Yard Gardening, Yes, Front Yard, too!

In the last few years I have seen photos of and read about “edible gardening,” “the sustainable garden,” etc. and have been intrigued by the idea that the garden, whether large or small, can be lovely, relaxing, therapeutic and edible.  What a terrific way to supplement living, especially for urban or suburban residents!  By planting kitchen gardens or even just kitchen pots/boxes the gardener supplements physical health (fresh fruits and veggies aplenty), budget (after the minor investment into seeds and supplies), aesthetics (a producing garden is a lovely sight), mental wellbeing (satisfaction from working, good exercise of mind and body), and the list goes on and on.

For me, working in the garden isn’t really “work” which I consider as doing something I must do but that don’t particularly enjoy.  I enjoy digging and planting, pruning and watering, tending and admiring the growing things around me (sounds like raising children!).  There is weeding that must be done, checking on bugs and things that could be harmful to our garden but overall, it is a refreshing, therapeutic, invigorating exercise.  I feel sadness when something dies (I still don’t know why one of my garlic plants was struggling to thrive and then just keeled over one day) or when someone comes through (raingutter installation man, for example) and steps on tender seedlings without thinking or awareness (how could he not see that I have that area planted?!).

Anyway, enough of that.  Below are some photos showing what I have done with my yard.  The story of  its evolution is for another day.  For now I will just give a brief explanation of each photo.

Photo 1: Walk through, sit, enjoy

Photo 1:  As you can see, not everything is edible!  I also have native (to Utah) trees, shrubs and flowers throughout the yard.  This is in the front; it used to be the standard plot of water guzzling grass but I started from the outer perimeter and over a period of years (because my kids were shocked that I wanted to get rid of the grass) gradually shrank the grass until it wasn’t such a shock to do away with it entirely (yes, it was subversive, but it worked!).  Now I have a fourteen foot diameter circular garden encircled by a bark path.  The remaining space around the perimeter of the front yard space that you can’t really see is a mix of trees, flowers, shrubs, pots, posts, etc.  It still gets enough sun for the veggies while providing privacy from the sidewalk and street.

Photo 2: Lettuce, cabbage and garlic in the front

Photo 2:  This is a closeup of the circular garden.  Very easy to build, very easy to tend.  I planted five different varieties of garlic, each variety  a spoke on the wheel to delineate the sections which hold cabbage, bush beans, cucumbers, crookneck squash and peppers.  The perimeter of the circle is also divided into sections by the garlic spokes, each section housing either carrots, beets, oak leaf lettuce, spinach or radishes.  These are giving way to the larger plants in the inner areas as their season passes and they are pulled.  I have lifted one wheel spoke of garlic, the earliest maturing Amish variety, and have replaced it with a row of swiss chard which is now up and doing well.  It’s all very fun.

Photo 3: Garlic and beans

Photo 3:Another shot of the circular garden, with a bean tower in the background. A neighbor described what he saw as my kiva and teepee. I laughed, but there are actually some similarities between my garden and a kiva– both are places of spiritual nurturing and appreciation and worship of the creator. My bean tower is made from tree branch poles I have brought back from my beloved Olympic Peninsula. This was the most recent thing I did this year, just last week even, and so the beans are barely coming up. That’s okay though because the bush beans are doing just fine.

Photo 4: Tomatoes need sun so these are in the sunny south flowerbed

Photo 4:Finally, to the back yard, against the south facing side house in a former flower bed. This most sunny spot in my yard is perfect for tomatoes and peppers so here they go with the phlox, honeysuckle and mock orange. I am going to smother more of the grass this fall with paper and leaves so that next year there will be an additional two feet out (total of 10 sf) for even more tomatoes and peppers.

My photos are amateur, as is my gardening but it is working for me and my family. Neither will show up in a slick home/garden magazine but I really do love gardening, harvesting, and learning more about growing and producing food. If you have never had the opportunity to pick a tomato from a plant in your garden, sit on the porch with a salt shaker and eat it like an apple with juice running down your arms as you savor the flavor, you still can! I just got an email today, July 7th, from a local nursery advertising vegetable plants 2 for 1! It’s not too late, growing your own is a wonderful experience.

Invitation: Are you growing your own food? Want to share your experiences, advice, photos? Questions?


Just So You Know….

Here’s another “blogthing.com” especially for this campaign climate. My results for the incredibly simplified quiz are listed here but I’ll bet you have already figured out my conservative/liberal leanings. For newcomers, however, now you can see straightaway whether reading anything here will satisfy your ideological desires. Since it seems more and more to be the case that people only read what they agree with, blogs for example, maybe every magazine, newspaper or blog should have “Liberal” or “Conservative” as part of their title just to save us time — the “Screaming Liberal New York Times,” for example, or the “Coldly Conservative Wall Street Journal.”

Anyway, all sarcasm aside, take the little 2-minute quiz, just click on the link (How Liberal or Conservative are You?) at the bottom of the box — and be HONEST for heaven’s sake!

Laelyn’s Political Profile:

Overall: 30% Conservative, 70% Liberal

Social Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Ethics: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Tea anyone?

I found this fun little tea personality thingee on Blogthings — not lifechanging, just fun. It says I’m Black Tea. I’m not a tea drinker so I don’t know one from another but the analysis is pretty right on. Although I want to ask: am I really that intimidating???

You Are Black Tea

You have a bold personality. You’re not afraid of simply being yourself.

You have the courage to speak the truth. You are fearless in your actions.

You come off as a bit intimidating and unapproachable. Only confident people are attracted to you.

You don’t try to scare off anyone. You’re just an intense person!


moon-on-the-beach.jpgI’m seeking peace tonight, inner peace, the peace of the mind and soul. The kind of peace where you can sort yourself, all the pieces of self that get scattered by daily responsibilities of job, family, church and just functioning as a human being. Just to gather the little bits and chunks that one divides off willingly or simply because it is necessary to help others, or because it is part of your work responsibility to help, teach and support others and “the team,” whoever that might include. The sorting process is different for each one of us, we are unique, and we each deal with the clutter of life in our own way.

My way of sorting myself out is to go away — go away from home with all the distractions (most of which are good things, just things that pull me this way and that), from work, from that which I see every day. Unfortunately, I may need to find a different way right now because I can’t leave immediately– too much responsibility, too little flexibility. My family is going many directions this summer, I’m going with them part of the time. My daughter Jen and I are driving to La Push where we will meet the rest of the family, except for one son (Jonathan) who will be in Berlin, the end of May. I will find time on that trip for some solitude and restoration. June is full of birthday celebrations, a son turns 32 (Michael), a mother turns 80, and then we’re off to the U.K. and Germany for a whirlwind two weeks — not much peace in that! My daughter and traveling companion Tiffany will then stay in Wales until December and that is going to be difficult for me but wonderful for her.

I will be alone for the entire month of July but being alone means only that it is quiet; it doesn’t mean that it is peaceful! Maybe I can force myself to write– music and words– during that time — if I can stay cool enough to think straight. It will after all be July, in Utah….


I’m not titling this post “family values” because that term has been misused by many to further political aspirations which have masked the true aspiration — power. E.J. Dionne writes an op-ed in Oct. 7 Washington Post talking specifically about not only the misuse of the phrase by so-called conservatives but also the avoidance of the phrase by liberals even though, as he says, “In my experience, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between my morally conservative friends and neighbors and me [a liberal] in our attitudes toward the obligations of parenthood.”

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to me all values are family values. My religious beliefs center around the family. Our faith teaches that families can be eternal in nature and that what we do here prepares us for an eternal life after this mortality. We also believe that the eternal family extends to all people, that we are all brothers and sisters in God’s eternal family. Therefore, all values are “family” values.

I cannot support the Republican Party’s adoption of the term as their own when I see the Democrat’s espousement of values just as strongly in the policies they propose and support. The Republican claim to ownership of the term is especially abhorrent to me when I see the recent hypocrisy of House leadership (Hastert) handling of the Foley-page episode.

How will voters react when they realize the truth of this whole sordid mess? Will they continue to blindly support the party who touts themselves as the “family values” party, albeit in word only? Or, hopefully, voters, the citizens of this nation, will return to the values themselves, not simply the words, and vote for people, for individuals who should be able to articulate how they will put real values into policy. We have a host of incumbents up for reelection who have a voting history to examine. How have they voted in the past? Does that vote reflect what the citizens truly desire? If not, why vote for them again? Incumbents are the easiest of all to study. Their voting record and their supporting connections, either verbal or financial, are there showing us how they really feel and what their true concerns are tied to.

My plea to the voters is to PLEASE study this out in your own minds. Do not follow or be led blindly. Act for yourself and for what you believe.

Are You Ready?

The Center for American Progress Action Fund included in the August 10, 2006 Newsletter the following:

Emily Hesaltine, a 20-year-old intern for the Federation of American Scientists, took two months to single-handedly improve the Department of Homeland Security’s preparedness site, Ready.gov. Check out her work at ReallyReady.org.

ReallyReady.org is a GREAT site for emergency preparedness information. It provides simple, understandable definitions of different emergency situations (e.g. Earthquakes, winter storms, pandemics, chemical attack) and gives equally understandable direction on how to identify, prepare for and respond to each situation. If you have ever wondered what a pandemic is, the definition is there. If you’ve ever wondered what to do if you are driving down the road and see a tornado forming anywhere or hear about it on the radio, instructions are there. If you are concerned about what to do in the case of a chemical threat, from either a spill or attack, instructions on how to remain safe are there.

The key to surviving an emergency is in preparedness and the ability to remain calm and to think clearly. The ReallyReady site gives us the tools to deal with the immediate situation and once the initial event is over, you can then rely on your long-term planning if necessary. That should include food and water storage that will provide for your family for periods extending beyond the 72-hour emergency status to anywhere up to a year.

For those who say that faith and God will get them through, remember that God gave you a brain when He created you and He does expect you to use it.