The down and dirty…


This is a story about love.


True, pure, and sincere.  Nothing rivals this for me.  It’s a gift.  All of it.  It doesn’t belong to me, but to Him.  It began years ago, digging in the rich red sand soil of Northern Oklahoma.  No children, hubby and I would come from work and toss work clothes aside for yard attire.  We’d work, but it never felt like work.  It felt like a release, a way to put the day behind us and to see the progress of seed packets, rainfall, good dirt, a sprinkling of hose water now and then.

FIrst it was chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, as we strived to create our wonderland.  And somewhere, along the way, we learned about organic gardening.  We threw ourselves into reading all we could.  The journey had begun.  We would find some summers a true battle, plucking tomato worms and tossing them to their death by drowning within water buckets we carried as we scoured the plants.  Squash bugs gave us quite a run for our money, too.  Once they hit one plant, I’d pull up the entire plant and discard it into the trash bin in hopes of keeping ahead of their onslaught.  I recall losing all my zucchini and crooked neck squash one year, only to be blessed with a massive amount of Peter Pan’s and Blue Hubbard’s squash.

We taught ourselves, over time, to develop our beloved compost pile.  We treasured it and treated it as a poster child for all things, wonderful.  I’ll never forget the early frosty morning I looked out the kitchen bay window and announced to hubby, “Look, is that steam coming off of the compost?”

We jumped from our seats and ran wildly into the garden.  I rather doubt we even thought about a major fire fight damaging our house and the rest of the neighborhood.  We had read about this!  We were witnessing smoke and fire with overwhelming joy.   A compost pile so active it was producing gases that would give promise to a wonderful free fertilizer and soil conditioner come Spring planting.  We also took to turning the pile, fully, each day, being sure to get the most out of our goodies, and to insure the pile didn’t ignite into a fully flaming inferno.


We live in North Texas these days.


We still compost, but we are not fortunate to have a free space sitting openly that can benefit from full sun for the better part of the day.  We’ve had to shift our strategies, but that has not hindered nor discouraged our ongoing obsession.  Have a look at a few of our options:

Old wood log storage, used for wood burning fireplaces.



Notice the green trash cans?  Those are used during the winter when there is an over abundance of waste from trees shedding leaves.  The bit of red you see leaning inside the frame?  My beloved pitch fork used to turn my pile.


Here’s my new invention.  I read about it last year.  Wish I could recall where, because I would love to compliment and give credit where credit is due:


I came across a group of men installing a new landscape bed.  They had a massive amount of these black plant pots they were just tossing into the back of their truck.  I asked if I could purchase a few.  They refused my offer and told me to help myself.

These particular ones are heavy-duty, have large drainage slits and work beautifully for composting ‘on-site’ and with the added bonus, acting two-fold.  Instead of using a drip system, or making the mistake of watering the whole plant, these allow me to water and feed, gradually.  Sincerely kids, I have not fed my chard, and tomorrow will be my third harvest!


Do you see the large leafed plant at the bottom of this photo?  That’s comfrey.  A plant that any serious organic gardener MUST locate and plant!  Be prepared to water this thirsty little girl a lot the first and second year, but once fully established it will send a rather large taproot to a moisture source.  Where ever you plant her/him, give it room to grow, to spread, to overtake.  And never look back in despair.  By cutting the leaves and the flowers and cramming them into a container that can be sealed, you are onto making one of natures most amazing fertilizers.  (I have three rescued cats and go through large buckets of litter.)  I will pack a container fully, snap on the lid and set it aside until I need to give an item a boost.  Eventually, this mass of leaves will turn into a stinky dark liquid that you can dilute and use at your convenience.


Look what the week ahead holds promise of…day lilies.  Multitudes!  I do have a concern, and I guess this is where I best express it so maybe others can learn from it.  I was gifted the native orange ‘ditch lily’ or as some call it, ‘tiger lily.’  I gleefully brought them home two years ago and placed them among my prized other day lilies, some of heirloom and prize-winning standards.  I will be ill if I discover cross-breeding has affected my special specimens.  If you hear a loud shout and wail coming from the south, you’ll know it’s that lady from Texas that has been wounded by her greed.


Josie’s Yucca


I’m growing this for a very special niece, well, actually, all of my nieces are special, but this one holds a place in my heart as if she were my third daughter.  As many of you may know, I don’t have grandchildren, but Josie is mom to two beautiful children that treat their ‘Auntie M’ as if she is as important as a grandmother.  What’s really nice, the other two grandma’s tolerate this and only add to the specialness.  Well…on to the story.  Josie’s hubby, my nephew, is a women’s collegiate basketball coach.  An amazing young man, dedicated to his family, his team and his faith.  At one point Josie and Aaron moved to Texas.  I had a small yucca sitting off in an area of the yard that I didn’t know what to do with.  Then along came the kids.  They were excited to get some transplants for their new home, it was in need of some outside fashion accessories.  I obliged.  Along with other items, Josie asked if she could have that Yucca.  Thank goodness, the orphan found a home!    What’s even more amazing, it bloomed for her, prolifically.  Warp into the future and another yucca sprouts.  This time I dug it up and named it, Josie’s plant.  That sucker is going wild!  Currently the family resides in the N.E. region of Arkansas.  I’d like to transport it to them, but at this point we need a truck.  And we’ll need a forklift if it spends another summer at ‘Auntie M’s.


This was today.











I should see an abundance of butterflies soon.  Each day I encounter more bee’s; different types, too.  This makes my heart sing.  We need our bee’s.  Their decline will bring our decline.  Plant just one plant that they can feed upon.  And don’t worry, they are not there to sting you.  Don’t swat at them, nor bother the area they are working.  Let’s give bee’s a chance.  Please, and thank-you.  :)

~ by coffeegrounded on May 17, 2014.

3 Responses to “The down and dirty…”

  1. Wonderful share about gardening–you are so fortunate to have the chance to co-create such wonders with nature’s aid! I am an apt. dweller but so appreciate efforts like yours. Regards to you and your beauties.


    • Cynthia, thanks so much for visiting. My garden is my sanctuary. There are a million new wonders to discover each time I enter the area(s). My yard is a constant work in progress. My neighbor recently mentioned, “Margie, I’ve never known anyone that moved plants around like you do.” And she’s right. I don’t really have a garden plan ‘set’ in my head. I enjoy working with color and shapes, but am forever learning that what might look great together this year, may very well be smothered out by it’s companion, next season. Not to worry…I dig and replant elsewhere and share with anyone willing to ‘invite’ a bit of my excesses into their yards. They do the same. :)


    • How lovely! Wonderful that you have a gift for growing things and making such beauty. Best regards!


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