I'm a guest columnist for our newspaper, I thought I'd share one of my columns on my blog.

One of the great pleasures in my life is gardening.  Of course it didn't start out that way in the beginning.  I grew up on a farm in Iowa.  When you're a kid on a farm there are chores to do.  We had horses, chickens and cows to feed before school, and again after school.  My dad planted the garden every spring with potatoes, lettuce, radishes, beans, sweet corn, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, strawberries, tomatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage, swiss chard and I don't want to remember the rest.  He was done with it until harvest time.   The kids pulled weeds, and pulled weeds, and then pulled more weeds when they finished pulling weeds.  And with a never-ending supply of ‘fertilizer’ from the barn, and kids to haul it, we had a huge bounty every year. It was totally unfair!  They planted a big garden just to make us work all summer long!  And it didn't help that I was the oldest either! 

Now I’m 52, and know I was lucky to grow up on a farm.   My husband and I moved from Iowa to North Carolina in 1994.  We love everything about NC! When we bought the house we’re living in now, I put my farming knowledge to work in our yard.  I rented a bobcat and tractor to renovate the yard.  My neighbors looked at me like I was an alien from outer space.  A woman on a bobcat?  Apparently I live on a street full of former city kids. 

Now that I’m citified, my children are growing up deprived. Alas, chickens aren’t allowed in my HOA.  Horses or cows?  Forget that idea!  I'm bound and determined they will learn to garden though.  My mom canned everything she didn't freeze, and I'm passing along that tradition as well.  I’d like to share my recipe for chow-chow.  It’s delicious on hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and you can mix it with mayonnaise to make tartar sauce for fish.

I became a Master Gardener through our county extension office 2 years ago.  It's been a wonderful experience and I highly recommend it!  There is a county extension office for every county in the nation.  The training is given by experts and you learn a wealth of information you can share with others.

Every kid under the age of 80 can have a garden.  If all you have is a balcony, as long as it gets 6 hours of sun every day, you can garden. Here’s another 
Click to view a recipe
 for Chow Chow
recipe to start your very first garden.  Purchase one 
18" or 22” wide plastic garden pot, enough garden soil to fill the pot, one wire tomato cage, and 1 green pepper plant.   Place the pot where it will get 6 or more hours of sun.  The wire cage will give your pepper plant support as the vines grow taller through the summer.  Water when the soil feels dry, in the summer you'll need to give it a full gallon of water every day it doesn't  get an inch of rain.  The leaves on your pepper plant will let you know when it’s too dry.  One pepper plant will give you enough green peppers to last all winter long.   If you’d like a few red peppers, just leave the green ones on longer and they’ll turn red for you. 

Here’s what to do with your bounty of green peppers.  After picking, wash the lady bug footprints off each one.  Dice the peppers into a bowl.  With a half-cup measuring cup, scoop the diced peppers into a freezer-safe baggie, half-cup to a bag and throw them in the freezer.  Just think how good it will feel this winter as you walk past the $2 organic green peppers at the store!  I’ve planted green peppers on my deck every year since I moved to North Carolina.  It’s February and I have about 10 packets of green peppers left in my freezer.  I hope you’ll try growing peppers this summer!  It’s easy! Call the County Extension Master Gardener office in your county, it's free!  If you have questions, we’re here to help!  Want to know if your green pepper needs fertilizer?  Give a us a call!  

This is my back yard... I put this rain garden in about 5 years ago.  It looks like a flower garden doesn't it?  It's actually a BMP (Best Management Practice).  A BMP helps your property mimic natural conditions by filtering storm water runoff to prevent sediment and nutrients from entering streams and lakes.  All the flowers and bushes planted here filter the water runoff from my yard so clean water reaches the creek in my back yard.  This is how pretty a BMP can look!

Summer 2014

Black petunia!  Very rare flower, found at a local nursery.

This is my rain garden 3 years later:

My son and I were doing yardwork.  Today's task is cutting up all the tree limbs I trimmed from a few trees so the city can haul them away Tuesday.  We found this on one of the branches I cut down.  Cool isn't it?

When it morphs, it will become...

We carefully placed it back into the tree!


  1. I grew up on a farm too! Thank you for the chuckle, and the memories. I grow cucumbers and peppers every year. There's nothing like a fresh cucumber, sliced and served with dinner. So good!

  2. That is gorgeous, and it has a function, what more can you ask for.