Saturday, August 27, 2016


I feel as bent as this wind-blown pine.
Have you ever been running and tripped, but your feet keep on moving for several steps before you finally fall flat on your face? That's how I feel right now, metaphorically. It's been a hectic summer full of reading, research, writing, planning, and righting the greenhouse twice. Yes, twice.

Using a pipe frame we've had for years, I set up a small greenhouse on the extra pad in front of my garage. I covered it with shade-cloth tarps (from Harbor Freight), then constructed a micro-spray system attached to a timer. Perfect set-up, but soon discovered my folly.

The wind was strong enough to bend a t-post.
A thunderstorm flipped it upside down into the yard.

We had thought that the 5 gallon sand buckets we use to stabilize our vendor tent would be enough. We were wrong. They were dangling from the upended "legs"of the greenhouse. We flipped it over and put it back into place, this time wiring the west side (most of our weather comes from the west) to two 7' t-posts. We felt safe and secure.

And then came Hurricane Elvis II.

"Hurricane Elvis" is how Memphians refer to a storm that happened about 13 years ago. Smack-dab in the middle of "Tornado Alley," straight-line winds rather than a tornado swept away fences and stately trees, disrupting services for days in some areas. I no longer live in Memphis, but, as I stared out the back window, the memories were as fresh as the wind before a storm. Only the ribs of the tractor umbrella remained while the rain blew horizontally, and I maintained a dim hope that the greenhouse had withstood the gale. Peering out the front window, I saw my hope was in vain. There, like an upended turtle, lay the greenhouse, legs bent at odd angles. Within 20 minutes, the storm was over, and the late-afternoon sun caused steam to rise from the wet ground.

The remnant
Not only was the greenhouse upended, all the plants--I had just up-potted peppers and tomatoes--were, too. Empty pots and trays were strewn across the yard, and across the road. Since, not surprisingly, the power was off, the first task was to find and report where the power lines were down. Easier said than done, however, as trees had been "topped" about 10 feet above ground and the tops lay in the road. I could see neighbors navigating through, and heard chainsaws whirring, and, after a brief inspection at my place, went to check on family up the road. It was a mess, but no major damage to structures.

Treetops in the road
The Resident Dragon arrived home about this time, after helping to clear the main road of a downed tree, and we used the tractor bucket to clear our little road. Good neighbor duty taken care of, we returned to the greenhouse. Legs bent, it was not bad, but would need some repair, so we left it and tried to salvage as many plants as possible. Most just needed repotting, so we set them to right and went inside to enjoy the now-restored power, and air-conditioning, as darkness fell.

I spent the next week in a dither, trying to decide whether to go ahead and get a bigger greenhouse (which was planned for the 2017 season) or repair this one. In the end, we decided to learn how to weather the winter in the smaller greenhouse and repaired it. The plants are looking a bit the worse for wear, but peppers are blooming and I look forward to some tomatoes again soon.

Enjoying the silence
So, back to falling flat on my face: it's been a long week, and a long summer. Last weekend we cleaned house (it was either that or give names to the dust bunnies), and now, with a million things on my to-do list, I'm taking some time to enjoy the quiet solitude of my country, my only, home. I rush around so much, schedule jam-packed, task-list getting longer and longer, that I'm just beginning to understand that, sometimes, I just need to stop. and. enjoy. the. silence.

In the silence, I can hear the cat purring. In the silence, I can hear the dog's happy murmur. In the silence, I can hear myself breathing, slower and slower. In the silence, I can hear myself think. In the silence, I find myself, and realize how long I've been trying to be what other people think I should be. And, in the silence, I am restored.

Friday, February 26, 2016

My Winter Growth

It seems like forever since I've written, because it has been! My apologies. I've been taking two online courses and they've kept me busier than expected. I do want to briefly tell you about one of them.

As many of you know, I have a tiny boutique nursery called Savory Le Jardin. Since I plan to expand this summer, I went searching on my state extension service site for publications and courses and found, of all things, a Master Nursery Producer course. It has 21 modules chock-full of extremely detailed information. Now, not everyone among you might need a Master Nursery Producer course, but I do want to commend to you the good work and good information provided by your local extension offices. They develop and disseminate information to help farmers, gardeners, and families live well. To find your local office, Google "extension service mystate mycounty."

As you can see by the topic list, your extension service provides information not only for farmers, but for homeowners and families. My local office will pressure-test my canner at the beginning of the season, and even offers canning classes. Master Gardener classes are available, too, and our local Master Gardeners are very active. Our local 4-H is run out of this office, too.

The University of Tennessee Extension Service also has a web site from which you can download all sorts of publications with detailed, reliable information. While you might have to pay for paper copies, virtually all downloaded publications are free. I have my eye on a few hoop house designs.

If you're looking for publications from an even broader area, do check out This allows you to search through publications from many states, and even has an "Ask an Expert" feature.

So, you can see that I haven't been idle this winter. I've been growing my knowledge, and I expect my business to grow as well.

What about you? How are you living your Savory life?


Friday, September 25, 2015


Spent the day in the garden and this visitor fluttered by!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

"Tine" to Cut Costs!

When you're a micropreneur, you're always on the lookout for ways to cut costs. Here's one way I've made thrifty plant tags using index cards and plastic forks instead of those expensive plastic tridents.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Knowing the Value of Your Suds

Recycle a used foaming soap dispenser
It's amazing how accustomed we become to the simplest of things: soap, for example. Back when I was a child (and the earth was young and dinosaurs roamed), soap only came in bar form. Then came the liquid soap; I presume for those squeamish about touching soap other people had touched. The more recent incarnation is foaming soap: I presume to overcome the slimy feeling of soap. Of course, foaming soap is a luxury item with a luxury price. Being frugal as I am, I set about making my own. Here's how:

Enjoy your foam!

  • Save used foaming soap dispenser.
  • Fill 1/4 full with regular liquid hand soap (or castile soap and essential oil).
  • Fill the remainder of the bottle (3/4) with warm water.
  • Replace cap and shake to mix.
  • Voila!
If you were paying attention, you've probably made a shocking discovery: foaming soap is, at most, 1/4 of the strength of liquid soap. It's true. So, you're paying 4 times as much for foaming hand soap as for regular liquid hand soap. Ouch. But, if you like the feel of the foam, and I do, you still can enjoy it frugally with a little imagination!

What about you? How are you frugally enjoying your Savory life?


Monday, June 1, 2015

Ongoing Lessons in Entrepreneurship

Test-market before committing full resources to a new product line.
Or, what I wish I had known from the start.

  • Write your business plan, apply the rule of threes, then add a little more.

There are many, but my rule of threes states that your plan will take 3 times as long, cost 3 times as much, and revenues will be 1/3 of projections. This is especially true if you are trying to start a business while employed full-time elsewhere. You must sleep, after all, and there is a limit to the energy you can expend and maintain your money-making job.

  • Small risk means small gain.

There's an old joke about the difference between an artist and a serious artist: a mortgage. It's true. Nothing lights a fire under you like "betting the farm," but, in the current financial climate, that seems too dangerous for someone as risk-averse as I am. So, I'm starting small and growing slowly. I'm still working my "day job" for the "steady" income.

  • My customers are my "bosses."

One of the advertised benefits of entrepreneurship is that you can "be your own boss." This is, in a large sense, utter hogwash. If you're selling something--goods or services--your customers are your bosses and control you with their buying behaviors. Learn all you can about the identity and habits of your customer base and you'll make far fewer missteps.

  • If you can afford the note, you can afford to save up for it.

I have a real problem with this. I am, admittedly, debt-averse--a stance developed through some hard lessons. Unless it is essential, avoid paying interest to anybody. Interest is money you pay to someone else because you were not disciplined enough to save in advance.

  •  Develop your marketing channels before you fully commit to production.

I know, I know: you can't sell something you haven't made. Actually, you can; swindlers do it all the time. The problem is: how can you ethically sell something you haven't made? Okay, make a few and see how they go over. See if there is any demand for your product. If there isn't, can you create a perceived need or value? If you're making something nobody is buying, you do not have a business: you have a hobby.
Remember that you're selling to people!

  • "I'm going to sell it on the Internet" is not a marketing plan.
Perhaps it's just what I sell, or that I'm totally inept at Etsy/whatever, but Internet marketing just doesn't work for me (and I have a college degree in Geek). My husband is a jewelry artist and has sold, maybe, 5 pieces on our Etsy store (yes, our pictures are awful). That conversion rate is infinitesimal. He also sells at art fairs and crafts fairs where our conversion rate is about 25%. If you walk into our booth, there's a 1-in-4 chance you'll buy something. Part of that gorgeous booth design, but a big part is experienced inside-sales staff who know the questions to ask to make recommendations for the customer. My point is, Internet sales are all the rage, but our bread-and-butter is grassroots face-to-face retail.

  • Control costs.
Cost control is the difference between success and failure. In your personal life, each dollar you spend costs you at least $1.25 to make. If you follow that trend in your business, you'll soon be out of business. Margin is the difference between what it costs to make your product and what your customers pay for your product. The bigger the margin, the more you can pocket or reinvest in your business. While you're minimizing costs, always be on the lookout for value. Make sure that you're not degrading your product quality in the name of cost control.

  • Know when to say when.

If you're not making money, and you've given your business adequate time to develop, and you're not having fun, and you can quit without losing the farm, stop. Do something else. Do nothing else. Take a break before your next big idea. Give it your all, but, when your all isn't enough, stop.

  • So, you're going to see me on next month's cover of Entrepreneur magazine, right?
Um, no. I'm not trying to sell you a subscription or some high-priced webinar. I'm not scamming investors; I'm not taking out big loans; I'm not courting venture capitalists. I'm a small-potatoes micropreneur sharing the lessons she's still learning on her way to building a successful retirement business. I hope you can learn from my mistakes, and build your own successful business!

What lessons have you learned? Share them in the comments below!


Sunday, April 19, 2015

2015 Plants for Sale

Our mobile visitors cannot see the product list, so, here 'tis!

2015 Organic, non-GMO Transplants

Find us at the Fayette County Farmer's Market beginning March 28

Early Vegetables: Transplants expected to be ready March 28

Broccoli: Waltham 29: Tolerates cold well, but may “button” at colder temperatures.

Broccoli: Early Purple Sprouting: Tolerates cold well, may “button” at colder temperatures.

Broccoli: Calabrese Sprouting: new variety; Likes somewhat warmer temperatures.

Broccoli: Umpquah: Likes somewhat warmer temperatures.

Cabbage: Early Flat Dutch: new variety; reported to be good for kraut!

Tomatoes: Transplants expected to be ready after April 22

Note: All standard tomato varieties are indeterminate and should be staked or trellised.


Ozark Pink: survived a tomato hornworm invasion, produced throughout the season; good flavor.

Arkansas Traveler: survived hornworm onslaught, produced late into the season, good flavor; Arkansas name connection.

Cherokee Purple: survived hornworm invasion, good producer, excellent flavor.

Black Trifele: survived hornworm onslaught; flavor-wise, probably my favorite because of its mild and smoky flavor; much smaller than a pear for me, with a few cracks. Not a prolific producer, but worth the trouble.

Black Krim: survived hornworm onslaught; name recognition; good flavor.

Arkansas Marvel: new variety: catalog description: "4-inch, 1 lb., meaty, yellow-orange beefsteak tomatoes with red marbling with a gush of wonderful sweet, well-balanced tomato flavors”

Homestead 24: new variety: catalog description: "smooth, red, round 8 oz. fruits with exceptionally good taste"


Early Annie: short plant with few seeds, good flavor, actually produced all season for me.

San Marzano Gigante: the legendary flavor and twice the size!; good flavor, and excellent producer; prolific nearly until

frost; recognizable name; I'm actually planting San Marzano Redorta this year, but looking forward to a good harvest


Hawaiian Currant: Bracts of red, tiny, sweet, tasty tomatoes

Gold Rush Currant: Heavy producer of bracts of tiny orange tomatoes, great flavor

Peppers: Transplants expected to be ready after May 15

Chinese Five-Color: hot; new variety; beautiful edible ornamental whose fruit ranges through green, white, orange, and red; reported Scoville 50,000

Tam Jalapeno: hot; good producer, nice-sized fruit; reported Scoville 4,500

Jupiter: sweet; new variety; thick-walled, disease-resistant bell

Ozark Giant: sweet; good producer, medium size bells, produced until frost last year