July Garden Update

I’ve got a fever… and the only prescription is more flowers!

We’ve got COVID – womp womp :(. Since we’ve been home isolating and I haven’t been up for manual labor, I’ve been doing a lot of daydreaming about gardening. It feels like winter to me… stuck inside, going stir crazy. To combat the boredom, I read a book on cut flower gardening (by Erin Benzakein of Floret Farm), watched YouTube videos (this, this, this, and this) on how to arrange flowers, and started filling up virtual shopping carts with bulbs and flower seeds to plant this fall. By the way, if you haven’t done so already, now’s the time to start thinking about and ordering spring-blooming bulbs to plant this fall. 

Here’s the scoop on what’s been going on in the garden lately.

Bugs & Critters

It’s July, and the garden is at its peak (check out the photos tab at the top of the page for the latest garden photos). Flowers are blooming, veggies and fruits are producing, and bugs and critters are having a heyday. The days are now getting shorter since we’ve passed the summer solstice, and with that, the rate of growth of most plants slows down. I’m starting to notice little holes here and there in the garden, either from plants that didn’t germinate, got hit by the heat/dry days we had in June, or have been ravaged by pests. Lessons I’m re-learning: I need butterfly netting for brassicas from now on, squash vine borers are the devil/I do not have the patience and vigilance to grow summer squash, and bunnies and squirrels from far and wide see our garden as an all-you-can-eat buffet. Here are a few pests I’ve seen lately:

Leaf-footed bug, a relative of stink bugs that likes to eat garden fruits and veggies

Japanese Beetles mating on my canna lilies…grrr!

The dreaded Squash Vine Borer. Killing off my zucchini plants like it ain’t no thang.

Cabbage white caterpillar decimating my broccoli plants.

Cabbage white caterpillar decimating my broccoli plants.

Tree Frogs

In the week or two since we’ve been under the weather, there has been a MASSIVE explosion in our tree frog population. Baby tree frogs are EVERYWHERE. While mowing our yard yesterday, I felt like I was playing frogger in the most literal way. I had to slow WAY down to coax the little tree frogs out of the mower’s path. As far as I know, I didn’t hit any, but some of them seemed to have a death wish. Ironically, the She Reads Truth Bible Study going on right now is Exodus, and I’m almost at the frog plague part! 

Weeds

In years past, I haven’t stayed on top of pruning like I should, and as a result, our yard ends up looking like a jungle by July. This year, I’m being ruthless with trimming and weeding. There have been a few plants I wasn’t sure of the ID, so I let them grow until I could determine what they were by leaf patterns/flowers/fruits. As it turns out, some of these very giant plants I have been nurturing and protecting are just big ol’ weeds. Oops! Here they are so you don’t make the same mistake I did!

Tech-Y Stuff

Word to the wise, if you have Google Photos on your phone, you can take a photo and use the “lens” functionality to do a quick image search for plant and bug IDs – it’s amazing. It’s also a little bit creepy because it’s Google, after all.

I’m still working on getting pictures updated. It looks like I’ll need to just re-upload most of the photos that aren’t working, so I’ll work from the current post, going back. 

Well that’s all for now! See you back on the blog soon!

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Technical Difficulties

The hard part about keeping an online log of my gardening endeavors is that I have to do COMPUTER STUFF sometimes. I’d rather be frolicking in a meadow somewhere (and usually I am, which is why I post less frequently during the growing season). Most of the time, my nerdy husband can help with the techy stuff… (this great SNL skit comes to mind:)

This time, I’m going to try to fix it myself. Say a prayer and send wine!

Overnight, the majority of my photos on this site disappeared. I still have them locally, but I’m thinking there’s probably an issue with how I’m linking to them in Google Photos. 

So, all that is to say, I’m working on restoring these photos as I can. Here goes!

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The Colors Duke, The Colors!

Remember this gem?

Today the Assistant Garden Manager (my oldest daughter) and I, saw a really cool sight – we watched a Green Anole change color right before our eyes! The only reason we noticed this little guy is because we were watering some plants and he hopped right onto our hose reel. When we saw him the first time, he was a brown color, blending in nicely to the compost. When we finished watering, we came back, looking for him and saw a bright green Anole in just about the same location and figured it must be the same one. 

A Green Anole right after he hopped out from some daffodil foliage.

Sure enough, as we continued to watch him, he started to get darker as he did a split on our brick siding. So cool!

Will we see this guy participating in the 2024 Olympics???

I see you, boo! He’s a regular old Sally O’Malley. What a neat little creature!

A Green Anole peeking out from under our siding.

 

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Wild Card Wednesday – a good laugh + Dahlia Cuttings

Dude Dad, one of my favorite YouTube channels just released this video and it’s so on point. Do you identify, too? Hope your spring is going well and that you’re getting elbow deep in dirt! I’m adding more pictures of the garden to the “photos” tab as I plant things, and I hope you enjoy! April 15th is the average last frost date in our area, so I’m in full-on planting mode. On the docket for today… taking dahlia cuttings to propagate! This is my first time trying it, so I’m following the method below. Wish me luck! 

 

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Worship with me!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a devotional, and given that tomorrow is Sunday, I’m thinking it would be great to just worship together. What do you think? Here are some songs that really help me focus on Christ and praise His name. Join with me today in blessing Jesus’ holy name! He is worthy of ALL our praise!

 

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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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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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SoDu Farmer’s Market

SoDu Farmer's Market

This year, since I’m not growing as much food as I normally would in our garden, I’ve been trying out different farmer’s markets in the area. Can I just say, I love farmer’s markets?! Let me count the ways!

  1. Supporting local growers and producers keeps resources here and promotes the local economy.
  2. By supporting local, I can also avoid shipping costs and reduce my carbon footprint.
  3. Avoiding excess packaging is better for the earth. I can bring my own bag to the market and buy loose veggies and fruits instead of items wrapped in plastic wrap. Less trash is a win in my book!
  4. I can choose to support organic and sustainable farmers who are committed to preserving the land and local ecosystems. Plus I don’t have to worry about anything sprayed on my food.
  5. I can meet the people who grow my food and hear their stories, get great ideas for recipes, get gardening tips, and learn about other community resources (places that do U-pick, local artisans, etc).
  6. I get to try varieties I can’t find in the grocery store.
  7. This is helping me meet one of my annual goals!

This week, I checked out a small farmer’s market that was new to me – the South Durham (or SoDu) Farmer’s Market. I must be living under a rock, because I just found out about this market and it’s just up the road from us! 

This market is a hidden gem! I love that it’s a small market, parking is easy peasey, and it still has everything I could possible need – baked goods, seafood, handmade soaps, ciders, cheeses, meats, and produce. They even have a homemade pasta vendor! It’s held in a parking lot that also contains a DMV license plate office, which I ironically had to visit just a few weeks ago. Let’s just say, I’d much rather be shopping than waiting in line at the DMV.

 

Is it just me or do you ever feel intimidated by farmer’s markets? I frequently get flustered and overwhelmed by all the variety and abundance around me and often just end up purchasing whatever catches my eye. Usually, that means I come home with whatever vegetables or fruits are front and center in the displays.

What I really enjoyed about this farmer’s market was that many of the vendors had chalkboards out front with a list of their offerings. That gave me a better idea of what was for sale and lessened the pressure/feeling guilted into buying something just because I approached a booth. This week, I challenged myself to get something other than fruits and vegetables, so here’s what I got. I was super pleased!

 

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms from Haw River Mushrooms

Lions Mane Mushroom

Lions Mane Mushroom (picture from https://ramblecreekfarm.com/store/product/lions-mane-mushroom-fresh)

I know what you’re thinking… that mushroom looks alien. That’s what I thought, too! At the suggestion of their super friendly employee, Fran, I tried these because she said they taste like crab meat. Jonah is a huge crab cake fan but hates mushrooms, so I did the ol’ switcheroo to see if he could tell the difference. Guess what? He couldn’t! I used this recipe from Aubrey’s Kitchen and they turned out great! Also, I had a lovely conversation with Fran about her time living in Washington state and found out that we have a mutual love of Mt. Ranier National Park.

Chopped Lion's Mane Mushroom

Chopped up it doesn’t look so bad, does it?

 

Peaches fromKen Chappell’s Peaches and Apples

Hallelujer! Fresh peach season is here. There’s really no point in eating peaches out of season. These are so delicious and perfectly ripe right now.

Hallelujer Madea

Peaches

 

“Field of Creams” Goat Cheese fromProdigal Farm

I love the mission of this local goat dairy. They really treat their animals well. They have a punchcard program for $10 of free cheese once you get 10 punches (one punch for every $10 spent). For this dairy lover, that’s a pretty great deal. Plus, I give them extra points for creativity in naming their cheeses!

"Field of Creams" Goat Cheese from Prodigal Farm

“Field of Creams” Goat Cheese from Prodigal Farm

Field of Dreams Meme - if you build it the memes will come.

 

Pastries fromNinth Street Bakery

Ummm, I didn’t get pictures of these because Jonah, the kids, and I demolished them! We really enjoy this great, local bakery. This time, we got two cinnamon rolls, a morning bun, and a bear claw. YUM! Here’s a drool-worthy picture of them from their website. 

Cinnamon Rolls from Ninth Street Bakery

Cinnamon Rolls from Ninth Street Bakery

I really enjoyed my visit to the SoDu Farmer’s Market and plan to go back soon to get some seafood, eggs, and meat! Do you have a recommendation of other farmer’s markets I should try? Drop it below in the comments so I can visit and report back.

SoDu Farmer's Market

SoDu Farmer’s Market is located at Greenwood Commons Shopping Center: 5410 NC-55, Durham, NC 27713. Open 8am-12pm every Saturday, year round.

 

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Wild Card Wednesday!

It’s Wild Card Wednesday(WCW)! What is WCW? It’s the best day of the week, is what!

On Wild Card Wednesdays, I’m going to bring you something I find truly hilarious, poignant, or just can’t keep to myself because it’s that good.

Today you’re in for a treat! The best slapstick humor of all time from one of my favorite shows, Parks & Rec. Enjoy!

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Why So Much Garden Imagery in the Bible?

Have you ever noticed that the Bible is chock-full of gardens? Well, maybe you didn’t, but now you’re not going to be able to unsee it! 

 

  • The Bible both starts AND ends in a garden. 
  • The tabernacle & later the temple are modeled after Eden
  • Old Testament prophets frequently use planting parables to explain coming judgment and deliverance (Isaiah 5:1-7, Jeremiah 2:21, Psalm 80:8-16, Isaiah 37:30, Isaiah 65:21-22, Jeremiah 29:5 & 28, Ezekiel 28:26, Amos 9:14).
  • Old Testament wisdom books use garden metaphors to explain prosperity and disaster.
  • Jesus tells parables about fields and gardens non-stop. 
  • Jesus goes to Gethsemane (another garden) before he is betrayed by Judas Iscariot to the Jewish leaders. 
  • Jesus tells the criminal next to him on the cross that today he’ll be with Him in paradise (translated “garden”).
  • Mary mistakes Jesus for the gardener after He is resurrected. 

… and that’s just scratching the surface.

 

Heck, you can even buy a green-letter Bible that highlights all of the instances of God’s care and concern for creation. I’m not making this up! I’m intrigued by this (and might have to get myself a copy sometime!).

 

(this is an Amazon Affiliate link)

 

So why so much garden imagery in the Bible?

 

That’s a good question. In searching around I found a few different ideas:

 

  • Gardens and agriculture were kind of a big deal in Ancient Near-Eastern Culture.

It wasn’t just the Israelites who were into their gardens. Sumerians (ancient Mesopotamians) believed in a creation story (Enki & Ninhursag) that focused on a garden. Plus, both cultures were positioned in the Fertile Crescent, an area known for the birth of agriculture / the cradle of civilization. Ancient hearers and readers would have understood a garden metaphor pretty well because they lived it (tilling the land) everyday.

 

  • Gardens were kind of a big deal in mythologies of other cultures worldwide. 

Check out this interesting video from Crash Course Mythology to see how pervasive they are (Crash Course’s other video are great, too, by the way):

 

  • Tending a garden is a great metaphor for creating order out of chaos.

We see this in the story of the Garden of Eden. Everything is pretty soupy and primordial, and then becomes more ordered as God creates.

 

  • Gardens are a great metaphor for spiritual growth and growing the Kingdom of God.

Jesus calls God a gardener and compares us and/or the Kingdom of God to plants/vines/weeds

 

  • Everyone can understand gardens as a symbol, because everyone has probably experienced a garden in some way. 

 

As it turns out, there are many possible explanations as to why gardens are mentioned so frequently in the Bible. Some of these explanations have a lot of research and backing, and some are speculative. The truth is, we just don’t know 100% why God reveals His word to us in garden form! 

Or maybe, just maybe, God likes to garden. 

I think that’s the explanation that I’m going with. I’m just sayin’!

 

Coming up:

Wednesday: Weedling vs. Seedling – How to Tell the Difference

Next Sunday: 2021 Goal Check-In

 

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