Go garden go

Companion planting and happiness

“Companion plants create opportunities for timeshare or simultaneous display.” Lauren Springer Ogden, The Undaunted Garden.

I bought this gardening book because my green-thumbed Grandma DeeDee told me to. The problem with the book is that there is so very much information crammed onto every page. It will likely take the rest of my gardening life to get through it all. It’s not like reading a summer book, flipping pages while lounging in the sun. I read this gardening with my graph-paper notebook next to me, sketching out possible ideas to try as I go.

I won’t go into my specific gardening attempts with this post. Instead, I want to comment on the quote I shared above.

Companion planting is important to gardening well, whether it’s vegetables, trees and shrubs, or flowers. The flower above is one of the bulbs I planted in our parking strip (or hell strip, as Gardening Lauren calls it). It’s called an anemone coronaria hollandia. I planted it with over 800 other bulbs so it has a few companions, plus it’s surrounded by buffalo grass, which is currently dormant, but will turn bluish-green in the summer and require very little watering and no mowing.

One thing I’ve found that’s a must-have for me, home with my kids, is the need to do companion planting with my life.

Yes. I love spending time with my kids. It’s fascinating to watch them take in the world. They say hilarious things. They scream and fight. I lose my temper. We have amazing days. We have tiring days. But I absolutely need my “companion plants”. What are your companion plants in your life? Here are some of the things in my life that “supplement” or grow alongside my time spent with my kids:

  • Writers’ group
  • Book groups
  • Game night
  • Date night
  • Conferences (writers, tech, or spiritual)
  • Girls’ night
  • Soccer
  • Buying something on Amazon
  • Playing the piano
  • Doodling
  • Successfully cooking good food
  • Successfully gardening

I could go on and on with this list. This ties me into something I read in one of my other #becausehappiness booksHappier, about tracking what I do and whether it’s contributing to my happiness. You write down activities from your day and rate each with a number for how happy you felt doing it and how meaningful it was for you. Activities that are high in both contribute the most to your happiness. Cooking doesn’t always feel meaningful or joyful. Same with gardening. The best companion plants would be high in both categories, although, not all of the time, similarly to how flowers aren’t in bloom year round.

One last thing to add to my list: trying or learning something new. That’s a big part of my #becausehappiness goal and choosing the different books on my list. Learning and growing and stretching feels meaningful and joyful.

Come find me on my Facebook Writer’s page and share your list of companion plants. I want to hear it!

In the garden of Edith

garden-of-edithWe lunched today in Grandma DeeDee’s garden. I wanted to see her latest project, the parking strip in the front where she replaced the sod with blooms and green, a bird bath, a bird house, a bench, and a path through the beauty. She told me about wanting to do this last year and I wished her luck. She’s only 98 so why not come up with a new project? As we pulled up to her house, Dom looked outside and saw her home, in spring bloom, and simply said, “whoa”.

He climbed out and disappeared into her yard while I gathered our stuff and Gabbi. Eventually, he came back to find me and inform me that I needed to come with him. I needed to see all of the flowers. I needed to smell them all with him. He instructed me on how to smell them, leading by example, and watching me as I copied.

We sat on a blanket on the lawn in the backyard, eating our PB&Js. Dom would give Grandma pieces of his crust and she would eat them, making faces at him, which made him giggle and laugh.

“Eating the crusts will make your teeth strong,” she said. He picked off more crust and ate it himself, smiling at her.

Later, she sat on a bench while Dom searched for potato bugs.


dom-in-the-gardenGrandma told me about working on her project and how her sons helped her dig out roots, how she paid a boy that needed odd jobs to dig out the sod, and how she teaches piano to a family in her ward and they helped her afford the concrete pavers, bird bath, and bench because they owned the shop where she purchased them. She explained how she and my uncle dug up peonies from the back, split the roots, and planted them throughout the front. The blooms were just about to pop open today.

It was a group project. Grandma was the project manager. Turns out, nearly a century of experience and hard work makes you an excellent PM! She should be a consultant… in all of her spare time.

I had to leave sooner than I wanted to get home for nap time.

I only wish these cell phone pics were scratch and sniff.




here’s how our garden grows


We gardened. Finally. And the outcome makes me happy. The best visual outcome so far is The Herb Wall.


One day, we will repaint our patio. Until then, we will use some of the vertical space for growing herbs. Nathan tucked them in behind the raspberry bushes. One day, we will also get cool stepping stones leading up to them. For now, there’s a rubber mat. Crafty!

The construction was super easy. I found these clips on Amazon: Flower Pot Klips. I put them on my wishlist some time back and then they went out of stock, so I was saddened. One day, I stopped back into Amazon to find, they were back! I bought them. I bought them and they aren’t even “Prime-able”. Ever since joining Amazon Prime, I pretty much only shop Prime eligible items, but I ponied up for the shipping and submitted my order. I am happy with the transaction.

You can see one of the clips in the wall just above Nathan in the picture below. Once we marked out where to screw them in, he had them installed within a few minutes. I used some acrylic paint on the pots to label which herbs grew where, nothing fancy, just some black paint. Once filled with dirt and the herbs, up onto the wall they went. Boom. Done! Looks great, though, right?


We also set up the veggie boxes. I should have taken a picture of their terrifying state filled with towering weeds, but when I was digging those out, it was in the rain. (BTW, weeding in the rain is much easier than with dry soil so take advantage!) Between the weeds and digging out the top several inches of weedy soil, I filled up both of our garbage cans. Thankfully, the garbage truck still accepted them in spite of their weight.

We bought tomatoes, different peppers, two types of eggplants, marigolds, and basil from Smith’s Marketplace. After filling the boxes with replacement soil, in the plants went and then the hard part: adding the Wall-o-waters. These little greenhouses protect tomatoes from the cold. We have six of them from last year, but only bought four tomato plants this year. It’s rather exhausting to fill them up because it’s AWKWARD. But now they’re up and the only thing to remember is to pull them off before the plants get too big (so we can save them for many more years).


Both Dom and Pogi were our gardening helpers. Dom spent much of his time hunting worms, which he tossed into the composter. Pogi spent his time eating grass and being afraid of the hummingbirds that buzzed him. And yes, our cat is on a leash. We are those people.


peas-homemade-trellisesAnd on a last note, this wasn’t done this weekend, but it’s part of our garden so let me share! We planted peas weeks ago. Dom helped me and then helped water them and was excited to see them grow. As they got taller, I kept thinking that I needed to buy something for them to climb up.

Or I could make something. Oooo. Novel.

I realized there are these bamboo bushes (what are they really? dunno) growing on both sides of the pea section. I took some loppers, cut off some of the thicker bamboo branches and made a couple of trellises for the peas. One trellis was made with fishing line because I couldn’t find our string. Then, I bought some twine and made the second one. The twine was far easier to tie up, so don’t do what I did: stay away from fishing line. Just use fishing line to scare away deer.

Grow, peas, grow.

We’ve also planted a bunch of other seeds, some are slowly growing, others, not so much. Maybe, just maybe, we will eventually have: lettuce, chard, kale, carrots and kholrabi.

How does your garden grow?

The tomatoes are in


We planted six tomato plants on Saturday in little greenhouses. Hopefully they survive.

Some of the lettuce is coming up. Some of the peas have sprouted. So far, those are the only seeds showing signs of life in the plot.

But there’s some life from the carrots we planted in the big, blue pot.


The herbs are here in the pots too just hanging out on the bridge over our stream. Did I mention I like our backyard? Even if the lawn is bumpy.