tribulations of the Great Computer Build of 2016! ~ when he has time, but he is, as usual, working several jobs at once, so it might be some time before he gets to that.  Well, he is not working several jobs at the moment.  At this particular moment, he is sleeping, as he should, after a much-needed night out for just the two of us at Cheesecake Factory (and, yes, there are things I can eat there ~ there is a Vegan Cobb Salad, in fact, that is quite good, and almost as large as I, to boot, so I will be eating that for days) and a very heavy work week.  Kaia is at a friend’s Bat Mitzvah, and the other kids are still asleep, because it is Saturday morning, so they can sleep in.  Me?  I was up to get the kid to the early Bat Mitzvah, and now I am drinking coffee, writing, and neglecting chores.  Three of my favourite pastimes!

I decided to do another photo-post this week, because I enjoyed looking back on my week.  Sometimes, I feel like the days and weeks and months all bleed together, and I find myself gasping for air and thinking, “Wait!  Stop!  What??  It’s April?!!  When did that happen??  Where were January, February, March???  Didn’t we celebrate Christmas???!!!!  Slow down already!!!”  It is my hope that, by taking time to make a regualr “Week in Review” post, I will remember to pause and appreciate all of the moments, big and small, that make up our lives.  As Social Distortion told me: “Life goes by so fast!  You only want to do what you think is right.  Close your eyes and it’s past.”  Yeah, that certainly is the “Story of My Life,” too.  So, I am pausing to think, and I am letting you in, if you want to come along for the ride.  Here it is, then, my week in review:

We went to see The Tempest at the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival (find more info here: Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival

I had a lot of busy days, but am trying really hard to remember to make healthy choices.  I don’t like much fruit, but I know it’s good for me.  The medication I am on impairs my appetite somewhat, and can, in combination with another medication I must take, cause dehydration, so I have to be very careful to make sure I:
a) REMEMBER TO EAT (trust me, this is not as easy as it sounds ~ and yes, I realize how ridiculous that is), and
Because I practically live in my car, I have to eat there, sometimes, too; but I am trying to make healthy choices when I do.  Pears I can stand.  They are an acceptable fruit.  Coconut water is very hydrating.  Violets are always a winner.


Right.  That thing about being healthy.  I just said that, and now, I am gonna post poptarts.  It’s true, I made poptarts.  I made them because it’s all good and well to be healthy, but you have to also eat delicious things and have fun, too, and homemade poptarts are really the best poptarts.  You can make your own crust, or just use store bought piecrust (I make my own, because I prefer it, and it’s really pretty simple, using an oil pastry recipe my mom gave me) and you can fill them with jam or, as I did, brown sugar & cinnamon mixed w/ a little almond meal, butter and pinch of salt.  Okay, so they are still a little bit healthy and kind of nerdy, as compared to regular poptarts.  Being a little bit healthy and kind of nerdy, myself, I can live with that.


I added a few little touches to the Alice Garden, including teacup & saucer birdfeeders I made using pieces purchased from a thrift store; and while I wouldn’t call it “finished,” by any stretch of the imagination (and I don’t think I ever will), I do think it is looking quite “Alice-y,” indeed.

Shane brought me a tiny bouquet of flowers; and I picked up two magazines about two pretty amazing people, but I haven’t had time to start reading either of them yet.

I continue to walk and use the free equipment at the local park 2-3 times/week.  I keep thinking about signing up for a gym membership or the YMCA, and I might just do it when it gets too cold for me to be outdoors, but, for now, this is my gym:


Saw yet another positively glorious North Hollywood sunset.  I got to enjoy it with my kids, thanks to a phone call from Shane, to give us a heads-up from our homework and chores.  I love that we do this for each other.  Any one of the five of us will call or text to say, “You have to go outside and see (the Moon/sunset/rainbow,etc.).”  It’s just one of the things that makes us who we are.  I hope we always do that.  As usual, the pictures just don’t do it justice.  The sun was glowing deep red.  I did the best I could to capture it with my little phone camera, but you’ll just have to trust me, it was roughly 8,000x more glorious.

We celebrated Gene Kelly’s birthday by watching a bunch of his best dance numbers (which pretty much means all of them ~ they were all his best).

I baked a darned good gluten-free apple pie, if I do say so myself (I do, by the way)!  I didn’t intend for it to be gluten-free, but discovered, after I had already started peeling apples, that I didn’t have enough regular flour to make pie crust.  I did, however, happen to have some gluten-free flour left over from a baking project Kaia had done for her Girl Scout troop, so I decided to just go ahead and make a gluten-free pie crust.  Turned out great, so, should the need arise, I now know I can do this.  Also, I got to have pie for breakfast one day.  Oh, we totally had pie for dinner.  It has fruit, see, and fruit is good for us.

Justice brought home a huge bouquet of sunflowers!  Thank you!


Kaia did her homework outside one day; and it was accidentally left outside.  The next morning, at 5:00 a.m., the sprinklers went off.  Later that morning, as she was getting ready to leave for school, she couldn’t find her homework. I’ll bet you can guess where it was.  Yeah.  We used a hairdryer set on low to dry it.  Only one finished math equation was completely washed away.  Her teachers were very understanding about its rumpled condition.


I FINALLY started painting the detail above the shower in the kids’ bathroom.  I know.  It still looks pretty shoddy here.  Give me some time.  And look with your hearts. The Fox taught me that is only with the heart that one can see rightly.  What is essential is invisible to the eye!  (I’ll post more pics when it’s done.)


Last, but not least, I played my banjo.  I am getting used to the new banjo.  She looks, feels and plays different than the old banjo.  I will still play both, but, for now, I am just playing the new one, because…well, the old one is a little easier to play, I guess; so I feel like I need to work with the new one until I get used to her.  The new banjo is so much heavier!  I feel like I am lifting a small child (or a medium-sized child…who is carrying a small dog).  I love her.  I mean, she’s beautiful, so it was kind of love at first sight, if you believe in that sort of thing.  Have you met her?  Her name is Babe.  Ain’t she a beaut?



If it IS broke… ~ by Sam

Chances are, at some point in your life, you have heard someone say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  That makes perfect sense, right?  Well, if that makes sense, then it naturally follows that, if it is broke, you probably should fix it.  

Shane and I are staunch proponents of this plan.  We don’t tend to believe that things are disposable or need to be replaced, until we have gone to great lengths to prove that they cannot be saved.  Well…or if fixing them will cost substantially more than replacing them.  Sometimes, in that case, you just gotta do what ya gotta do.  But, hey, a lot of broken things can be repaired, and we are determined to repair them, when we can.

Like this afternoon, when I was mowing the front lawn, and I ran over a spool of garden tape that had been left in the lawn.  (Garden tape is this stuff:  http://www.planetnatural.com/product/garden-tape-150-feet/ )  It was one of those moments when you see the inevitable disaster unfolding, and all you can do is watch.  I heard the noise, I saw the spool fly through the air and watched as every last bit of tape unwound form the spool and wound itself around the blades of the lawnmower.  I mean, I turned off the damned thing as soon as I heard the noise, but it was just too late.  It happened so quickly that is was just over by the time I realized it had started.  So, I turned over the lawnmower (after unplugging it, of course ~ oh, unplugging, because we have an electric lawnmower) and assessed the situation.  Well, most of the stuff was wound around the blades, so I untangled and unwound as much as I could, but then there was still some stuck up inside the lawnmower, so I cut away all of the stuff I had managed to unwind, leaving smaller tails to work with.  No dice.  It just was not going to budge.  At this point, it looked like this:Image

Then, I got the ratchet set and got to work.

It was pretty simple, really.  I removed one nut (it was on super-tight, so thank goodness for ratchets), and then I carefully removed parts, being sure to take pictures as I went, and to lay them in order on the ground, so I would know how to put them back on.  


It’s hard to see here, but the tape had gotten pulled and wrapped very tightly in one area.  I tried to get a closer pic, but I am not sure you can tell in this one, either:


You can kind of see it, if you look closely.  It’s the part that looks a little skinnier and lighter green.

Anyway, I very carefully unwound the tape, then I carefully reassembled the lawnmower.  In this next pic, you can see all the tape that was still stuck in the lawnmower when I took it apart.  I had already unwound about 10 times this much fro the blades.  


Ugh.  What a waste!  But, at least I got it fixed, and was able to finish mowing the lawn.  

So, I mowed the front lawn and cleared some huge weeds from the side of the house.  Then, I set the jasmine I had bought to go under Hallie and Kaia’s windows on that side of the house, unwound the soaker hose that I thought would be a good watering solution, since that side of the house has no irrigation, hooked up the new garden hose I picked up for the front yard, watered the plants that needed watering, did  some weeding, and, eventually, mowed about half of the backyard, too.

Shane came out and planted the jasmine for me and set of one piece of lattice (we will need more ~ I should check freecycle), and buried the soaker hose in that area.  In the rose bed, I just kind of wound the soaker hose around the base of each plant. Shane said he may bury it, but, according to the package, it can be used above ground or buried.  

A soaker hose, in case you don’t know, is a hose that is porous all over (kind of like a sponge), so the water sort of sweats out all along the hose, instead of just coming out the end.  This is super convenient in flower beds.  You can install a soaker hose, and then, when it is time to water, instead of having to stand there and move from plant to plant, you just let the water seep in to the ground for a while, then come back later and turn it off.  Here’s what it looks like in action: 


And, last but not least, here’s a pic of our tiny little jasmine.  


These ones are Star Jasmine, rather than the Pink Jasmine we have on the other side of the house.  I decided it would be nice to have two different varieties.


Our Little Oasis ~ by Sam

I wrote this whole long entry about our garden ~ explaining how we mostly do-it-ourselves, but call in the professionals for big stuff, like trimming the huge mulberry tree, addressing my hopes to have an edible garden, and how they have fallen by the wayside as I cannot seem to stop buying flowers, chronicling the evolution our garden, justifying my choices, giving advice and providing resources… Trust me, this was a brilliant post.  And then, Chrome quit, and it ate my entry on its way out.

I give you a brief synopsis:

a) all that stuff I said up there.

b) I like flowers.  They make me happy, they smell good, tending them is therapeutic, and I save money when I don’t have to buy cut flowers for myself and to give as gifts.

c) Talk to people at your local nurseries, talk to your neighbours who garden, do research online regarding what grows and how in your area.  Know your zone, your conditions, learn about light exposure, and pay attention to the specific needs of individual plants.  My in-laws gave me two great books (Sunset Western Garden Book, and Pat Welsh’s Southern California Gardening) that have been invaluable resources for me.  You can find similar books that are specific to your area.

d) Get stuff free.  Post wanted ads to freecycle, craigslist, community bulletin boards for things you need before resorting to buying it (lattice, seeds, plants, rocks, gravel, pots…)  Check alleyways and curbs for pots, trellis, garden furniture, etc.  Ask your friends (in person, or on facebook or other social networking sites.  Trade for stuff (I’ll give you a clipping of my plant in exchange for a clipping of yours).   Ask your favourite coffee shop to save used grounds for your garden.  Keep an eye out for offers for offers of free shade trees from your city or your local utility company.  Check for local classes and workshops offered by your city, county, and local nurseries.  Many are free to attend, and some raffle off supplies and/or give  out coupons for special discounts, just for attending.

e) We have a lot of plants.  I went kind of crazy and bought a bunch of stuff, now that I can use my hand again in an almost normal fashion.

f) Here are a bunch of pictures that tell the rest of the story:

Sometimes, you buy two jasmine plants on sale at your local Costco before you realize that you aren’t sure they will fit in your car.  It might take a little longer to get them in there than you suspected.  You should probably go back and buy a pizza for dinner.Image

Primroses are awesome.  15 for $13.99 at Costco, and the pots are from the 99-cents store, but they look like a million bucks up there on the wall.Image

Alyssum smells amazing.  Like warm honey.  I dare you to walk by it and not buy some.  Image

My husband is awesome.  He helped me create this flowerbed in the backyard, between the raspberry and blueberry plants.Image

Oh, yeah ~ we now have raspberry and blueberry plants.  They were on sale at the Home Depot for $7.98/each.  You know how I feel about sales.  Oh, and Big Lots has great deals on pots and other garden needs, if you do find yourself needing to buy.ImageImage

E.B. Stone’s Sure Start is awesome.  I always use it was transplanting, whether in to containers, or directly in to the ground.  Good stuff.  In fact, i recommend E.B. Stone’s stuff, in general.  Love their Tomato & Vegetable Food. (African daisies, alyssum and primroses are also pretty awesome.) Image

I have a floppy garden hat, and I work in my garden.  Oh, and we put in snapdragons, because Hallie has always wanted them.Image

Yesterday, thanks to freecycle, I picked up two free sheets of garden lattice.  I am hoping to score enough to go across the back wall, bring up the height, giving us a little more privacy (our wall is shorter than me, and that’s short!), and keeping our kids frisbees, balls and hula hoops out of the neighbours’ very lovely yard.  I have seen sheets of lattice this size retail for $20-25 apiece, so the more I can get free, the better!Image

This is how our backyard is shaping up:Image

I got St. Francis and his angel friend for 70% off at Rite Aid, btw.

Okay ~ well, I hope you enjoyed this post.  We plan to keep learning, keep trying, keep doing it ourselves, and will continue our quest for free and low-cost improvements to our little oasis.  We plan to spend a lot of time out there.

The Farm Report ~ by Sam

Okay, so we don’t have a farm.   We do have a bountiful, beautiful, garden in which, thanks to our fabulous Southern California weather, we have been able to grow an abundance of vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers.  Our garden has produced enough in the past few months to not only feed us and allow us to put up jars of tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, vegetable soup and tomato soup, but also to trade with others in the area for items we do not grow.  If I recall correctly, we have traded guava, zucchini, peppers, lettuce and herbs for oranges, apples, tangerines, lemons and peaches.  That’s not a bad haul.

Nevertheless, as Ecclesiates tells us, there is “a time for planting, a time for uprooting what has been planted.”  For us, the time for uprooting was this weekend.  Shane did all of that hard work for me, while I ran the kids to band practice and did a little grocery shopping (and had my car hit in the parking lot…but that’s a whole other story).

Our zucchini and tomatoes were wonderfully prolific, while they were.  At a certain point, our zucchini almost died, then appeared to recover, started to produce lovely little zucchini…which promptly shriveled and died.  The plant looked healthy and green, but it was no longer producing viable fruit, and was robbing the remaining plants of water and nutrients.  The tomatoes ~ oh!  the tomatoes!  They were glorious!  In salads, sauces, stews, soups, caprese, on sandwiches, fried while still green, canned for later…they really were wonderful tomatoes.  Unfortunately, the leaf-legged bugs agreed.  We tried everything to get rid of the nasty little things.  We don’t like to use chemicals on our food (or in our environment, for that matter), so we tried safe, natural alternatives first (soapy water, soapy water with hot pepper, picking them off by hand).  When our home remedies did not work, we tried a couple of sprays approved for use in organic gardening.  With every try, the bugs would be chased away for a day, and then they’d be back, with reinforcements.  We cut back all of the dead branches, chased off the bugs, washed down tomatoes and leaves, sprayed with our organic-gardening approved sprays, picked as many tomatoes as we possibly could…all to no avail.  I want to thank Justice, who, knowing how phobic I am when it comes to bugs, did a lot of the picking during this time.  She is a real trooper, and saved a lot of tomatoes.  There were still so many tomatoes on the vine that we just couldn’t give up, so, in a last-ditch effort to save them, we took the plunge and sprayed a regular old garden pest spray.  I don’t think doing so saved a single tomato.  These tenacious little bugs just would not go away, and there were just too many for us to pick off and dispatch of by hand.  Last week, we finally looked at the garden and admitted to ourselves that we had gotten as many tomatoes out of our plants as would this season.

While I appreciated Shane doing all the work ~ and I knew it needed to be done ~ I have to admit, I was a little sad to come home and see this:


Then, I got to thinking.  We got a lot out of our garden this year.  We ate tons of healthy, homegrown food, and we spent lots of time working outdoors with the plants.  We got exercise, sunshine and nourishment ~ for our bodies and our souls.  Our garden has been a great source of food (saving us money), has helped us connect with others in our community, and a wonderful stress management tool for me.

I decided to catalogue what we do have, instead of dwelling on what we don’t.  It needs a good weeding, to be sure, but there are still plants in our garden.  Only the tomatoes and zucchini are gone.  We still have:

ImageGreen Peppers


ImageFennel (yes, yes, I need to weed!)

ImageA little bit of basil that was hiding under one of the tomatoes.

Imageand a few rogue carrots that we really didn’t expect to grow, considering how off-season we planted them.

We also have marigolds and petunias, but I really need to rescue them from the surrounding weeds, a.k.a. “grass,” before I can photograph them.  Poor things.  Where we live, we find that subscribing to the “weeds as grass” method of lawn maintenance saves us tons of water, but leads to the “grass as weeds” problem in our vegetable garden, as is evidenced above.

Our herbs continue to thrive:



ImageCinder block full o’ thyme

There are tiny kumquats on our little baby kumquat tree:


and tons of hard little green guava just waiting to be beautiful, juicy guava:


There are even a couple of lovely pomegranates hanging over the back wall from our neighbours’ yard:


So, all in all, I would say we are doing just fine.  I am starting to look in to what (and when) I can start planting for next growing season.  Looks like we have a lot of wonderful options.

In the end, maybe we didn’t lose plants so much as we gained space to put in new plants.  After all, ” There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven,” right?

Perhaps, it is now my time to sit on the porch, watching the birds.  It will be time to plant again soon enough.