Monday, July 30, 2012


I have really been noticing the Sun coming up later each morning and dusk arriving sooner each evening. Our ancestors marked the day halfway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox as Teltane (also known as Lammas or Lughnassad). They celebrated a ritual marriage between Lugh, the Sun, and Eire, the Earth with hopes the mating would balance the male and female energies to strengthen and harmonize the Sun and Earth until harvest. This Wednesday, August 1st, marks Teltane and in honor of the Sun and the Earth, I thought I'd share some thoughts and some photos of my garden.
Herb and flower gardens at the end of June.

Despite a lengthy drought, which probably isn't over even though we have gotten a little rain of late, my garden has flourished. Fortunately I have been able to water the vegetable garden from our pond, but there for a while I was concerned for my dear garden and all the plants and wildlife living near us as the temperatures were in the 100's and everything looked scorched.

I am an organic gardener, and I have been building our soil with compost and green manure for many years. This year I have been planting my seeds and doing my transplanting diligently according to a biodynamic calendar. I used a calendar last summer, but I wasn't consistent. This year, as an experiment, I decided to follow the biodynamic recommendations as much as practicality allowed. I'll admit some scepticism but I'll have to say that my garden appears to be doing exceptionally well.

Veggie part of the garden at the end of June.

Of course my experiment hasn't been scientific and there are way too many variables to draw any conclusions, but it is enough evidence for me to continue using the calendar next year.

When I was taking the Master Gardener class a few years ago, other students teased me when I said I didn't see many insect pests in my garden. They couldn't believe I didn't have to spray with chemicals for bean beetles and potato beetles and the like. I decided to pay close attention this year to what pests I saw, especially after a mild winter when pests might be in larger number.

One cucumber plant which has produced
dozens of large burpless cukes.

I have seen one Colorado potato beetle on an eggplant, 9 Japanese Beetles on my okra, not one Mexican bean beetles in two succession plantings of bush beans, a couple of squash bugs, and 7 or 8 Blister Beetles in this whole growing season. I do struggle with Squash Vine Borers, though I've kept them at bay longer and longer each season with a couple of techniques, and my eggplant are bothered by flea beetles, though not enough to keep them from pumping out lots of lovely fruit. I do see a little pest damage on the veggies that I pick, but I don't treat the plants with organic insecticides like Pyganic or diatomaceous earth unless I am going to lose a good share of the crop, because if I kill the "bad bugs" I'd be killing the "good bugs", too, the predators which keep the pesty insects in check. I attribute the shortage of "bad bugs" in my garden to all the hungry birds, all the "good bugs" and to the health of my plants and soil.  

I've started turning under the Crimson Clover
which has been growing in this bed so it can
decompose as a green manure. It will be my winter
bed under a hoop house. I left the volunteer
zinnia and will plant around it. :)

I know it sounds like I'm bragging, and I guess I am, but I get frustrated with the common attitudes about organic gardening and I wish I could help people see the advantages of not using chemicals on their gardens.

For those of you who do fall and winter gardens, it is time to begin preparing the soil and begin some of the planting. It is time to think about planting carrots. I have been turning under the green manure on one of my winter beds and have some bedding plants started in the greenhouse. I usually go ahead and put up the hoop house and cover it with a light row cover because there are a lot of hungry insects who like those sweet young plants. Row covers are one of the best tools for pest control. 

My friend, Donna, took this photo of my hoop house
a couple seasons ago.

I hope you'll consider a fall and winter garden, because, in Kentucky, you can get a great deal of fresh food and the growing is easy with typically cooler temperatures and plenty of rain, and the pests are taking a break. For more information about
fall and winter gardening and
hoop houses, visit

The bees are loving my dwarf crepe myrtle 
which is blooming it's heart out this
year and has such a sweet scent.

These Juliet "Roma" shaped tomatoes are a cross
between a cherry and a Roma type tomato.
The plants are taller than me and have
not had one sign of disease.
If things go as they usually do, they will keep
bearing baskets of tomatoes until the frost kills them.

I wish you all a happy Teltane and, if you garden, best wishes for a prosperous garden during this unusual garden season.  


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day Thoughts

I have been thinking a lot about the Earth. It isn't hard to see how, for many generations and many cultures, we have often thought of the Earth as our Mother. She literally feeds us. Try to think of something you eat that didn't come from the living soil, directly or indirectly. The minerals from the rocks of the Earth's surface, via plants and animals, make up our bones and are vital to the workings of our bodies.

I find it very sad that the profit-making form of agriculture so common on this planet now is destroying the very soil needed to feed us. I have read about how with industrial farming that for every ton of food produced we lose 6 tons of topsoil while filling what is left with toxic chemicals.

Did you know that healthy soil should have 600 million bacteria in a teaspoon? There should also be tens of thousands of protozoa and miles of fungal hyphae. If all these little friends were in our soil, the plants which feed us wouldn't need fungicides or bactericides.

It is because of this that I'm a compost fanatic. We compost all the vegetable trimmings from the kitchen, all the weeds and spent plants from the garden, and most everything else that will decompose, in a huge compost pile. The compost process requires and encourages the very life needed for healthy soil. The finished compost added back on your vegetable and fruit beds is like a shot in the arm for your garden. Growing cover crops and digging them into the soil is another wonderful way to recharge the life-filled soil.

Happy Earth Day. Give our Mother a shout out when you eat or drink or breathe today!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Synchronicities in the round

I can sense when I'm in a groove sometimes, because the universe starts feeding me synchronicities and coincidences. I'm reading a book about a theory that is able to mathematically account for the cosmic or metaphysically components of the universe. Thankfully it is written in laywoman's terms. I've begun to have supplementary information popping up in other areas of my life. I was noticing a circulation of coincidental happenings when this quote came up in my reading and really pulled the phenomenon together for me:

You see, where you put your energy, where you put your mind, is vitally central to your experience. If you begin with an act of faith and say, “I think life is this way and I’m going to live as if it were this way,” then you cast yourself into the midair of faith having no proof of anything but the simple feeling, the knowing, that all truly is well and that the universe does make sense. ...You simply need to let go of any preconceived notions as to how that works and simply engage in life to the best of your ability... The universe will begin to perceive you as joining the dance. You will begin to get synchronicities...The universe will begin to help you. You will feel that feedback. And the more you lean into that, the more you will receive it. *
Since I find that this groovy thing rarely happens when I'm stressed or over scheduled, I have been trying to keep my calendar more clear. This folds in well with the fact that I'm trying not to drive as much with the gas prices as high as they are.

Even so, I do need to go to town now and again. Yesterday I went to a meeting of local artists, a group called Gathering Artists, where we have been planning a collaborative exhibit for October. I have been working to finish a hand woven Wall Hanging of a sunrise I saw when I was in Nag's Head, North Carolina, and I brought it for "Show and Tell" at the meeting, despite the fact it wasn't quite done. I will finish embellishing with hand dyed silk and mount it in the next few days so I can put it in the fiber art exhibit of my work that is currently on display at the Boyle County Public Library. It is in the Mahan House Gallery if you'll be at the library and would like to stop in and see it. It will be there until May 6th.

You can see more of my fiber art on my web site,
When I was in town, I also needed to pick up some potting soil so I can pot up a bunch of bedding plants I have growing in the greenhouse. This has been the strangest spring and it is really hard to know when to start things both in the garden and inside, and when to put the plants from the greenhouse out in the garden. We have had downright hot temperatures, interpersed this past week with a number of frosty nights. We are waiting to see if the cold temperatures have damaged the blueberries, apples, pears and peaches. It did some damage to the strawberries, but they will bounce back, I feel certain. I had them covered in a hoop house, which added several degrees of protection. All my early greens and the broccoli and cauliflower are in hoop houses still, though on warm days I pull off the row covers.

As you can see, even with trying to keep the calendar clear, this is a busy time around here. Wish me luck with going round and round in the groove!