Regrow Your Own Vegetables From Kitchen Scraps

By Mallory Traughber, Living Classroom

We had a large turnout for Mallory Traughber’s talk on how to regrow vegetables and save seeds from kitchen scraps, and there were plenty of questions beyond those she answered during the class. Mallory provided a variety of resources and even a tutorial on how to make your own newspaper seed pots. Mallory was kind enough to answer some additional questions in this blog. You can watch her talk in the video here and read her responses to your questions below.

Find the handouts from Mallory’s talk and more plant resources here.

Thank you all for tuning into the webinar last month. It was wonderful to chat with you and answer your questions about regrowing vegetables from kitchen scraps! More great questions came in through the chat box after the talk so we wanted to make sure we answer a few more here regarding transplanting your vegetables from a container of water to soil, more specifics on regrowing particular vegetables, and questions about starting seeds. 

Regarding Transplanting: Some folks were curious about leaving the vegetables they are regrowing in water or transplanting them to soil. I recommend transplanting the following vegetables to soil as a more permanent location — scallions, celery, bok choy, and all of the herbs we discussed (chives, cilantro, basil, mint, and parsley). This will save you from having to remember to change out the containers of water every other day and it gives the vegetables a chance to thrive in a lasting location. However I would keep the romaine lettuce in water since you are only going to get one “harvest” from it.

Getting specific on Regrowing: A question came in about regrowing a celery stalk that is starting to go limp. There is a trick to keeping your celery nice and crisp and that is keeping it hydrated! Wrap the stalk tightly in aluminum foil so moisture cannot escape. If it’s already going limp, you can revive it by soaking it in cool water for a few hours. Once you’ve revived the limp celery stalk, be sure to regrow the end! New shoots will appear after several days. It can be transplanted to your garden to grow a new stalk over the course of a few months.

Another question came through wondering if lemongrass could also be regrown using these methods. Lemongrass is a wonderfully fragrant herb and after you have used the top, you can regrow the leaves. Place the stem of the lemongrass into a clear glass with enough water to cover the roots. Place the glass in a sunny window and replace the water at least every other day. After the lemongrass re-shoots new leaves, you can plant it out in your garden.

More questions came in regarding regrowing lettuce. Romaine lettuce works best for this experiment but you can certainly try a head of lettuce. Once roots grow from the stump, new leaves will begin to form. You are going to get all you can out of it after 10-12 days — definitely not a new head of lettuce but enough to top a sandwich or two!

Folks were curious about regrowing garlic. A method I like to use is placing the cloves of garlic in a cup (in a sunny window) root side down, with a little water on the bottom. I change the water everyday. In about a week, the cloves will start to sprout at the top and grow roots on the bottom. Now I’m ready to transplant them into the soil. I plant them 6 inches apart in good potting soil with drainage. They should be watered every time the top inch of soil dries out. Growing garlic is a game of patience as they won’t be ready to harvest for 6-9 months, however the cloves will MULTIPLY in the ground, forming new bulbs!

Finally let’s address some of your questions on starting seeds you are collecting in your kitchen. One participant wanted to know if cucumber seeds should be saved using the same methods we demonstrated for tomatoes. You can certainly give this a try, however avoid using seeds from cucumbers labeled “hybrid” as they are often sterile. You would want to let the cucumber seeds ferment in warm water for a few days so the gel coat that surrounds the seed will be removed.

We talked about growing lemon seeds from organic lemons, and how the seeds should be rinsed of all sugars and then planted while moist. A participant wanted to know how long it would take to produce a lemon in this way. It truly depends on a variety of factors, it could take anywhere from 3-10 years, or it may never produce fruit as seeds are not always dependable. The health of the seedling depends on its location, the amount of sunlight it receives, the amount of  water it receives, if it’s growing indoors/outdoors, etc.

You can also grow an avocado at home from the pit. You will remove and clean the pit, and then identify the ‘top’ and ‘down’ ends (the top is where it will sprout and will be pointier and the bottom is where the roots will grow and will be flatter).  Pierce the pit with 3 toothpicks and place it half submerged in a cup of water, bottom side in the water. Change the water regularly to prevent fungal growth, and once the sprout has grown to about 6 inches long, you can transplant it to soil. This may take anywhere from 2-8 weeks. The more sun, the better for your avocado plant! This plant may never produce fruit, and if it does it may not be quality produce, however it is a lovely (and free!) houseplant to grow.

Thank you all again for your wonderful questions, for your beet recipes, and your courageousness to try new methods for making the most out of your produce. Always remember, “There are no mistakes in gardening, only experiments!”

Enjoy the talk? Take this survey to help us determine future sustainable landscaping classes.

The Solano Sustainable Backyards program and the talk are generously funded by the Solano County Water Agency.

Edible Landscapes: A Food Forest Garden

By Derek Downey, permaculture designer

Derek Downey, owner of Whole System Designs in Davis, designed the Pollinators Paradise demonstration food forest garden in Dixon (you can watch the process evolve and learn about the elements of a food forest garden in this series of videos). He then joined Sustainable Solano’s Food Forest Keepers and other interested participants to discuss food forests and answer their questions. There wasn’t enough time to answer all of the questions during the talk, so Derek was kind enough to answer the questions in this blog. You can watch Derek’s talk in the video here and read his responses to your questions below.

Watch the Elements of a Food Forest Garden video series and find more resources here!

Learn more about Derek and Whole System Designs here

How do you protect your plants from high winds?

Properly stake your young trees using one or two stakes per tree with ties that are loosely tied to allow movement and proper taper development of tree. For protecting smaller fragile plants you can be creative using stakes/burlap screens if a hedge is not in place.

If you have a large area, consider planting a windbreak hedge using some of the plants listed here. Make sure the plant can handle your USDA and Sunset Zone and is not invasive for your area. Your windbreak can include multi-function plants such as nitrogen fixers, food producers, pollinator support, fencing material and so on.

For general suggestions for fruit tree plantings, I suggest this link, which has a great picture of fruit tree planting (including what goes in hole versus soil around hole).

How can we learn to make a maintenance plan for our garden?

This is an important question and wise to consider before starting!

Consider what are the daily and seasonal tasks that need to be done for all the various elements of your food forest. Can you design your elements in garden in a way to avoid unnecessary maintenance later on?

I recommend getting a calendar and breaking your comprehensive maintenance plan into various categories and seasons and go from there. For example, you will want maintenance plans for fertility management, harvesting, irrigation, drainage, pruning, weeding, plant disease prevention and treatment, and ongoing plantings. Maintenance activities will vary depending on the seasons, for example, winter pruning vs. summer pruning.

Which of the food layers should you start with?

It depends! That is the permaculture answer to almost any question as context is key (such as your existing trees/plants, climate, soil, sun/shade, etc.). You will definitely want to focus on creating a plan before investing a lot of time and money in installing long-term trees and perennials, not to mention irrigation infrastructure and drainage systems. Check out this great write-up on steps towards establishing a food forest.

If I already created a general design for my food forest, I would start off my installation plan with the larger elements to get them started and then fill in the gaps with understory plantings. In the early years of a food forest, the perennials will be small, so you can get away with growing annual vegetables/flowers in the extra space in between, and as perennials and canopy filled in you will have less space for the annuals. if you have existing fruit trees/canopy trees established already, you can design the understory plantings (shrubs, herbs, perennials, groundcovers, fungi) and install these elements normally based on mature size.

Birds/squirrels got all the berries. Anything besides netting or just letting them have it?

Netting is definitely helpful if you are thorough with it. Another approach is to install a motion activated sprinkler such as these.

Additional Resources

Here are some online resources that will help Food Forest Keepers:

Mushrooms:

Global Inventory of Perennial Plants PDFHere is a link to website version and more from the creator of this resource: http://www.perennialsolutions.org/a-global-inventory-of-perennial-vegetables
Here is an Online Nursery of perennial vegetables, based in Humboldt County: https://www.rollingrivernursery.com/component/virtuemart/perennial-vegetables-and-herbs/perennial-vegetables

Fruit Trees
Here’s a excellent resource regarding planting a fruit tree guild: https://www.tenthacrefarm.com/how-to-
build-a-fruit-tree-guild/ 

Soldier Fly Bin/Bio Pod
My Soldier Fly Bin has grubs already since the Q&A! It is a warm-season composting alternative (quickly turn any food waste in to chicken / fish feed). It will not yield much compost (only 5% of feedstock material will remain as castings) as most of the biomass is converted into grub biomass.

Books

Enjoy the talk? Take this survey to help us determine future sustainable landscaping classes.

The Solano Sustainable Backyards program and the talk are generously funded by the Solano County Water Agency.

Big Gardens in Small Spaces: Container Gardening Tips

By Lori Caldwell, CompostGal

Lori Caldwell’s talk “Big Gardens in Small Spaces: The Adventure of Container Gardening” was a big hit. We had a ton of interest in this class, with 216 people registered! Lori provided great resources and her presentation was perfect for new gardeners and also very informative for seasoned gardeners. There wasn’t enough time to answer the many great questions during her talk, so Lori was kind enough to answer the questions in this blog. You can watch Lori’s talk in the video here and read her responses to your questions below.

Find the handouts from Lori’s talk and more plant resources here.
Want to connect with Lori? Find her information on our Sustainable Landscaping Professionals List!

Hello gardeners!!!

Thanks so much for participating in the Container Gardening Talk! I really appreciate all the great questions! I know we ran out of Q&A time, so I thought I’d respond to them here.

What is a bumper crop?

A bumper crop is when you get A LOT of fruits and veggies in a given season. This windfall is above and beyond what you expected. I wish you all bumper crops this year!

Would the fish emulsion smell attract neighborhood cats?

I’ve been happily using fish emulsion for years and there’s been no indication that cats have messed with my plants or soil. If that’s a problem, there are other options to provide nitrogen for your plants: alfalfa meal, worm castings or fish meal.

How do you add castings when you’re feeding your plant?

I make a dilution of the castings: take a small handful of castings and put in a bucket. Add water until they are the color of weak tea. The color is important as worm castings are like a fertilizer. Too much could kill your plants so be careful! I start by adding castings right after planting and feed on a regular basis until the plant starts to flower.

When you chop plants down do you chop them in the soil or put into the compost?

For plants like fava beans, I wait until the plant has mostly flowered before I chop it at the soil level. It’s important to keep the roots in the soil, the nodules (see picture above right) hold the nitrogen. I compost the stalk and eat the flowers!

For container gardens I’ll completely remove other types of plants and roots to make room for the next crop.

How to control pests without killing them (snails, slugs, tomato horn worms)?

Slugs & snails: Without actually killing it will require you to setup a series of barrier method options:

  • Crushed eggshells: put a ring of finely crushed shells around the base of your plants. It’ll be like crawling over glass for them.
  • Cloche: fancy ones are beautiful and glass; DIY ones are recycled bottles (glass or plastic). Cut bottoms off bottles and remove caps. Cover the hole with something breathable (cheesecloth, old nylons, etc). Cover plants at night to keep those night feeders away. Take off during the day.

Tomato horn worm: So not killing these creepy guys is going to take some preventative measures. One of the reasons hornworms show up is because of not doing crop rotation. The moth responsible for the worm is gorgeous! However, she likes to lay her eggs at the base of existing tomato plants. Planting tomatoes in the same container every year allows those eggs to
hatch right next to their favorite foods. Now, I know with container gardening crop rotation might not be possible. What about rotating soil? The following season after a “hornworm incident,” remove the soil from the container and replacing it with fresh soil. Reuse the soil in other containers that won’t have tomatoes that year.

 

Flickr: Amanda Hill
Flickr: Didier Descouens

Do you ever recommend neem oil?
I have never used neem oil actually!

I’ve heard recently about cloth pots. Have I had any experience with them?

I have used cloth pots in the past. I found that they dried out very quickly, even faster than terracotta! If I were to use them again I’d use drip irrigation to keep the moisture level up. They might be good for woody herbs that require decent drainage.

I wanted some tips to save my plants in winter. My basil does not survive the winter in my patio space.

Crops like basil need warmth in order to thrive. You may need to bring the plant indoors if you want it to overwinter.

Some tips for possible success:

  1. Place next to a window that gets afternoon light. Be careful that the light coming in isn’t too intense, it could burn the leaves.
  2. Clip back any brown or dying leaves.
  3. Go easy on the water. Test the soil first before watering. There won’t be as much heat like summer (unless you’ve got it near a heater vent).

How can I plant herbs from stem cuttings? Do I just stick it in the soil? How do I grow roots on mint that I bought at the farmers market?

Rooting them in water first works well!! I’d try to root them before/while you use the herb. They will take to transplanting to soil a bit easier. Just change the water every few days.

Where can I learn how big of a perimeter is required for different plants?

Most plant tags and seed envelopes give you a recommendation as to how far apart the spacing for mature plants should be.

I have some very large pots, way bigger than need be. What can I put in the bottom?

Well I guess my first question is what are you planning to put in these pots? If it’s a perennial plant, you might consider leaving the space. Having a fruit tree in the forever home has a lot of benefits: uninterrupted root development and allowed to grow larger much faster.

If it’s a shallow plant situation then you have some options:

  • Rocks or bricks – it will make it heavy so pick a permanent place for it.
  • Wood mulch or stumps – the wood helps hold onto moisture longer, so that’s great. However, sometimes new plantings die because the wood fiber in the soil is dragging nitrogen from the soil. New plantings rely mostly on nitrogen to get going. I’d suggest adding more nitrogen amendments to compensate.
    • Pros: inexpensive option
    • Con: nitrogen drag and the soil will start to sink into the pot as the wood material decomposes

Any recommendations for dealing with possums and raccoons?

I’ve never had to deal with either of those pests (knock on wood). All my research has pointed to creating barriers and getting rid of things that attract them. UC Davis has a wonderful website dedicated to helping you deal with those pest problems. I’ve included a couple of links to help:

What does Lori think about cucumbers in containers?

I think it’s great! I’m planting them in a container this year too. Try and plant on mounded soil or provide a trellis for them to climb.

Is liquid fertilizer better than powder?

I like both because some of my favorites come in either forms: Bone Meal (powder), fish emulsion (liquid), worm castings (dilute to make liquid). I like liquid because it’s easier to side dress (application during the growing period) my plants.

How do you prevent rosemary and thyme from getting too woody to cook with?

I haven’t noticed woody leaves on my older branches, guess I’ll have to check! I usually harvest and dry once a year from the new growth. That might be an option to prune back once a year. Sorry, I’ve never grown thyme … I’m not much of a fan.

Enjoy the talk? Take this survey to help us determine future sustainable landscaping classes.

The Solano Sustainable Backyards program and the talk are generously funded by the Solano County Water Agency.

Students Write Poetry, Essay on Healing, Life-Supporting Water

By Sustainable Solano

Sustainable Solano is pleased to announce the finalists and winner of our Water Poetry/Essay Contest among students of St. Patrick-St. Vincent Catholic High School.

Students were asked to think about and write on the theme of healing, life-giving, life-supporting and forgiving water. The winner, Samantha Willingham, received a fruit tree of her choice (a peach tree).

We were impressed by the thought and consideration these students put into their writing. They shaped the ideas behind the sacredness and power of water into compositions that were beautiful and inspired.

Students at St. Patrick-St. Vincent Catholic High School learned about water conservation and designing for waterwise gardens this year in a series of sustainability classes on permaculture and water capture and the hands-on involvement in creating a demonstration food forest garden, Teraza Dominicana, at the school.

That project and the contest were through our Solano Sustainable Backyards program, funded by the Solano County Water Agency.

We have published the work of the six finalists below. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did!

Sincerely Water by Samantha Willingham

I made you.
From the day you knew life I’ve sustained
you.
I know you.
I’m the clouds above and the ground below
you.
I can help you.
When you’re desperate and only I can save
you.
I see you.
When the waves clap onto the shore I greet you.
I heal you.
I’m the tears that run down your cheeks and release you.
I follow you.
From the lily ponds to the mountain lakes I’ll be there with you.
I forgive you.
When you hurt me I know you don’t mean to.
I love you.
No matter your color, species, gender, size, ethnicity, attitude, orientation, religion, or
beliefs.
All I ask in return is that you love me too.
– Sincerely Water

Contest winner Samantha Willingham

Water is Life by Sophia Bertholdi

Water is life.
Sustaining all living creatures.
It belongs to all beings and is a gift from our Heavenly Father.
A vital resource deserving of
respect and in turn ensures longevity to those who respect it.
Water encompasses all cultures and religions. Providing healing and cleansing of sins.
Water washes away sorrows and tears.
It refreshes and enlightens.
It is ancient and wondrous.
Calm and raging.
The Navajo regard water as Sacred,
Preserving mankind.
Mankind has taken it for granted.
Abusing its generosity — taking more and more.
We have violated this sacred resource.
Humanity has a chance to redeem itself.
To give back and preserve life-giving water.
The time is now.

Contest finalist Sophia Bertholdi

Water is our source of life by Bobby Brooks

Water is our source of life.
Water is our everything.
Water is God’s creation

Water nourishes us and protects us
Water heals our mind and body
Water is our everything
Without water we are nothing

We must protect water like it protects us
Water forgives us for our sins.

Water is the source of happiness and a good relationship with God.

Water is our everything.

Contest finalist Bobby Brooks

Water Poem by Michaela Lamb

Water is what many need,
From watering the plants to feeding the bees
But most of all our thirst goes away,
When we wash all our troubles away
With that crystal clear water we have always had,
What will we do if it ever goes bad?
The water is used for fun times and smiles
But what happens when it goes away for a while?
We come back to find the water we still have
Just waiting for us like we had
Don’t waste our water, it’s what we love
Keep the water clean for generations above

Contest finalist Michaela Lamb

What do you see? by Bella Stevens-Byrd

Close your eyes and think of water with me

What do you see?
Water is life-giving
Take that from me

but what I see and what you see is very different indeed

I see rivers running strong
I see lakes full in places they belong
I see kids playing in pools

I see girls getting hit with water balloons and hearing “boys rule”

I see dogs drinking from their bowls
I see babies on beaches filling holes
I see a woman drinking a bottle after a run
when I think of water I think of fun

World of Water by Stephanie Tuck

How often do you take a shower or turn on the tap without thinking about it? Most likely this happens every day. Do you ever just stare at the water and think about its existence? Whether we realize it or not, water is the main reason we are able to survive on our planet, Earth. We often ignore or forget how water impacts our lives in so many different ways.

When I was younger, I thought that the flavor of water was based on its temperature, so that made me wonder what water temperature tasted best. My eight-year-old self decided to run an experiment to find out for myself. I took five different samples of water at different temperatures and tried each without knowing which was which. To my surprise, my favorite water was the slightly cold, iced water, and now that is what I almost always drink. After running this experiment, I started to realize how much water I consume a day and how without it,  nothing would be alive.

Water has been on our Earth for about 3.8 billion years, and throughout this time, it has been life-giving. Humans were able to evolve because of the function of water and every organism on this planet requires water to live and breathe. Even the dinosaurs drank and lived off of water. We need water to breathe every day and it provides homes for so many sea creatures.

Water is not only essential, but it is also a symbol of life. In the Catholic Church, the
Sacrament of Baptism using water, gives us new birth into the Holy Spirit as both children and adults. Water also signifies purification and cleansing. It cleans our bodies while also bringing us to a healthier mindset. It not only plays a huge role in the Chritian religions, but also in Animism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. It is a holy symbol and allows us to use it in our
lives. In the Indian culture, divine water is used in temples and consumed during worship rituals. In other places of India, people swim in holy rivers to wash away their sins. In the Hindu religion, the Holy River Ganges is a symbol for purification of the soul and rejuvenation of the mind.

Billions of creatures depend on water to survive and live. Without water, life could not exist on our beautiful planet called Earth. In conclusion, we need to protect and preserve our water as much as possible because of the major role it plays for us, and our world.

Contest finalist Stephanie Tuck

4th Annual Demonstration Food Forest Tour a Reimagined Success

By Nicole Newell, Sustainable Landscaping Program Manager

Permaculture expert John Valenzuela shows the roof water outlet at Living & Learning garden in Benicia during the video tour

Our 4th Annual Demonstration Food Forest garden tour was very different this year, but still brought people together in new ways around the concepts of permaculture and creating waterwise, edible gardens. Permaculture expert John Valenzuela gave a talk over Zoom to nearly 100 people that included a Q&A session and a pre-recorded video tour with John in one of our 27 demonstration food forest gardens.

What also made this year unique was it opened up the opportunity for people from all over the country to be able to attend, even people from the UK and Canada! It was comforting to see all of the familiar faces and exciting to see new people as we are all adjusting to this new way of interacting through video conferencing.

We had to rethink the annual tour this year due to the pandemic and social distancing. The big vision is a community day of local people gathering to tour the gardens, get to know each other and learn about permaculture concepts that can be applied to their landscapes. The original plan was to begin the tour at Avant Garden in Benicia with John’s talk and then 14 demonstration food forest gardens would be open in Benicia and Vallejo for a self-guided tour. These gardens are open annually to educate the community on how to create beautiful and productive gardens that build healthy soil and use water wisely.

Knowing we needed to bring the tour to life in a new way this year, our Sustainable Solano team got into solution mindset. We found David Avery, a videographer that made the video of John touring Living & Learning food forest in Benicia. Then on April 25, John gave his live talk over Zoom and answered many questions on plants and fruit trees. For those who couldn’t make the live event, you can view the talk and Q&A in the video below.

 

View the Living & Learning tour video below.

 

Stay tuned for more! In May, we will record Lydia Neilsen touring The Ripple Effect and The Enchanted Cottage garden in Vallejo. At a later date, Lydia will present her Rehydrate the Earth talk in a live Zoom call. We are also creating a series of short videos on the elements that go into creating your own food forest garden. To stay on top of the latest, subscribe to our newsletter here.

On the Fifth Anniversary of Our Garden

By Nam Nguyen, Food Forest Keeper

Nam provides yearly updates on her garden and how it ties in with everything else. Here is her latest update from the garden.

The wonga wonga is in bloom, reminding me with its bunches of cream trumpet blossoms that despite what our personal or communal pandemic worries are, spring is upon us. And that I had to take a moment to appreciate that the Food Forest that you all helped install is coming to its own. Why, it’s old enough to take off to Kindergarten. Or in its case, Gartengarten. And take off it has.

I joked the other day, as stories of toilet paper flying off the shelves and food goods disappearing left and right swirled around, that I had not even checked my toilet paper stores because have you seen how much lamb’s ear was growing in my garden? Likewise, walking through its ever-changing paths (The plants have their own mind as to where the annual beds should be and what shape they should take each year — this year a very forward third-generation artichoke has declared that I am apparently going to have a keyhole bed instead of two separate ones.)

This year a roommate moved in. She is a dear old friend needing port from a storm, and seeing the garden through her response is like re-living all five years anew. She is a gardener, and she is a trained chef — and from the moment she stepped into it, they loved each other. I saw how her tense shoulders relaxed as she inspected each little nook and cranny. How her daily attentions perked up the plants who were so used to the survival of the fittest ways of Greyhawk Grove. She naturally took to it, chopping and dropping like a pro, taking last years’ pruning to make a trellis for hoped for summer cucumbers, and understanding the energy of all who have come before. And even her laughing about me eating, not the watery-sweet jicama-like root of the yacon Nicole planted years ago, but the rather tasteless rhizome, made me cheerful. (If you were wondering, she spent a good afternoon gingerly digging out all the yacon roots, and then made a lovely crunchy salad out of it with sesame oil, lemon and herbs. I hadn’t seen her so satisfied in a long time.)

When I was sick, she stepped into the garden and came back with a wonderful witchy and delicious soup that she declared was made entirely from the food forest: arugula, onions, celery, parsely, potatoes, thyme, peas. I told her that having a food forest and a chef roommate was surely one of the best ways to ride out a pandemic.

Aside from food and nurturing though, gardens heal the soul. Five years ago I barely understood the concept, but now, when a curious listing for a garden educator in memory care facilities came across my path, it made perfect sense to me. This year I started working in residential facilities bringing the same elemental essence of joy and hope and community to two communities in Oakland and Lafayette.

The children (now three with our new roommates) are home for at least two weeks from school, probably more. But they are happy like the birds that flood the food forest, easily moving from the home to the garden — not the slightest bit stir crazy. Graham is already eyeing the flowers budding on the berry bushes in anticipation. He diligently collects eggs each day. As he was when just a toddler watching David’s Polish chickens, he is still the one that pays attention to and cuddles them the most. He hand-picks bugs for them (mama makes sure he washes his hands really well upon coming inside), hugs them, and pets all 10 of them.

Perry catalogues all the plants in his encyclopedic mind and is quite pleased that his cat garden visitations have increased by three new cats (and that he was gifted another catnip to handle the additional load by a cat-loving neighbor). He is already planning a shortbread stand for the garden tour this year, seeking to branch out from his lemonade of previous years. “Shortbread can sell for more,” he told me. “They keep for longer. And I can use more plants from the garden, like lavender shortbread, or cheese and rosemary, or thyme, or rose, or lemon, or maybe lemon verbena. Maybe some of the berries.” Last summer he went round and collected all the edible flowers (roses, calendula, nasturtium, batchelor buttons, violas) and made sparkling sugared flowers from them. It was only a matter of time before he moved on from lemonade. Perry and the garden inspire each other onward. (While I have moved on from envy to accepting his green thumb, and simply ask him to plant things that I really want to grow. Last year it was saffron crocuses.)

Eight-year-old Seffy, the newest chaos creature to the crew, loves to flip over logs and stones and is an ace as discovering all manners of worms, bugs, and interesting finds. I had to remain straight-faced as she brought over “this really large and amazing blue centipede!!” Five years ago, none of those would have been easily found in the soil.

To have a garden is to hope. And in these times, as in all the times past, your gift of time, energy, love, and life provides shelter and hope and energy to us (and an unknown number of other critters). I hope you know that this little 20’x20′ plot has grown into something much, much larger. There is a little bit of you in those memory care gardens, a little bit of you in every bit of food prepared or eaten from this garden. In the mischief, ideas, projects and caretaking by the children. A little bit of you that sparks through the hopes and dreams and joys and quiet tears and still moments of everyone and everything that takes from and gives to Greyhawk Grove.