Friday, March 19, 2010


I am the first one in my family to go to gardening school!
Pooh on all their BSs, MSs and PHDs, I am now a
Master Gardener in training.
Yesterday was my third lesson. Already the mysteries are beginning to reveal themselves. Who knew that soil (you can’t say dirt) needs to be 25% air, 25% water and 50%other stuff. Needless to say that it’s hard to figure out how I will get to that from the hard clay and rock that is my mountain home. But now that the secrets of the universe are within my grasp I have faith.
I must say that everything is a bit more complicated than I thought. It’s a miracle that anything I did before brought forth so much. Just think of what will happen now. I started out taking copious notes but it occurred to me that everything is probably in the book issued us. The history of the world could be in there it’s about 6 inches thick. My time is better spent listening to the stream of experts that come to talk to us.
Being a noticer, there are many things I have noticed about this group. The first thing was that nobody in the group is excessively fluffy. In fact, I may be the fluffiest person there. I’m working on that. The second is that while they all take the course seriously, no one seems to take themselves too seriously. I like that. The third is that it’s not clubby, I like that. We are there for a purpose. And I’m learning so much! I like that!!!
One of the things I have long thought was verified by our speaker yesterday. The plant can’t distinguish between nutrients provided organically or chemically. Nitrogen is nitrogen is nitrogen. So spending outrageous amounts of money on the idea that everything must be organic is a choice, not a law, even for good gardeners.
I will give you some trivia every week from the course.
Did you know that a tomato is a berry? Did you know that an Irish potato is a stem? Did you know that all tree nuts are fruits?
That’s all the news for now. See you next week.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I love birds and my neighbor loves squirrels – can you see the collision coming?
She proudly told me last winter that she had “raised” an entire litter of squirrels in her yard. I took a deep breath and responded in my nicest tone – OH.
I feed the birds, more regularly than I feel the humans that live here, and nearly as often as I feed my beloved dog. I buy special feed for the birds, I know what food each kind likes to eat and I furnish it. I cut oranges and put grape jelly for the orioles in their feeder. I have the thistle feeder, the sunflower seed feeder, and the mixed seed feeder. My neighbors are no longer shocked to see me in my jammies filling a bird feeder.
This year I have one less feeder as the squirrels ate the bottom wire mesh out of a feeder my step-mother gave to me. Now all my feeders are squirrel-proof, a complicated system of heavy wire cage around the feeder which only birds can get thru, baffles, greased hangers, I have it all. And no one has told the squirrels that they cannot get into these feeders so they try several times each day.
This summer I had a new bird, a hawk. I don’t know what hawks eat, and I don’t feed him, but I think he eats small rodents and he spends a lot of his time perched on a post in my backyard. I do not discourage him, I look at him as a second line of defense against the fat little squirrels, even my most imperial tone doesn’t discourage them more than a few seconds.
My dog will not chase squirrels as she has figured out after several attempts that she cannot climb trees, so why put forth the effort. The odds there are too uneven.
This winter, as the trees all lost their leaves, I can look out my window and see dozens of bird nests in the branches. I think I have identified the hawk nest, it is the largest of all the nests and in the maple tree in my front yard.
So, I watch my hawk (I have taken possession of him as much as anyone can a hawk), I feed the birds, I chase the squirrels, who aren’t one bit afraid of me and will run up a tree and cuss down at me, and I know I must truly blessed to have such a circus going on in my backyard.