My Paw Paws Are Both Blooming!

It has been a year and a half since I’ve blogged. Not much to say really. Life goes on, pretty much the same, day by day. We lost some chickens, got some new ones.  Same with plants, never planted the Gogi berries, the asparagus is struggling along and the new raspberry patch is awesome.

One thing this spring is really exciting, at least to me.

Exciting enough to bring me out of blog hybernation and share!



The flowers appear even before the leaves which is why the tree looks scraggly. Later it will have beautifal foliage.

If you have read my past blogs you know of my fascination with these trees, native to North America and difficult to grow and pollinate. Many, including me, have never tasted its rich, custardy, tropical tasting fruit.

Here is the link to my original post on Paw Paws:


There Is A Goji Berry Plant In My Future!

I recently read an article that listed 10 Superfoods and one of them was Gogi berries.

They are full of vitamins and antioxidants.

I have never tasted a Gogi berry but from what I have read,  they are tart-sweet like a cross between a sour cherry and a cranberry.



They can be eaten fresh or dried.


 I LOVE to add dried cranberries or sometimes cherries to oatmeal, quick breads and the trail mix I love to snack on, so Gogi berries would be a great addition to our garden.  If I got enough I bet I could even make jam!


It seems to me I have seen Gogi plants offered from some of the online garden stores I have visited.  Native to China they grow well in my zone and are said to love my high pH soil.



 They can be grown in containers,


as shrubs,


or trained to grow on an arbor or trellis.


Isn’t this an awesome garden?

I think there will be a Gogi plant in my near future.

 I have just the place, over the arbor at the entrance to our asparagus bed.

You can read more about Gogi berries here:

Have you ever tasted a Gogi berry?  Would you consider putting one in your harden?

 I would love your comments.

Peace Poles!  Have You Seen Them?


Do you know what they are?

A house on my block has a Peace Pole. I admire it every time I pass by. I did some research and found that a traditional Peace Pole has the words ‘May Peace Prevail On Earth’ in 4 different languages, one of the home country. There are variations though and some are beautiful yard art with other uplifting, cheerful messages. Placing your Peace Pole in the ground can be done with some ritual.

It is estimated that there are over 200,000 peace poles in existence and they are placed in every almost every country. There is a peace pole at the Magnetic North Pole and one at the pyramid in Gaza.


Sometimes Peace Poles are placed in response to some hateful act such as the largest Peace Pole in the world which was placed in Janesville, WI in response to a KKK rally held there.


A peace pole would make a great school project.



You can read more about Peace Poles at these links:

When we had to remove some fencing at our property we were left with several 4 x 4’s.  I decided to make a Peace Pole.

It was a lot of fun and a great creative outlet.

I scrubbed and sanded the 4×4 since it had been outside for many years. I used paint I had on hand plus picked up some paint pens at the craft store, for the lettering.  I put a couple coats of poly on for weatherproofing.

Here it is:


In the Hawaiian language.


In Lakota.



This side is in Sanskrit. The artist Prince died while I was working on it so I incorporated his symbol.



The English language side.


I planted it in the old chicken run/soon to be shade garden and topped it with a solar light.

If you would like to make one you can use a fence post in either wood or PVC.

You will find instructions, including translations here:


One of my fave people with a Peace Pole he was presented with in 1980.

You can read  here about where his Peace Pole is now:


Are you inspired to make or purchase a Peace Pole?  It would be great to work on during the winter and have ready to put out next spring. I would love to hear about and see pictures of your Peace Pole projects.

By the way, Peace on Earth and Happy Holidays – whatever you choose to celebrate!

What I Learned From My Garden This Year:

It was a pretty good year in the garden despite the fact that we went on a couple of trips during the growing season. I as usual, learned from my gardening experience and here are some of the things I will do differently next year:

  • Stick to the basics.  This year I planted Japanese Pickling Melons, Okra and Sesame.  I am embarrassed to say that I never even harvested the sesame seeds (who has time to open all those little pods and toast the seeds?)  I let the most of the Okra get too big and tough to eat, and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the melon. Next year I will sample unusual items at restaurants or markets and leave garden space to what I know.
  • Grow what we eat.  We love green beans and could almost eat them every day. They freeze well too. We also love peppers and tomatoes.  On the other hand, I am the only one in the house that eats eggplant or squash. Next year I will concentrate on planting green beans, peppers, and tomatoes and treat myself to eggplant, squash and such from the Farmers’ market when the mood strikes.
  • Don’t waste space on cheap stuff. We love cabbage but it takes up lots of space in the garden and the bugs love it too. It is super cheap to buy so why not use the garden space for sweet bell peppers that I can let ripen to red and not have to pay a premium price for them at the store?!
  • More flowers!  I love flowers and would love to be able to snip weekly bouquets for inside. Next year I plan to surround my veggie garden with flowers. They will be inside the bunny proof fence, beautiful to look at and plentiful enough to get lots of bouquets for ourselves, family and friends. The bees will love them too!
  • Grow herbs closer to the house. It just makes sense to not have to go far to snip herbs when cooking. I may grow my herbs in pots on the deck next year.

I spent much of our lovely November doing a bit of yard clean up, bringing in yard art and house plants, and pretty much enjoying the last nice days of fall. Since we were finished harvesting I left the garden gate open so the girls could free range in there. They were pretty happy to get to scratch around and sample yummies in what was previously ‘off limits’ territory.

I am throwing kitchen scraps as well as raked leaves directly in the garden to decompose.

I decided to use ‘free mulch’ from Mother Nature – aka fallen leaves around trees and shrubs and in the flower beds.  I was hoping for a bit of rain to weigh them down so they wouldn’t blow away and I got it.


 Now the work is done and the days are cold and short. I keep warm and happy planning next year’s garden!

What did you do to put your garden to ‘sleep’ and what are you planning for next year?

Dang it all!

My post on peace poles was not ready. It posted by accident. Disregard it! Sorry. 

 What Has Been Going On In My World?!

It has been over 100 days since my last post! There are many reasons for not posting.  One was I just didn’t have much to say other than the same-o same-o!  How many times can I talk about chickens doing what chickens do?  How many chicken pics can I post?  It just seemed so boring – not that I’m complaining.  The summer days falling into a familiar routine with no big shake ups is a good thing.  It just doesn’t make for interesting writing.

Plus I was sorta busy.

Here is an update on some of the goings-on. 

We added to our family!


New grandson Max, born on July 3rd. 

The bunny proof fence got built, the vegetable garden thrived and the bunnies got revenge by eating most of my flowers instead. 


  Next year flowers go in with the vegetables!

The perennials I transplanted to make room for the asparagus bed did ok but really need another year to get established.  I put coffee cans around my new milkweed and other plants in the flower beds to keep the bunnies from decimating them. Clever gal, aren’t I?



The asparagus bed is doing well with the beautiful fern like leaves looking so pretty and healthy. 


(Please excuse the weeds)

 I could have saved myself a ton of work though – I have discovered the ultimate easy and BEST way to put in an asparagus bed.  Forget digging trenches and planting crowns.  Less than a third of them even came up after all our effort.  My local garden center had potted up asparagus plants and I just popped them in the bare spots.  How super easy. I wish I had just used them from the start.

If you are going to put in an asparagus bed I suggest buying potted asparagus plants, digging a larger than needed hole, amending the soil with bone meal, and compost, and plunking in your plants. Pricier at first but not really because you save a ton of back breaking labor and unlike the crowns the potted plants are a sure thing.  Take my word!

Milkweed popped up all through the asparagus bed since that is where it had originally been planted (remember  I moved the butterfly garden to make way for the asparagus).  I didn’t have the heart to yank it since the new butterfly garden is not yet well established.  Next year I will tidy it all up.


The doggie poop area is working out well. Weeds popped through on the perimeter so next year I will put in some groundcover plants to block the weeds and give it a nice ‘rock garden’ look. It doesn’t smell unless we don’t pick up the poops for many days. (That only happened when we were away).


One noteworthy thing to add:

I did what for a gardener is unthinkable.


No gardener in their right mind goes away during harvest time but I had an oh-so-good reason.

It was to watch this gal compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics!


My granddaughter Haley competed in Womens’ Freestyle Wrestling.  It was a once in a lifetime experience  and I will devote my next post to telling all about the trip.


Things were not too bad garden wise when we got back and I am slowly but surely harvesting, weeding and putting things right.


What has been going on in your world?


Some Planet Saving Ideas


This sign hangs over my sink.



Let’s all try to reduce out carbon footprint!

Your carbon footprint is the amount of fossil fuel you use, and therefore the amount of greenhouse gases you create.  Not just directly, but indirectly such as when we buy items that were shipped long distances to reach us, or create waste, both which use fuel and create pollution.

Here is a link to a calculator that can tell you what your carbon footprint is:

If we all try to reduce our carbon footprints it will make a difference and we will be responsible stewards of our earth.  I don’t know about you but that makes me feel really good about myself.

I try to create a lifestyle in which taking care of the planet is second nature to me.  I hope I set a good example for the next generation as well.  While some of us would never consider littering and will always turn off lights when leaving a room, there are other ways to save energy.

Buying food from local sources or better yet, growing your own food helps to reduce your carbon footprint because you are not using products that were shipped from long distances using fuel and causing pollution.


Walking or biking to work or for shopping and errands helps save fuel and pollution from you car.  If you are in the market for a new car consider a hybrid.

Planting shade trees and wind breaks of evergreens around your property will help keep it cool in summer or warmer in winter so you will use less energy.  A simple thing like installing a screen door so you can catch breezes and go longer before needing to turn on your AC can help.


Many things can be reused or refashioned into useful things to save on the waste we produce.  Plastic grocery bags can be cut into strips and crocheted into tote bags, rugs and sleeping pads.


I made this!



bag mats

A local church makes these sleeping pads for homeless people.

Your sacks from chicken feed can be turned into cute tote bags.


feed bags

I recently saw a gadget that turns plastic bottles into plastic ‘rope’.


  If you buy Parmesan cheese in the cans with shaker tops you can fill the empty cans with baking soda and add  several drops of your favorite essential oil.  Sprinkle on your carpet before bed and let sit overnight.  Vacuum in the morning for a freshened carpet.  Did you know those green lids screw onto a mason jar?  Great for storing dried herbs from the garden or rice and other staples.


Better yet try to choose products that have the least packaging in the first place. Buy that parm as a big chunk and grate it yourself!  Buy one large container of ice cream, applesauce, yogurt or whatever and portion it out into your reusable containers rather than buying small individually packaged containers.  Make juice and ice tea in a pitcher (remember those?) instead of buying individually bottled drinks for you and your family. Buy coffee, tea, spices and grains in bulk.

And Puh-leeze never buy bottled water!

(Let me repeat that)

Puh-leeze never buy bottled water!

We recently switched to utility company that uses wind energy for our home. I have not noticed any difference in our bill yet but if they produce more wind energy than is used they sell it to the regular utility company and we get a reduced bill!  It is a great option since I can’t put up my own wind turbine or solar panels.  At least I know my home is powered by clean energy.  Check if they have this option where you live.

In Iowa the company is Alegient Energy.

Some other things that can help:

Read books instead of electronic devices or watching TV – I bet the library is in walking distance for some of you.

Let your hair dry naturally.

Shower less (it’s better for your skin).

Cook several things at once if using your oven.

Use a reusable sponge or dishtowel instead of paper towels.

Bring your lunch to work in reusable containers (and don’t forget reusable silverware).

Don’t use power lawn tools and get a better workout!

Share books and magazines with neighbors or coworkers.

Buy in bulk.

Try to have one day a week where you don’t use any prepackaged anything.  Once you can handle that try to go longer.

Compost anything you can.

Recycle anything recyclable – no excuses! (I can’t believe some people still don’t recycle at all).

Dry clothes on a clothesline.

Make your own non-polluting laundry soap and cleaning supplies – it’s easy!

Buy from thrift stores. salvage stores and the ReStore – great places!

If you are shopping for a new home, consider a smaller one.

Plant a tree. Plant anything except a lawn.

You have probably heard some or even all of these suggestions but are you implementing them?  The time is NOW and it starts with you.  Hopefully your example will inspire others.  Don’t put it off, we have a planet to save!


Another sign in my kitchen!

Do you have any more ideas for reducing your carbon footprint?

What’s Been Going On?

A lot has been going on!  This time of year there is so much to do.  Most gardeners probably feel the same way.  Future projects stretch on into infinity – but that is  GOOD thing.

First bit of news is we are in round 3 of the Bunny Wars.  We are now building a permanent – what I hope is indestructible – bunny proof fence around the veggie garden.  The reason for this is because the bunnies discovered they could chew through the plastic netting we had up.  We patched the ‘chew holes’ almost daily with zip ties but it only takes one bunny one night to decimate a row of just starting snap peas.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!  If you calculate the cost of ALL the measures we have taken to get this garden up and running and now bunny proofing, the cost of my home grown produce is astronomical.  (But who’s counting?  Plus it’s so worth it!)

We are going for something similar to this:


Second bit of news is WE HAVE ASPARAGUS in the ‘New and Improved Asparagus bed’!


I have counted 5 little sprouts so far which to me is pretty exciting!

The new butterfly garden is fantastic with the iris just about finished blooming, the daisies, wisteria, clematis and peonies about to bloom.


  I am not sure the yarrow is going to bloom this year after being divided and transplanted. It should have buds by now but doesn’t. The Swamp milkweed survived transplanting and I ordered and planted 2 more varieties.  Yes, I HAVE been busy. I planted morning glories to cover the old coop and sunflowers along the fence.  Our canna bulbs went in this week too.

The doggie poop area I wrote about is going GREAT and we landscaped around it with Ninebark shrubs and roses.


  It looks great.

We need to fill in landscaped areas with mulch but I want to wait until the messy cottonwood tree behind our property is finished dumping it’s white fluff.  Have you ever dealt with that?  Pretty but YUCK!  Once everything is all cleaned up I will post pics.

In the veggie garden lettuce, peas, onions and radishes are up.  Beans are in the ground and tomaotes have been transplanted but we broke 2 of the plants while traipsing around working on the fence.   😦  I might wait to put in the pepper, cabbage, okra and brussel sprout transplants until we are finished working on the fence to avoid more mishaps.

The chickens are laying like crazy, seem happy with the warm weather and love that I toss them buckets of weeds every day.  I have an idea to use the old bunny fence and secure an area in the wooded/weeded lot behind our yard to let them free range a bit.  No one will know/no one will care and the gals will LOVE it!

((((((( Shhhhhhhhh – don’t tell! ))))))))

I haven’t started on my spring sprucing up of the coop yet but will soon.  Fence building has got me a bit behind schedule.  Look for pics of the spruced up coop and new free range area in a future post.

What has been going on in your neck of the woods?

New and Improved Asparagus Bed!

After doing more reading I realized the six asparagus crowns I planted would be not much more than an appetizer for our asparagus loving family.  I seriously needed to plant MORE!

But where?

As most good ideas do it came to me in the middle of the night.  (Everyone wakes up at 4 am with gardening on their mind, right?)


Anyway it came to me.


Well not IN the butterfly garden.  I could MOVE the butterfly garden.  I could move it to the back of the garden flower bed.  The one I call my ‘formal’ flower bed.

Formal – poo – I want asparagus!

So I went to work moving the plants in my butterfly garden.  Most were big enough to divide so I did that too.  I tried to place them where I thought the color combinations and heights would look best but to tell you the truth in some cases I did not even know what some of them were because some of my garden markers blew over.   (OK, they didn’t so much blow over as got ‘picked’ by a certain little pint sized garden helper).


It is going to be AWESOME!


I am super excited though because the bed is a lot more densely planted which means fewer weeds and it will be a RIOT of flowers

I am also super excited about the NEW AND IMPROVED ASPARAGUS BED.

 We  prepared the trench, added sand for drainage, compost for nutrients, and bone meal for root growth.


We put in 35 asparagus crowns.  That should keep us in plenty of asparagus for the rest of our lives!  ❤


If you have an unused part of lawn, like maybe over by your fence, and you buy asparagus to eat each spring, you should probably put in an asparagus bed!

Go on, DO IT!

A few other spring updates:

Peas, lettuce, onions, radishes and carrots are up in the garden.My indoor seedlings of tomatoes, peppers, okra, cabbage and marigolds are getting big.


I can’t wait to get these outside!

The honeysuckle vine more than doubled in size before I finally got it planted outside and it is doing well.  All fruit trees including the new and old Paw Paws have leaves.


Leaves on the new PawPaw.

 Best of all – the Wisteria LIVES!


I ❤ Wisteria!

It’s not gardening but I have to brag – this week my granddaughter Haley qualified for the Olympics in Womens’ Freestyle Wrestling!  She is Rio bound!


 How are things in your spring garden?

Spring 2016

A lot is going on which is usual for springtime.

I sure can’t go-go-go like I used to.  I wonder, is it the added years or the added pounds?  Probably both!  I  can’t do anything about the years.  I can, however, try to do something about the pounds.  I am starting the ‘Real Foods’ way of eating as outlined in the book, It Starts With Food’.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Ok, enough of that and back to garden talk.

Stark Bros nursery sent the replacement Apricot and Pawpaw trees and I got those planted in my ‘mini-orchard’ area.  The Apricot we got last year is blooming right now and has been visited by lots of pollinators.  I have seen Painted Lady butterflies and small bees.  Honeybees?


If I would have taken this pic a few days ago it would have been awesome.  Our past couple of windy days have blown apart the blossoms.


I ordered, received and planted a tiny Black Lace Elderberry shrub and put that behind the house  It is about 10 inches high right now!


Don’t worry Carter, it will grow and so will you!


I planted lettuce, carrot, radish, and pea seeds in the garden weeks ago and the lettuce and peas are already poking up.  The perennials in the flowerbeds are up but no sign of my poppies yet or my bunny damaged Wisteria – my big splurge plant of last year.  Sigh.

My potted blueberries look dead – also thanks to the bunnies who nibbled them down to the dirt.

 I moved my two hydrangeas to a spot where I hope they will do better.  They never did well in the flowerbed I first planted them in.

  I also divided my large Autumn Joy Sedum and some tall Day Lilies and replanted in the flower beds. Last year I took notes of what plants I wanted to divide and move this year.

The MOST exciting thing I did was PLANT AN ASPARAGUS BED!

I have only been talking about doing it for years.  We planted one when we lived in Janesville, WI but sold the house and moved before we could harvest it.  (I hope the two sweet ladies who bought our house are enjoying it).

Asparagus takes three years until you can harvest it so you don’t want to procrastinate about planting it for too long or you may never get any!  My main stumbling block was deciding where to put it.  It needs a sunny spot.

  I couldn’t put it too close to the baby trees because one day that area wlll be shady.

I didn’t want it in the veggie garden because the tall asparagus ferns would shade my garden.

Out front would be suitable (and I am always going on about how great front yard gardens are) but I had visions of night-time asparagus-loving marauders taking my harvest while I slept.

My indecisiveness was keeping me from ever ordering any!

  Then last week I was early for meeting friends for lunch so I decided to check out a nice garden center in the area.  Right by the door as I walked in was a large bin of asparagus crowns.  Impuslively I grabbed six and brought them home.


Asparagus probably should not be planted impulsively since the beds need some preparation. Since I went and bought the crowns though, I HAD TO COMMIT!

I decided on a spot. I dug a bed on either side of one of the arbors we placed on each end of the veggie garden.  I amended the soil with compost for nutrients and sand for drainage.


I did it!  I made the commitment!

I can almost taste it – Yum!


 To get your bed established you let it grow undisturbed the first year, harvest just a sample the second year and then by the third year you are good to go – and it keeps on coming back!  If you have a sunny spot that wont be disturbed, I recommend you start an asparagus bed.

 How fantastic to harvest the yummy goodness early in spring when the rest of the garden is doing NOTHING.


Then the rest of the summer you have the lovely asparagus ferns which are attractive.


Here is a link that explains how to plant an asparagus bed.

After reading up I realize I need at least 18 more crowns to keep us supplied with enough!  I had better get to more digging.  I am toying with the idea of one or more raised beds for additional crowns.

Happy gardening!

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