Inevitable Compost

Some things are meant to be, whether we like it or not.  To me, composting is inevitable if you really enjoy gardening. I live with my mother in Chester Springs, PA and I have as much gardening  freedom as one can have in a new townhouse development where landscaping is restricted by an association.  Continue reading



This has been, and will probably continue to be, a very buggy growing season. With all of the recent rain relief in the Philadelphia area, I’m happy that I can stop being a slave to the garden hose for a few days.  But with all this new moisture, heat, and my naive decision to plant so many things in a small area, I still have to check for pests constantly. Continue reading


I just left a friend’s house in Phoenixville with a clementine box full of  mint plants (Mentha spicata, I think) which I dug up from his yard.  It’s amazing how veracious some mint grows, yet it’s so useful and lovely to smell that many people don’t give it the same disrespect as other such weedy plants.

Freshly dig mint

The first mint I dug up seriously seemed to be one 2-inch seedling but turned out to be an off-shoot of a 2-foot plant. I pulled up 3 of those bad boys and I know I’ll probably be in over my head in no time.  Normally I wouldn’t transplant like this because I could also be introducing foreign pests into the bed but I’m planning to plant it in a corner of my garden bed that’s full of big nasty dandelions and only a few bushes nearby that the landscape could do without if they do die.

I have a bit of jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) growing near there now, which I dug up at my local park and I’m hoping it, combined with the mint, will weed out the dandelions.

Jewelweed has medicinal uses and this mint is the best kind for teas, so if I’m going to have a weedy patch, it might as well be a useful one!

First crops of the year. Little yield but lots of flava.

I planted broccoli in containers back in early April.  The plants I started with were already so well-developed I thought I’d be seeing delicious stalks in no time.  But  the first buds didn’t emerge for almost three weeks.

I thought I’d get plenty of broccoli from each plant, especially if I kept trimming off the stalks.  But after my first harvesting I was disappointed to find that the second crop is not as robust.  But I’ll tell you, that first handful of fresh broccoli was awesome.  I steamed it with some shrimp and Ramen and was in noodle heaven.

Last week I asked around at my local farmer’s market to see if I could get more fresh organically grown broccoli to share with the family (since my first plant only yielded enough for one serving).  But I was told that it would either be available in the Fall when the weather cools again, or some of the farmers just said they don’t bother with it at all.  The plants take up a lot of space and don’t yield as much as lettuce or greens.

I did find one farmer who’s supposed to have broccoli tomorrow and I have one more plant yet to be harvested at home. Next up after broccoli, collard and nasturtium, with tomatoes and peppers well on their way!


~As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m working as a production assistant for a new PBS gardening and sustainability show called “Growing a Greener World.”  The first episodes can be viewed anytime at check it out and let me know what you think!

~In addition to the PBS show, I’ve also blogged weekly for Philadelphia Green, the community revitalization arm of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. View the first entry here and learn a little more about being a PHS certified Tree Tender!


Just a warning to readers this is a fairly long entry.  But if you love container plants, especially succulents, as much as I do you’ll want to read on and maybe learn from my pitiful karmic lesson:

At the end of the summer I went on a spider eradication campaign with my beloved succulent containers.  Everything that had been displayed proudly on the back deck had to be de-spidered…

Now before you go accusing me of being some sort of prissy irrational novice gardener, please take a moment to think about where I’m coming from.  I am all for using natural repellents on harmful pests.  And I understand that spiders are more helpful than harmful to the tiny habitat known as my back deck. 

But this summer I was an avid watcher of the Showtime program Nurse Jackie and in one of the last episodes of the season a patient came into the ER with what he thought was a cockroach in his ear. Continue reading

Slug Shots: Cell phone pics and gardening tricks

In late May I planted salvia, marigolds and a red flower that’s supposed to attract butterflies.  Red is supposed to be a color of abundance and it turned out that I got an abundance of slugs. As the leaves were slowly eaten up the brilliant red drained away and everything slowly fell apart.

I wanted to stop the slugs but I couldn’t bring myself to kill them the old fashioned way i.e. salt.  Sure I was the cruel kid who was fascinated by the physical reaction of spiders drenched in Windex and salty shriveled slugs on the hot driveway.  But I’m an adult now.  If I’m going to kill a living creature I want it to look as humane as possible.  So I stood out in the driveway next to my shriveled plants, with tin foil in one hand and full-bodied beer in the other.  I popped the cap, took a drink then folded the foil into a bowl shape and poured a third of the bottle inside.  I set my make-shift slug trap in the mulch by the flowers and actually watched one slug make a slow U-turn toward the beer once it got a whiff.

Apparently slugs like the yeast in beer. So they slowly slink into the trap and drown. The flowers bounced back wonderfully after the culprits were eliminated.  Through the Summer I shared a few more bottles with the garden slugs and every time I did, the plants came back to life. I’m sure their deaths were more painful than I want to admit, but I like to think they went out feeling high as a kite.  And I like having a good excuse for drinking while gardening.