sundays in the garden

Sundays in the Garden – with SaveTheWorld Jones

Saving the world one step at a time.

Saving the world one step at a time.

Many of you have heard us mention our youngest daughter, but we never explained why we chose her nickname.

When she was little, she used to pretend our backyard was a continent filled with many countries. When disputes would break out between them, she would negotiate peace. Of course each country had its own language which she made up, and it helped that she could speak them all.

As she grew she always took the best road. She found out which companies had good trade practices, and would purchase from them and not from others. She would buy from the shoe company that gave another pair to the needy. She even planted a garden for the sole purpose of giving the food away.

Flash forward to her freshman year in college, when she is invited to present her work on Conflict Resolution Between Countries at a conference, rubbing elbows with people who at the very least are in a master’s program, many of whom have their doctorate. And it goes on from there.

I could sit here and brag about her GPA, or how many languages she speaks and how many majors she has, but I won’t.

Instead I would like to show you something she sent to family and friends as her birthday approaches:

“For those of you who would have bought me a drink on my 21st, I would *really* appreciate, in lieu of alcohol, a donation to help send young girls in India to get an education.

The Child Brides: Send Them to School instead

Thank you!”

Her concern for these young girls far outweighs any thought for herself. It truly is just that simple.

And that my friends, is how she got her name.


Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden



Sundays in the Garden – with Shawn Whitiak

corkit by bestacork

Shawn isn’t finished with college quite yet, but already he owns his own garden products business and has invented something we thought many of you might find interesting.

Along with his business partner Michelle Mendez, Shawn designed a way to make planters from cork. These lightweight pots are better than plastic because they allow air to get to the soil, and better than traditional clay since cork has natural antibacterial properties.

A local news station featured them, take a look at the video here on Besta Cork.
You can see just how the pots are made by hand, it is really neat.

The planters are also good for the cork trees, as removing their bark is akin to shearing sheep.

If you are looking for a unique gift, Corkit pots can also be purchased with a Sprout pencil. Plant the eraser end, and it degrades releasing seeds. How fun is that!

Note: No compensation was received for writing this post, we just thought we would share something pretty cool.

Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden


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Sundays in the Garden with – Annie Haven

Moo Poo Tea

Picture a beautiful sunny day on a California ranch, with horses pulling plows through the fields and cows grazing in the grassy meadows, and that’s the setting where you’ll find Annie Haven.

For generations her family grew plants for seed, and were one of the major suppliers in the U.S.
They used the manure from their ranch animals to nourish and replenish the soil. They ‘brewed’ the manure in large vats, in big sacks the size of pillowcases.

Now this wonderful, all natural, eco-friendly and amazing product is available to the small grower.

We first heard about ‘Moo Poo Tea’ on social media, and everyone was raving about the results they got from it.
So we ordered some to see for ourselves.

The plants did great, so this past summer we decided to do a side-by-side comparison.
Early in the season we brewed some tea and poured it onto one side of the parsnip bed. Mid-season, we did it again.

To be honest, we were shocked by the difference:

moo poo tea

Let me just say that Annie knew nothing about this trial, we ordered under our real names and didn’t say anything until we saw the results for ourselves.

We liked it so much that we put her ad on this site.
One of only two, yeah- we are that picky about ads.

But don’t just take our word for it, check out the pinterest link and also hear her interview with Mike the Gardener by using the links below.

Oh and by the way, it does wonders for houseplants too.
Perhaps ours will actually survive this year. :-P

A pic is worth a bunch of words.

Listen to Annie tell the full story.

Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden



Sundays in the Garden with – My Great Uncle



My parents grew up in the same small town, and both sides of the family were only a few blocks from each other.

My Great Uncle, one of only a handful of men to serve in both World Wars, was by trade a florist, as was his father.
He lived in the same house as my Dad’s parents, and every Sunday after church we would go over to visit them.

Early spring by the flower garden.

Early spring by the flower garden.

He was a wonderful man, soft spoken and funny, and as a gardener always happy to show what was in bloom. There was also a vegetable garden, and that was where I first saw a tomato growing.

Where the gardens used to be.

Where the gardens used to be.

He has been gone many years now, and yesterday we took on the task of cleaning out the basement where he used to can.

Still looking pretty good.

Still looking pretty good.

It was only a few years before he passed that he stopped putting food by. I remember him showing me once how he did it, I was fascinated.

My parents made jam, but you could can tomato sauce and sauerbraten? That was probably the moment I became hooked on growing food.

His stove, our stove.

His stove, our stove.

The stove he used is now coming, piece by piece, to our house.
It’s wonderful to have something that was such a part of his life in ours, that connection to another person and to the past.

Just part of the larder.

Just part of the larder.

As our work party did their thing, it made me sad.
When the basement is done, that’s it. No more Unc.

I thought to myself that what I would really like to find, other than just things, would be some kind of handwritten notes about his garden.

I kid you not, in the very next stack of seed catalogs I picked up, this was sticking out just enough for me to see:

Uncle's notes.

Unc’s notes.

My heart was touched and it made me smile, he was there. He was a part of what I was feeling.

Then I chuckled as it hit me- apparently, he never knew you could overwinter parsnips.

Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden



Sundays in the Garden – with Jennifer Branham Black

Artist Jennifer Branham Black

Meet Jennifer, a self-admitted non-gardener who sees the beauty in all things gardening related.

We heart chickens!

We heart chickens!

“I love to paint things from the garden; I want to preserve their beauty for posterity. A local farm provides most of my veggie and flower subject matter, mainly because I kill everything I try to grow; only the hardiest plants will survive in my world. Chickens, cows and bunnies are also favorite subjects.”



“Pickled” is the first in a series of paintings featuring the beautiful canning of Betty and Al Ulrich of NY state. Each of their jars is a work of art in itself.



“I have been drawing and painting since childhood.” says Jennifer, “and have a degree from Florida State University in creative art. Light, drama and color are my priorities in a painting. My home and studio is in Charleston SC overlooking the marshes of the Ashley River.”

See more of Jennifer’s wonderful work on her website: Low Country Studio or find her on Facebook.



All photos of original work by Jennifer Branham Black were used with her permission.

Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden



Sundays in the Garden with – Y’all

It was a few years ago on Facebook that some gardeners and I were talking about different problems in the garden. The conversation went from pests to frosts to not enough room to the difficulties that come with aging- namely how much harder getting down on the ground, and even worse, getting back up, becomes.

We talked about row covers and low tunnels, cloching and cold frames to add to the season and all kinds of barriers to keep out the deer and other critters.

Growing up.

Growing up.

A few of the gardeners in more urban settings commented that these things are all well and good if you have a large garden, or if you don’t live in a HOA. But what about the urban and suburban gardener, what’s out there for them?

As A Geek (and proud of it) I love to solve a problem, so set about designing a gardening system that could answer that need.

Really, I should probably just learn to knit.

Instead Mandolin and I went back and forth with the design, hammering (literally) out issues and finding alternative solutions.

What we got was far more effective than we even anticipated.
Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that we did not have even one tomato attacked by anything, grew carrots without fear of rabbit invasions, and even grew squash and melons vertically.
The only critter issues we had at all were in the old garden area.

Bite free tomatoes.

Bite free tomatoes.

We spent little time weeding with the new system and had tomatoes and green beans a good month before anyone else around here.
And we’ll keep getting tomatoes for weeks after the frost takes out all the other gardeners’ plants.
All of this in a relatively small amount of space.

So what does this have to do with y’all?
We need your 2 cents.

We were told we need a market survey if this is ever going to become an actual product, and well, we’re just regular working stiffs and really cannot afford to hire a professional.
So we are turning to the people that matter the most- you.

If you would take a minute to fill out the survey at the end of this post, we would greatly appreciate it!
Once you are done, please just leave a comment below to let us know.

July 6- tomato. Really really.

July 6- tomatoes. Really really.

We were given, between the two of us, three $25 gift cards valid in the US. We will let the online randomizer choose one person who fills out the survey and leaves a comment to win a gift card.

Because we want to get as much feedback as possible, we will also randomly choose another person who Tweets this link and mentions Gardening Jones in their tweet.

The third gift card will go to another wonderful individual who shares this link on Facebook, again mentioning Gardening Jones. That way we will get the message that you shared.

If any of the names chosen are outside the US, we have a few wonderful gardening books we will give instead.

Thanks y’all so much for your help, for stopping by the blog, and for being a part of our gardening lives!

Rest assured we will never share your name or email address with anyone else. Heck, we wouldn’t want anyone to do that to us either!
The contest part ends on Oct. 31st.
Here’s the short survey, please only hit Submit when you are finished:

Are you a vegetable gardener?

How would you describe the size of your garden?

What type of area do you live in?

Have you had a problem with any large pests, including deer, rabbits, groundhogs, neighborhood cats, squirrels? Please choose all that apply, and feel free to add others in.

Have you had an issue with bad bugs such as aphids, squash beetles, Colorado potato beetles, tomato horn worms and the like? Please choose all that apply and feel free to add more in.

How much money would you estimate you spend on pesticides, whether organic or not, each growing season? Please type in your response here -->
How much do you think you have spent on large critter deterrents, including fencing and repellents? Please type in your response here -->
What is/are the main reason(s) you garden? Please check all that apply and add in your own reason(s) if you want to.

As a gardener, how would you describe your enthusiasm?

Have you ever used an Earthbox? If yes, do you still? If no, why not?

If you are not a gardener, why not?

For everyone: If you could purchase a gardening system that took up only a 4 ft. by 4 ft., space, was 5 ft. tall, and could: a. protect your produce from most pests b. extend your season in cool areas c. practically eliminate the need to weed d. help prevent damage from high winds, hail, and even excess rain e. double your harvest f. help you grow vertically Would you be interested? Note that the system would be non-intrusive visually and could be put on any level surface including a parking lot or driveway.

If this system were to cost $299-$399, and would last practically forever, would you consider it? Keep in mind it would pay for itself many times over.

Last but not least, how did you hear about Gardening Jones? Please check all that apply and add your own if we missed an option.

Thank you for completing this survey. Your input means a great deal to us! There are a few bugs with this survey thing, so to play it safe, please enter your email address, in case you win! Please put it here -->

Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden



Sundays in the Garden – with Sprout

“There is a place in your heart you didn’t know existed, until you become a grandparent.”

The real moment y heart was stolen.

The real moment my heart was stolen.

A few of my friends who have had this wonderful experience shared sentiments like this with us when we found out our daughter and son-in-law were expecting.

After just 9 fast months his grip on our hearts has only become stronger, and we look forward to every moment, every smile, with him.
In fact, we hope this to be the first post of a series of many moments in the garden with Sprout.
Moments we were not sure would ever happen.

You see, our daughter has a non-uncommon condition known as PCOS. Without going into great detail, suffice it to say that it makes it difficult, if not impossible to become pregnant.

She tried the ‘Octo-Mom drug’ as she humorously referred to it, but it was a no-go.
Things were not looking too good.
“Try losing weight” I suggested, knowing full well that this condition also makes that a very difficult thing to do.

She worked hard and did lose a lot of weight, but still it was not helping.
Then almost out of nowhere, she got the news.

Getting bigger.

Getting bigger.

“I’ve got a creature!” she announced; she’s too funny.
I was driving at the time, and could not wait until the next exit so I could pull over and take in the moment.

There were more pregnancy issues, finally ending in bed rest the last few months.
The labor was nasty too, but that doesn’t matter anymore.
Out the beautiful boy finally came, albeit late, and weighing in at over 9 lbs.
“He’s huge!” the Doctor commented.

“He’s gorgeous!” was what I saw.

Today in the garden.

Today in the garden.

He is currently entered into a contest where he could win a photo shoot by the same photographer than was at their wedding. How appropriate.
At the moment he is in the lead, but that could change at any moment. There are only 9 days left, so if you would like to lend your support, you need only click this link, scroll down just a bit then click ‘vote’.
You do not need to register, ‘Like’ or do anything else.

Smartphones, ipads, ipods, nooks, crannies and other such devices can vote multiple times. Thanks for your help!

In the meantime we are looking forward to next spring, when Sprout will be 1 1/2, and old enough to do some real gardening.

We are also hoping for the best, you see- they are going to try for miracle #2.

Categories: grandkids and kids, sundays in the garden



Sundays in the Garden – with Beth Trissel

Happy cows.

Happy cows.

Hi y’all. I recently heard this story and loved it, I think you will too:

Thanks for having me on your blog Gardening Jones to share the big news in my life. For 35+ years, my husband Dennis and I have taken an increasing role in the dairy farm he grew up on in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, one his father purchased from his grandfather who bought it in the early part of the 20th century.

In the 1990’s, we bought the farm from Dennis’s father and have been running it along with our oldest son, Cory, and one hired hand. Eleven years ago, Cory married his wife, Charity, who is quite active on the farm. They have three children, Ian (9 yrs), Emma (6 yrs), and Owen (4 yrs).

All the children love country life. Cory and Charity live up the road from the home farm on a second farm that’s been in the family for several decades. The two farms are tied together as Cory and Charity’s place is where the bulk of the cropland lies, while the dairy and milk cows are here. Our grandchildren make five generations on the farm and are eager to carry on, as are we for them to have that opportunity.

Granddaughter Chloe.

Granddaughter Chloe.

Small family farms are in danger of going under and many have been gobbled up by development or succumbed to the large factory farms that no one wants to see encompass agriculture, but sadly, often does. We needed to find a way to preserve our land and our unique lifestyle, not only for now, but for generations to come.

Last June (2012) a neighboring farmer called Dennis to explore an idea for starting a creamery to process our own natural, locally produced dairy products. From that initial discussion and first small meeting, our excitement grew and spread to other farmers. But we couldn’t have reached the point where we are now without the generous guidance of local businessmen, lawyers, an accountant, and the realtor who helped us purchase a dairy processing plant, and others who share our enthusiasm to take control of our dairy products and market them to a public appreciative of knowing where their milk comes from. With the assistance of these experts and umpteen planning sessions, we banded together with 20 other farmers in the valley to form Shenandoah Family Farms Cooperative, farmer owned and farmer operated.

The family.

The family.

Our milk will remain within a 250 mile radius of the creamery we purchased in Hagerstown, MD, about a two hour drive from the Shenandoah Valley, however, that encompasses a much broader area than you might think. If we are successful enough, our ice cream could go National, as it’s a frozen product. We will produce fluid milk and ice cream first and add more dairy products as we go. Many of the families in our cooperative are conservative or Old Order Mennonites, hardworking people who value their land, way of life, and animals. We want to pass this heritage onto our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Our youngest daughter Elise, an art major graduate, takes many of the photographs for this venture. I’ve included some of our farm. Our older daughter, Alison Trost, is married and lives up the road with her husband, Diron, and their two children, Colin (6 yrs) and Chloe (3 yrs), who love to visit the farm. I’m also an author and a gardener, although allergies make that challenging during ragweed season—thus more indoor writing time. – Beth

Beth and Dennis.

Beth and Dennis.

I just love the idea of everyday people and small farms getting together to provide healthy food for us, rather than big-time agriculture that seems to only care about money and not quality.
If you feel the same way, take a minute to give them a Like on Facebook and leave a comment.

You can also visit their website and sign the friendly “Product Request Petition”. And please tell your friends and relations. Help spread the word and take back control of our food sources.

Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden



Sundays in the Garden – with Frank “Little Bear” Burke

frank little bear burke

Meet Frank “Little Bear” Burke.
Frank is not a gardener, he does in fact make a living sharing his American Indian heritage with others through movement, sound, and authentic dress.

That is, until recently.
You see, Frank’s car was slammed into by another, sending him to the hospital with serious injuries. Fortunately his three children were not badly hurt.

But the damage to Frank was so severe he had to cancel at least a year’s worth of performances. To make it worse, his wife had to take an unpaid leave of absence to care for him and help him to appointments and therapy.

In one crashing moment, they lost all their income.

So why am I telling you this?
Well, I was in the garden the other day tending to my ‘Three Sisters’ bed of corn, beans, and squash. The story of how the indigenous people of this country helped the first settlers learn to grow food came to mind.
Perhaps in a way I am paying that forward,‘ I thought.
And then it hit me.

For about 3 1/2 years I have been posting information here with the intention of helping as many people as possible learn to grow their own food.
This is at my own expense, and that’s okay.

If you have learned anything, if I have helped you in any way, please take a moment this week to pay it forward.
I’m asking you to put whatever you think appropriate in an envelope and mail it to Frank’s family.
Even if it’s just ‘couch change’.

Here’s the address:
The Burke Family
attn: Frank “Little Bear”
PO Box 909
Greentown, Pa. 18426

Please don’t ignore this thinking someone else will do it.

Now I won’t know who helps and who doesn’t, I don’t want to know. I will find out from my friend at the post office if it’s just a few or a bunch.

Thanks in advance, and garden on!

Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden


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Sundays in the Garden -with Jayne Locas

The beauty of social networking is that it gives you the opportunity to e-meet people you might never have run into.
Take Jayne Locas, who grew up not far from us- but now lives on the other side of the country.
She’s such a wonderful gardening enthusiast, that we thought you would enjoy getting to know her.

pphoto by Jayne Locas

well just bless my bloomers!

How did gardening get your interest?

I have never “not been a gardener”. Our whole family gardens in some way, we joke that “we have dirt on our jeans because we have gardening in our genes.” Some of my earliest memories are related to gardening. My father had a huge garden that fed our large family, our extended family and neighbors. Since my father was born before the turn of the 20th century, he grew up in a culture where you raised or hunted what you ate. He passed those skills on to his children and we have in turn passed the love on to ours. My father grew the fruits and vegetables and my mother canned them. Flower gardening was mostly her department as well, but she did not have much time left over to grow a lot of flowers. We always had daffodils, tulips, nasturtiums, daisies and flowering shrubs. After they retired, my father had only a small vegetable garden but really spent a lot of time with flowers. Growing things has always been a way of life for me. It is not something that I think about or make preparations to do; it is just something that happens.

Are you primarily an edible or an ornamental gardener?
Where I am living now I have only a very small sunny area so I grow mostly flowers. Last year I squeezed in a few veggies here and there but with such limited space it is easier to buy from the nearby farmers market. I do grow a lot of herbs and plants with scented foliage that can be used as edibles. I love to experiment with plants and see how well they will grow and where. Last summer I grew a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes in a rain gutter. Previous to living at this house I was in the country with a gigantic vegetable garden and many lush flower beds. Twenty years ago I was growing heirloom tomatoes when hardly anyone knew what they were. Having grown up gardening I was familiar with a lot of the different varieties. My guests were always amazed to find that they were eating salsa made with white tomatoes and that the green tomatoes I offered for their burgers were ripe!

What is the most interesting thing you have grown?
I think probably one of the most interesting things I have grown was when my kids were small and we grew luffa sponges. I also do a lot of garbage gardening. Avocados from pits and pineapples from the top of a ripe pineapple are always a lot of fun.

photo by Jayne Locas

morning glories

What do you think is the hardest to grow?
I don’t think of anything as hard to grow. But I do have trouble with orchids, I don’t always give them what they want and need. But for gardening in general, I evaluate before I start to grow something to see if I have all that the plant needs. I think I lot of people have trouble gardening because they might ignore some basic rules before they start, like the amount of sun, their zone, and time to plant; but the biggest reason many gardeners do not succeed is because they don’t spend 90% of their effort on improving the soil before they spend 10% planting in it.

What do you think is the easiest to grow?
Anything that I can cut off a piece of and stick in the soil and get a new plant!

bless my bloomers

bees and blooms at Bless My Bloomers

What are you most passionate about in your garden?
I am passionate about keeping whatever I am growing as healthy and happy as possible. I even cultivate weeds and they look beautiful, and no one recognizes then as weeds. A growing plant is a miracle and I want to treat it as such.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start a garden?
First of all believe in yourself and don’t fall for that brown thumb stuff. We are all capable of growing something. Don’t set your sites too high. Start small, crawl before you run. Gardening is a learning experience. For your first attempt don’t plant too big a plot. If you have never grown anything from seed, try buying your plants until you have the growing part understood, then learn to sow your own seeds. Don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting more than you can possibly know how to do. You can grow a green thumb!

bless my bloomers

pretty purple pepper

More about Jayne:
She lives in Paradise California at just under 2,000 feet, in the foothills about 90 miles NE of Sacramento. She’s a member of the Paradise Garden Club and creator of Daffodils Across the Ridge- to date they have planted more than 120,000 daffodils in the community. She was 2012 Elks “woman of the Year” for the daffodil project.
For ten years she a wrote gardening column called “Gardening by Trowel and Error”and most recently was the “Wake UP and Go Green Gardener” for Channels KHSL12 and KNVN24.
She still writes and speaks about gardening across northern California. Her real passion is photography.
You can find her beautiful photos here.
Follow her on the Facebook page Bless My Bloomers.
Thanks Jayne!

Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden


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