Seed Comparison Shopping

I was raised by a shopaholic mom. No joke. We would drive all the way from our house in Cary to as far as Greensboro just to get a deal. It was pretty fun as a pre-teen… my sister and mom and I would make a day of it and go all day on a Saturday. Our poor dad probably needed to eat an entire bottle of Tums when he heard mom say we were going shopping. I’m glad I never had to see those bills :-/.

Even though I’ve slowed down a bit now that I’m paying the bills myself, the thrill of the hunt runs strong in our family. Put my sister, mom, and I in a TJ Maxx and we can do some serious damage, unearthing amazing finds hidden in racks and behind throw rugs for dirt cheap. 

So, when it comes to buying seeds, it should come as no surprise that momma didn’t raise no fool. I look for the deals y’all. 

I am going to go big or go home this year in the garden, and a cut flower bed is GOING TO HAPPEN. See? I already laid out the bed shape! 

New L-shaped flower bed is happening!

Here are some thoughts as you’re doing your seed shopping:

Consider Free Seeds First

  • Did you know your local library *probably* has free seeds? They do! At our library, we can get up to 4 packets of free seeds from the “seed library” per season. They may not be the sexiest varieties, but hey, they’re free!
  • Also, ask other gardeners if they’d like to split seed packets or have any old seeds they didn’t like or don’t want to plant. 
  • Sometimes seed companies will give you a free packet of seeds if you spend over X amount of dollars with them. It’s a crap shoot, but you might get something for free. At Baker Creek, you get a free packet for every $35 you spend on seeds.
  • Now is a great time to look for free seeds in nature/your garden/public gardens! Spent seed heads may still have seeds in them at this time of year (my fennel certainly does!). If you know what grew there, it might be worth taking a gamble. 

Consider Unit Price

I’m finding that sunflower seeds are cheaper from Seed Saver’s Exchange. Though the price per packet is a bit higher, each packet contains more seeds. Take these identical varieties of Torch Sunflower from Seed Saver’s Exchange and Baker Creek, for example:

Torch Sunflower from Seed Saver's Exchange

VERSUS…

Initially the Baker Creek one looks like the better deal because it’s cheaper per pack. But look at the fine print… you’re only getting 35 seeds. Seed Saver’s Exchange gives you almost triple that amount for only slightly more money. Let’s so some math…yes, math.

$3.75/100 seeds = $0.04 per seed @ Seed Saver’s Exchange. Whereas $3.00/35 seeds = $0.09 per seed @ Baker Creek.

Math Memes | Memes

Now, does that price difference really matter all that much? No, it’s not a huge deal if you’re only buying a few seed packets. But me? I’m about to buy A LOT of seeds and sow A LOT of seeds at once (see shopping cart – Lord help me).

I’m not done here… this will get whittled down (likely by Jonah)

Jim Carrey The Mask - Imgflip

Please. This is my cry for help!!!

Generally speaking, I’d rather buy a greater quantity of seeds AND Fewer varieties than A Smaller QUANTITY of seeds AND MORE varieties.

Why? Because it’s better to plant SWATHS of plants than a bunch of individual plants.

Frankly, an individual plant looks kind of dumb all on its own, and it’s also more likely to get overlooked by pollinators and YOU, the gardener. Give it a friend! Or maybe 10 friends! When it comes to something like sunflowers, it’s also good to hedge your bets with more seeds because birds, squirrels, bunnies, and e’erybody else WILL go to town munching those newly planted seeds and seedlings. When you plant more of the same, you can afford to lose some to predation and bad weather

An exception to shopping by the unit price rule would be if you’re buying something kind of experimental. Like you aren’t sure it’s going to work in your zone or you’re not sure if you’ll love it or not. In that case, get the cheaper seed packet, even if there are fewer seeds. That way, you’re not wasting seeds if you decide not to grow it in future years and you’re not out a lot of money on seeds you hate.

Consider Varieties Available

Baker Creek and Johnny’s have WAY more varieties to choose from, so if you’re looking for a specific color or growth habit (i.e. for containers), you’re more likely to find it there than SSE. Take Hollyhocks, for example:

Baker Creek’s options don’t wow me… they don’t offer a packet that has a mix of colors:

But I’d LOVE the Outhouse variety from SSE for the combo of colors:

 

Consider Shipping Costs

Unless you’re buying seeds in person, rather than online, that is. Free shipping covers a multitude of sins. If you only want a few seed packs and the company does not offer free shipping, it might be best to find them at a local nursery instead.

Consider Hybrids

These will cost you a pretty penny, but they might be worth it for some plants. For instance, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to grow zucchini or yellow squash ever again (squash bugs and squash vine borers have gotten them almost every year), but if I did, I would DEFINITELY pay for an F1 that is resistant to powdery mildew and that pests might not like as much.

Hybrid vigor is a thing (hybrids produce more than open pollinated), but any seeds you save won’t be like the parent plant.

Here’s an example comparing zucchini varieties (not exactly apples to apples, since it’s different companies, but you get the picture):

An F1 from Johnny’s:

VERSUS

An open-pollinated from SSE:

I hope these tips help as you’re thinking about seeds for this year! For more on this subject, check out my entries from last year. Happy shopping!

 

Where to Start? Nursery Transplants vs Direct Sowing vs Indoor Seed Starting

All About Seeds – Part 1! Deciphering Seed Packets

All About Seeds – Part 2! Seed Lingo Decoded

All About Seeds – Part 3! Selecting Varieties for Planting

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2022 Goals: Carpe(t) Diem?

It’s that time of year again… time to evaluate how I did on my goals from the past year and make plans for the year ahead!

So how did I fare in 2021? SURVEY SAYS…. Meh.

2021 Goals revisited

As a reminder, here are my goals from last year (with updates in blue):

Verse: Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

I didn’t quite memorize this verbatim, but I have the gist of it in my head. This verse turned out to be very fitting for me this year. Over the past few years, I’ve been having a tough time with my mental health. Thanks to encouragement from friends and family, I finally did something about it and sought out therapy and medication to treat my depression. I am so thankful for the gift of a better state of mind and working towards wholeness and health. This was the biggest win of 2021 for me. Hooray! Thank you Jesus!

Personal Goals

Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus: How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform  Your Understanding: Tverberg, Lois: 9780801017155: Amazon.com: Books

        • These books made me think (because injustice is so angering, but these women overcame)

      • Prayer & kid journals daily – Yes! I did this! Now starting on year two of my journaling 🙂
      • Phone free mornings & offline day – Nope. But I have a new strategy for this year!
      • Daily one on one quiet time with God – Meh. Not really. I’d like to do better at this in 2022.
      • Less meat – For the most part, yes. I’ve subbed in beans for meat in a lot of dishes this year and I’ve been doing better at buying better quality meat when we do partake (certified humane, organic when possible).
      • Be fully present at meals – I’ve been doing somewhat better, but again need to do better at this in 2022.

Family Goals

      • Read a parenting book together – Technically we did this! It was a book about potty training (“Oh Crap! Potty Training”) and we listened to it as an audiobook, but I’m counting it!
      • Gave me the kick in the pants I needed to start potty training our oldest.

      • Visit more state parks/hiking – We did hike a fair amount, but didn’t make it to any new parks. We’ve enjoyed exploring our local parks a lot this year, though!
      • Hiking with friends at Horton Grove Nature Preserve

      • Farmers market once a month (post-COVID) – We still aren’t living in a post-COVID world, but I have been able to do this since getting vaccinated. I want to continue doing this in 2022.
        • Doing some apple variety reconnaissance at the state farmer’s market in November

Financial Goals

      • Open college accounts for baby 2 – We did this!
      • Save towards down payment – Yes! By automating our savings from our checking account to our house account, we were able to sock away a significant amount!
      • Dollar Dollar Bill Yall GIFs | Tenor

2022 Goals

This year’s theme is going to be Carpe(t?) Diem! The year of carpet (we need to get floor redone BADLY) and the year of seizing the day. This means not putting things off, taking full advantage of opportunities, praising God for all He has done, is doing, and will do, and living fully

Scripture for the Year: Psalm 150

Praise the Lord.a]

Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Personal Goals

  • Snacking after dinner no more than 3x/wk
    • My appetite is non-stop (maybe from nursing a baby?), but I’d like to have better self-control
  • Post on this blog 2x/mo
  • No phone in bedroom (to avoid endless scrolling and promote reading/better sleep habits)

Family Goals 

  • 1000 hrs outside in one year (we started this in November and are just 5 hours away from our first 100!). I’d love to have you join us! 
  • Carpet diem – new flooring in our house
  • Trips to Glacier National Park, Michigan (to visit my grandmother – we missed her 90th birthday last year), and a romantic weekend for me and Jonah without kids
  • Grinnell Peak reflects in the calm waters of Swiftcurrent Lake on a beautiful sunrise at Many Glacier

    Glacier National Park – I want to go to there!

 

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Tips on Planting Fruit Bushes & Notes on Leaf Hoarding

FRUIT!!!!!

My idea for adding fruit to our garden has come to fruition! Since my last post, the Jubilee Garden has grown by 144 square feet for a 4 ft x 36 ft blackberry and blueberry bed! There are 4 Osage Blackberries and one each of these blueberry varieties: Blueberry Buckle (a self-pollinating, dwarf hybrid), and Brightwell and Powder Blue (rabbiteye types that need another variety to cross-pollinate and produce fruit – does best in the south). This is my pipe dream of what I’ll be snacking on in about a year and a half…

Vaccinium Ashei Brightwell Rabbiteye Blueberry | SiteOne

Here are some things to consider if you’re planning on adding fruit to your landscape!

  1. Choose Fruits that are Suitable for Your Climate
    1. I love raspberries, but they don’t do well in NC. Blackberries do better, and I happen to like them, too.
    2. A garden retailer at my local farmer’s market told me that for my area, Apples and Peaches should be left to the professionals because we don’t get enough chill hours for most apple varieties here (do better in the NC mountains) and peaches have A LOT of problems that need to be heavily managed to yield a good crop (spraying). She probably shouldn’t have told me that, because now I sort of consider that a challenge (I’ll show you, farmers market lady!), but I’m going to prioritize the easier fruits over these.
    3. I’d love a grapevine, but bunch grapes require a lot of work, while muscadines are native to this area and basically don’t need any help.
  2. Pick the Best Varieties
    1. NC State has done all the hard work and figured out what works best and what’s most disease- and pest-resistant. If you’re going to go to all the trouble of planting, hedge your bets and listen to the experts! 
  3. Research the Best Time of Year to Plant
    1. Usually it’s fall/spring, but check your state’s cooperative extension website to see what they recommend for your area. Here in NC, either one works, but preference is usually for fall plantings for perennials and trees since our winters are mild. In areas with harsh winters (lots of sub-freezing temps), it may be better to wait until spring so the plants have a better chance of surviving.
  4. Consider Your Soil
    1. Blueberries need acidic soil, other fruits prefer neutral. You might need a soil test (link to my county’s testing site) to determine what you’re starting off with. I’ve never done a soil test, but I’ll probably do one this year because I learned it COSTS A MEASLEY $4 (I mean c’mon, so cheap!). AND if you do it during the growing season (April-Nov) it’s FREE!
    2. Free? free? free? free? - Nemo Seagulls | Meme Generator

      YUPPPP

  5. Determine the Right Planting Location
    1. Most fruits want full sun (6-8 hrs+ unfiltered light). LET THE SUNSHINE IN! They also need water, especially in the first year to get their roots established.
  6. Resist the Temptation
    1. The first year or two, you probably want to pick off any flowers you see on your plants, thus eliminating any fruit from being produced. This forces the plant to focus on root and vegetative growth. Sacrifice now means bigger, healthier plants and larger harvests later! I hate this so much, though! 
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My feelings about not eating fruit the first year after planting…

ALL THE LEAVES

Now a note on leaf hoarding. Initially, I started digging out a bed, but realized quickly that was a HORRIBLE idea. It’s labor intensive, time consuming, and completely unnecessary. Enter: SHEET MULCHING.

What is it? Essentially, you lay down something biodegradable to smother your grass and any weeds (I chose cardboard) and HEAP on the mulch (like 8+ inches worth).

In my case, I chose leaves because they’re plentiful AND FREE (can you see a theme here?). AND at this time of year, my wonderful neighbors have handily raked and packaged them for yard waste pickup – saving me labor and dolla dolla bills, ya’ll. So, yes, I creepily took rescued bags of leaves from my neighbors and family (most of the time, I asked first ;)). I definitely got some weird looks from people walking in the neighborhood as I fished leaves out of yard waste bins and hauled bags of leaves into the back of my SUV (sort of like a yard-waste hobo).

Leaves are worth their weight in gold as compost fodder and mulch. DO NOT LET THEM LEAF (ha!) your property! In fact, we got rid of your yard waste altogether and have never been happier!

Precious rescued cargo from my neighbor Brittany! Thanks girl!

For the new bed, you could use compost, leaf mold (composted leaves), or wood chips. Just don’t use something gross that could leach chemicals into your soil (dyed mulch, shredded rubber mulch). You could even build your beds using Hugelkultur (mounding sticks and other yard debris as the base of your bed as filler, leaving them to decompose over time… you’d still want to add some sort of finer mulch over top). 

Ideally, prepping beds should be done before planting, BUTTTTTTTTTTTTT…I was in a hurry, so I made do.

First, I figured out my spacing based on the mature size of the plants. It looks sparse now, but there’s room for them to grow. I can also plant annuals in the beds (flowers or veggies) these first few years to fill in the gaps.

Here are the steps for planting a new small fruits bed (if you haven’t prepped the bed in advance):

Measure how far you want your bed from existing plantings

Use stakes and string to define the bed area

Place plants with their full-grown size in mind

Dig holes 2x as wide and just as deep as the root ball of your bush. Plant away!

Check out that beautiful blueberry! And the great photography skills (sorry for the finger in the image!)

If planting in spring, you can add soil amendments if needed (acidifier for blueberries, for example). If your climate allows for fall or winter planting, don’t add anything that would spur new growth or bring the plant out of dormancy (fertilizer) until springtime.

add cardboard and your mulch of choice around the plantings

Here’s the final product!

Happy planting!

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What do you do with an Idea?

What do you do with an idea?

That’s the question one of the children’s books on our kids’ bookshelf poses. It’s a cute book with an adorable little egg-like protagonist. Well, if you’re an antsy gardener just coming off a gardening hiatus and you’ve literally planted every single square inch of your garden with fall seeds and perennials, you build stuff. Lots of stuff.

This past week I decided I needed to tinker in the garden. And I may or may not have constructed not one, but two massive bamboo lattice trellises. And forced my poor husband to build me two composting bays out of reclaimed pallets. 

Did I say reclaimed? It’s a funny word. Yes, I claimed them, salvaged them, which included me creepily cruising behind a shopping center, trying to awkwardly lift a few VERY heavy pallets. I’ve got the bruises and scrapes to prove it. Here are some fun facts I learned in the process:

  • Fun fact #1: a Toyota Highlander CANNOT fit more than one pallet in the trunk with the middle row of seats still up.
  • Fun fact #2: the Toyota Highlander has an alarm bell THAT WILL NOT TURN OFF unless every single door (including the back hatch) is securely shut.
  • Fun fact #3: carting around a screaming infant and a curious toddler while procuring said pallet is about as fun as gouging your eyes out with a spoon.

Take my word for it, leave the kids at home with your poor husband, remove the car seats, lay those seats down, and DRIVE like Sandra Bullock in Speed to your nearest strip mall during that crucial overlapping nap window.

Speed (1994) | BFI

I also “reclaimed” some invasive bamboo from our neighborhood common areas for the trellises. With just a pruning saw and some zip ties, I made these babies:

Jonah, looking like the world’s saddest husband as I inform him we are expanding the garden into freshly re-seeded lawn area. Sorry I’m not sorry.

Impressive right? Well, I didn’t start this blog to lie to you good people of the internet. No, no. Here’s the mess that sat in our garage for 3 days while I “worked on it”. 

Day 1 Progress: I cut some bamboo and “reclaimed” pallets, then I threw them haphazardly into the garage.

Day 2 Progress: Look! I started laying out bamboo canes and I zip tied a few together. I’ve also expertly blocked the door into the house so you have to hopscotch your way in and out. Amazingly, no one tripped and died.

Day 3 Progress: SQUIRREL! Er, tree frog! I got a little distracted by this cute little buddy.

Ermagherd! It’s Kermit IRL!

Then I started getting ideas. And you should know by now that those are dangerous. Here are the conversations between Jonah and I the past week:

Me: “Hey Jonah, look at these AMAZING new trellises I BUILT. WITH MY OWN TWO HANDS! What if we put the trellis on the deck? We could create our own living shade/privacy wall! It would be amazing!”

Jonah: “Remember two years ago when you tried to trellis squash plants to the deck? And they got super tangled and half of them rotted?”

Me: “Okay, true. But we could put planters on the deck this time and just trellis up something light weight like beans or peas. Or a fruit! Oh a fruiting/flowering thing!”

Jonah: “Okay…..”

Me: “I can see you don’t like this idea at all. So how about this… we could put them out near our garden boxes!”

Jonah: “Didn’t you just have me buy electrical conduit to make arches BETWEEN the boxes? Isn’t that kind of a lot going on for one box? Plus, these bamboo structures would be really top-heavy the way you have them oriented.”

Me: [increasingly exasperated because gosh darnit THESE TRELLISES ARE GOING SOMEWHERE!] OKAY. Here’s what we’ll do. We’re going to ADD A STRIP to the garden. I’m going to plant something vine-y on them, TBD. But there will likely be new blueberry bushes involved in this plan. Did I mention I GOT ALL OF THIS FO’ FREE WITH MY AMAZING FRUGAL SKILLS???? (including new blueberry cuttings from a neighbor that are currently rooting out?)

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED????

Are You Not Entertained? | UMKC Roo News

Blueberry roots – booyah!

No, no he was not. But by hook or by crook, this is happening.

In all seriousness, Jonah has been very supportive and is the tether that keeps me from sailing away into the sky like a sad balloon lost at some kid’s 5th birthday party. I mean just look at the blood, sweat, and tears he was willing to shed on my behalf to help make my composting dreams come true:

My husband, about to win some sort of badge of honor for doing this for me. Check out instructions from one of my favorite YouTubers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW_DVNUt7ms

So what do you do with an idea? You dream some dreams, get creative, and make it happen! More updates on the expansion to come!

 

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Surprise Persimmon

Don’t you love surprises?

Earlier this week, I was looking out our kitchen window, which faces the garden and tree line behind our house and saw what appeared to be a pair of orange eyes staring at me. 

Maybe it’s just my wild imagination, or the fact that Halloween (the best holiday of the year) is upon us, but it seriously gave me a spook!

There’s an owl that frequents our backyard that we’ve actually seen, so my wild imagination wondered if somehow it had gone Bunnicula on us. Turns out, the two orange “eyes” were actually persimmons!

Bunnicula Strikes Again! eBook by James Howe - 9781442451940 | Rakuten Kobo  United States

For everyone who needed a throwback to 4th grade Language Arts

On closer inspection, I figured out that we have TWO young persimmon trees along the tree line that I’ve never noticed before. I don’t know if this is just the first year that they’ve fruited or if I’m just oblivious, but I’ve taken this as a huge win for the Jubilee Garden! Things that I didn’t plant or care for just doing their thang. Proof again that God is good, He is faithful, and He always provides (for both us and all the little critters)!

Since there are only a few fruits on these trees (like less than five per tree), I’m assuming that they’re on the order of 10 years old. Most fruit trees take, on average, five years before they begin to produce fruit, and the first few harvests are pretty wimpy. But the American Persimmon (I’m taking a stab in the dark that they’re not the Oriental variety) is a stubborn little fella  and can take 10-15 years to fruit. It’s a good thing I didn’t plant these, because I don’t know if I have that kind of patience. Once they get going, though, it’s hard to get them to stop.

In fact, the American Persimmon has no known insect pests or disease problems. Just another reason why wild natives are awesome! Plus they’re food for birds and other garden friends.

I’ve found a few other wild persimmons in the neighborhood, and had a horrible experience trying to eat the fruit. I don’t know if it was just that the fruit wasn’t ready yet or those particular trees got funk-ified somehow, but the fruit tasted like I was eating sidewalk chalk. Couldn’t get that furry taste out of my mouth for several hours – yuck! According to the NCSU Extension website, the fruits of American Persimmon are supposed to be really sweet when ripe, so maybe I’ll give it another go this year. But with much, much smaller test bites!

Can you spot the Persimmons?

 

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That time I straight up broke my shovel…

I broke a shovel today! I don’t know whether to be angry or somewhat proud of myself for exerting that much force.

RIP shovel!

Im Not Even Mad GIFs | Tenor

I’ve been doing battle with some horrible holly bushes next to our house for the past year. Actually, scratch that, since we moved here. The people who lived in this house before us made some very interesting gardening choices. And by interesting, I mean ridiculous. Like planting a fig tree six feet from the house (it touches the house and has to be pruned every single year), a giant crape myrtle 5 feet from the house (same problem), filling a bed with pebbles WITHOUT lining it with weed blocking fabric first (weed city), and most insanely of all, planting approximately a dozen holly bushes around the house, pretty much right on top of each other.

A well manicured holly is fine, and the berries are great for the birds in wintertime, but seriously these people must have been blissfully ignorant of the plant tags when they planted everything. Like didn’t care about plant spacing AT ALL. I could go on and on about the weirdness around here, but I’ll save you the headache. Let’s just leave it at I’ve been re-designing and correcting their poor choices since Jonah and I got married and I moved in.

This spring (because pregnancy hormones are real), I finally had it with the hollies and decided that I needed to renovate the garden bed next to our garage door since it’s pretty visible from the street. After hacking them to the ground as an attempt to kill them earlier this year, yesterday I started the undertaking of removing the root balls to really put the nail in the coffin.

HOLY COW. Talk about physical labor! The first root ball was maybe 30ish pounds and took me about an hour to get out. The second one ended up being 60 pounds (easily), and even with the help of an awesome new tool I tried – a mattock – I still broke our shovel.

Mattock – part axe, part digger, part awesome.

Needless to say, I was seriously channeling my inner Rosie the Riveter (and I will also be taking some ibuprofen soon):

Massive holly root balls – gnarly!

Rosie the Riveter We Can Do it Poster

The new plan for that bed will be a purple butterfly bush in the center (I had one pop up in our backyard that I’m going to transplant), some coral-hued mums in a semi-circle in front of the butterfly bush, and some pansies (also corals/reds) and dusty millers in front of that. I hope to get that done tomorrow and will post pictures once it’s done!

Little butterfly bush I’m going to transplant (on the right)

 

Craters left behind by the massive root balls

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Back in the Saddle Again

Well, well, well! The Jubilee garden is back in full swing! 

After a much needed hiatus from the garden (in which the garden STEADILY continued to provide fruit, veggies, and flowers I did not plant), I’m back to it. This week, I sowed seeds for my fall/spring garden. Here in NC, most of our fall plantings do decently over winter. 

I find the fall garden to be simpler than a summer garden. There are fewer things to grow, so I can really focus on just a few types of crops that I really enjoy. There also seems to be less planning (or at least I’m treating it that way!). I know this garden isn’t going to be meeting all my family’s produce needs over the winter (because I’m not a homesteader or living off the grid), so there’s a lot less pressure to make it work. My attitude is, if it grows, awesome! If it fails, there’s always Harris Teeter.

First off, I have to give credit to my mini- gardener of a daughter who helped me with this garden plan earlier in the week (see below). Don’t you just love it!? Her explanation was that the green blocks are green beans, orange are pumpkins, red are tomatoes, and blue are blueberry bushes. Oh, and there’s a tree and some cat toys in there for good measure.

My daughter's garden plan

Can I stress again how important it is to make a plan? And also to be ready to adjust that plan once you’re outside in your space? Here’s why:

This was my original, completely organized idea of what I was going to plant and where:

fall plantings draft

ANNNNNDDDD then I got outside and random volunteer plants were already growing in some of the spaces (like Strawberry Spinach, which I think we’ll eat), so I made some notes on post-its, like this:

So here’s what ended up happening for real:

Fall plantings revised

Orange items are plantings I had to change because:

  1. I ran out of fava beans,
  2. I realized garlic was a poor choice for around the center trellis since I plan to plant peas or beans on it in the spring and alliums like garlic don’t tango with legumes
  3. Strawberry spinach self-sowed in my last bed and I’m not about to pull up a free spinach plant – we eat spinach salads almost every single week!

Dont Get Crazy Bon Qui Qui GIF - Dont Get Crazy Crazy Bon Qui Qui GIFs

It’s good to be flexible in the garden! 

Now, what I’m sure you’re really here to see are all my happy seedlings and garden pictures. Happy to oblige. Until next time… happy gardening!

Fava beans going in! Also, dandelion diggers are THE BEST seed planting tool. 

So, so good to be back as master of my domain!

This is why you have to be ready to adjust your life plans (and plants!). Originally planned to plant mostly brassicas in here, but strawberry spinach plants are doing their thang. Who am I to interfere?

See all those green specks? Um yeah. I’m pretty sure those are ALL strawberry spinach babies. They’re multiplying like rabbits!

Baby greens popping up already!

I bought the marigolds, but everything else in this picture came up on their own. Go Jubilee Garden, go!

Butterfly bushes are doing AWESOME this year.

Free plants! Volunteer butterfly bush. So stoked to transplant this little fella soon!

Hey there little Asters!

Might be a bit hard to see, but those little seedlings along the grass line are cilantro seedlings! They self sowed!

We threw out our black oil sunflower seeds from our bird feeder due to the mystery illness wreaking havoc on birds. Guess what? Those seeds were VI-A-BLE! Also, hey there little coneflower volunteer!

Fig clones! I shall call them… mini-tree!

Verne Troyer's tragic death underlines the harm Mini-Me caused people with dwarfism | Verne Troyer | The GuardianYou’re welcome for the Austin Powers throw back ;).

These fig saplings are getting so big!

 

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James Chapter 2 (Part 1)

James has been hitting me over the head the past two weeks. Have you ever had that happen to you? Suddenly the one thing you’ve been procrastinating on starts appearing in every aspect of your life. I’ve had conversations with no less than five people about the book of James in the past two weeks, and not by my prompting. Coincidentally, it was also part of the lectionary reading for last week! Okay God, I get it. You want me to know something about this passage. So no more procrastinating… let’s dig into James!

James 2:1-4

This is the section that’s been bugging me the most. Favoritism. We’re all guilty of it, but we’re also all prone to say it’s not a real problem for us. Do we discriminate? No way! We’re educated, “woke”, and you might even say “better than” being discriminatory. We’d never let someone’s clothes dictate whether we allowed them into our friend circles.

Yeah, right.

Take a look around at your closest group of friends. The people in your church. Who you spend most of your time with. People you admire and respect. 

What do they look like? 

Do they look like you? Odds are, they probably do. They might even wear the exact same pair of black compression leggings, black and white stripe t-shirt, and Jerusalem Cruisers (my sister’s fond way of referring to Chaco sandals). That’s my mom uniform, and let me tell you, when I take the kids out to the museum or the park, every single mom is rocking that very same outfit. And those are the moms I talk to.

Now think about the people you aren’t talking to. The people you shrink away from. The people you make an excuse not to reach out to. “Oh they’re too busy,” “It looks like she’s got her hands full,” “I can’t speak Spanish,” “Her kids seem wild.” 

Favoritism is alive and well in our society and in our hearts, mine included.

Verses 3-4: “If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

Yikes.

Okay, but as it turns out, James argues that those same “poor” people you despise are actually the people who you should look to, because often they are the ones with rock-solid faith.

Verse 5: “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”

A Fun, True, and embarrassing Story:

At church one Sunday, I came across a man who was sitting in the back of the church. There were no services going on (it was Sunday School hour) and I was looking for some extra bulletins. This guy had on ripped sweatpants, walked with a limp, and to be frank, didn’t smell fresh. I honestly thought he was homeless and was coming to the church looking for assistance. 

So there I was in my Banana Republic skirt, floral blouse, and high heels alone with a guy who seemed extremely out of place. And you know what? I walked away from him.

After a few minutes (that seemed like an eternity) of the Holy Spirit nagging on me to go talk to this man and check on him, I finally made an effort to welcome him and see what he needed.

And you’re never going to believe this… he was a relative of one of our Sunday School members!!! This man, who I pre-judged as being less than me is actually a patent-holder, author, and stroke survivor. He was simply mistaken about the time our services started and was waiting for the next one. And the hilariously ironic part of this story is that he ended up joining our Sunday School class and studied the Bible with us for an entire year. 

I am exhibit A when it comes to being a Judgey McJudgerson. Thankfully, God is still working on me and he’s not done yet. Hallelujah for second (and third, and fourth, and fifth…) chances.

ANNNNDDDDD Back to James

James 2:6-7

James digs that knife in a little deeper and points out that those same people we idolize (the rich) are actually causing us harm. The Jeff Bezos of the world who race to space but don’t put their employees health and well being first. The politicians and producers who get off scot-free or with a slap on the wrist while the victims of their sexual assaults are publicly shamed and sent death threats. Yes, actually James, you have a good point there. 

James 2:8-9

These verses set up the argument James is about to make, and it’s sort of complex, so we’re going to break it down bit by bit. Verses 8 and 9 lay out that loving our neighbor = right and favoritism is sin = wrong. Simple so far.

James 2:10-11

This is a leap. Sometimes I fall flat on my face when I read stuff like this because it’s starting to sound like Philosophy 101. James is saying that  ANY error we make equates to breaking the ENTIRE law. We become “lawbreakers”. If you break a single law, you are by definition, a law-breaker. You can’t say, “well, I’m a law keeper, except for this one law that I broke”. Nope. There are no exceptions. You’re a law-breaker now. Maybe a heartbreaker, too, if you’re Pat Benatar. I digress…

40 Years Ago: Pat Benatar Breaks Through With 'Heartbreaker'

It’s interesting to me that verse 11 stresses that what we’re really doing is going against God: “For he who said…”. God makes the law, and when we break it, we’re breaking our relationship with God.

James 2:12

So what does this mean, “the law that gives freedom”? Surely, James can’t be talking about all those Levitical laws? The truth is, that the law – the entire law as found in the Bible – is freeing. The law isn’t there to just bust our chops. It’s there to protect us from a lot of negative consequences. Things that can harm ourselves and others. It’s also there to show us that we need a savior, because perfection is out of our reach on our own merit. Jesus himself says, in Matthew 5:17-20, that He came to fulfill the law, not abolish it.

James 2:13

As a result of the mercy we have been shown, we ought to show mercy to others. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

There’s a lot to unpack in James, so I’m going to tackle the rest of chapter 2 in another post. Hope you have a great week!

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Raleigh Farmer’s Market

In my quest to visit a bunch of our local farmer’s markets, I took a trip to the BIG Raleigh Farmer’s Market (AKA the State Farmer’s Market). 

Talk about huge, this is THE market to go to if you need ANYTHING. They have it all! In addition to the typical fruits and veggies, they have dedicated buildings for dry goods, refrigerated items, crafts, pottery and garden/home furnishings, a coffee shop and even a restaurant! 

My good friend Melody (also the design genius who helped create the logo and color scheme for this website) and I took a trip to this market with the kids back in July. Here are a few pictures from our outing to give you an idea of what the market has to offer!

General thoughts and impressions of this market:

  • HUGE selection. You can truly replace you weekly grocery shopping with going to this market. They’ve got it all – meats, dairy, dry goods, produce, soaps, etc.
  • I noticed this market seems to have less of a focus on organic products. I didn’t see any signage advertising organic.
  • BUSY. Take my advice and go on a weekday during peak season (summer). Saturdays are extremely busy. I assume it’s a little better on weekends in the fall/winter.
  • Since it’s open every day, it’s convenient to drop by and get what I need anytime I need it. It’s true more vendors come to the market on Saturdays, there’s still a great selection any day of the week you go!
  • Can be overwhelming, since there’s a huge selection. Come with a list of what you need (but be prepared for a few impulse purchases, too!)

I love this market! While it’s a bit of a drive from my house, it’s definitely worth it to get specialty items, like handmade soaps and dry goods!

 

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A Study on the Book of James – Background & Chapter 1

I thought for the next few weeks we’d do a deep dive into the book of James. What say you?Let’s take a look together! I’ll be using the Moody Bible Commentary’s analysis by John F. Hart to guide us.

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Background & fun facts

  • Probably the first New Testament book written
  • Probably written by Jesus’ half brother who didn’t believe Jesus Christ (JC) was the Messiah until AFTER JC was resurrected
  • “James” is our  anglicized version of the author’s name, which in Hebrew is Jacob or Iakabos in Greek
  • Has several parallels to JC’s Sermon on the Mount
  • Wasn’t accepted as scripture until late 300s AD since the early church focused mainly on the Gospels and Paul’s writings 
  • Might be *the most* relevant book of the New Testament for modern, Western readers due to its themes about wealth and worldliness (according to John F. Hart’s commentary on James)

Let’s jump into the first section of chapter 1:

James, Chapter 1

James 1:1

This is the greeting section and from it we learn several things:

  • It’s a letter
  • It’s from James
  • James believes JC is Lord and has dedicated his life to JC’s service. This is especially noteworthy if it is in fact written by Jesus’ half brother since we know that James only came to faith after Jesus’ resurrection (Mark 6:3, Acts 1:14)
  • It’s to Jew-to-Christian converts who have been scattered away from Israel

Moving on!

James 1:2-8

This is a section of encouragement. Think about this group of people – diaspora Jews turned Christians living in the first century AD. This is maybe the pinnacle of persecution for the early church. They’ve lost their homeland and all the social acceptance that goes along with being part of the Jewish community. They are outcasts and strangers in a strange land, quite literally.

James tells these people to be joyful. Man, what a tough situation to be joyful in. And why be joyful? Because this testing of their faith produces perseverance. They are developing their Christian character through their trials.

We learn that perseverance creates maturity and completeness. We also see that wisdom is available to us – we just have to ask God for it! BUT, and this is a big but, they have to believe without doubting that God will give it. So lesson #1 can be summed up in this: persevere and don’t doubt.

James 1:9-12

Our position (rich or poor) doesn’t prevent us from experiencing these trials and temptations. Everyone experiences them, and riches can’t protect us. The prize for enduring is life

James 1:13-18

God doesn’t tempt us – temptation is a result of our sin. No, instead God gives good gifts to his children. He chose us and created us through the word of truth. And we are a kind of offering/example for the rest of the world.

James 1:19-25

Chill out! Don’t let anger get the best of you. Human anger isn’t effective in producing righteousness. We have to accept God’s word for ourselves, not just listen to it. We have to live it! We should know it like we know our own reflection.

James 1:26-27

True religion is not about talking the talk, it’s about walking the walk. We should help the helpless (widows and orphans) and stand apart from the pattern of the world.

 

Next week we’ll look at Chapter 2! I’m looking forward to studying this and hope you’ll come along. What do you think of James 1? What stands out to you most? Leave your comments below!

James 1:22-24

 

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