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?