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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