A Green Bean Garden for Gracie

 

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The wise bunny knows the carrot will not hop to him!   -Anonymous

I had planted some green beans in one of our gardens. They were about six weeks old and growing up just fine. I was out admiring the plants and noticed something was very, very wrong with the green bean plants! Something had chomped away all the leaves, on all the plants. Whatever it was, it didn’t touch the peas or the broccoli. It didn’t bother with the cauliflower or the brussels sprouts. Nope, just the leaves of the green beans!

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Leaves stripped away

So, what did I do? Well, of course I went straight to facebook and posted the question, “What is chomping my green bean plants?” I got all kinds of responses on what it could be, and helpful hints to keeping the critters out. Bunnies and slugs and squirrels, oh, my! Set out bowls of beer. The slugs will drink it and fall in and drown! Spray the plants with neem oil! Spray them with the stinky Repels All spray! They all seemed like great suggestions, and I was ready to try them all. After all, I had developed a bond with these plants… I seeded them, watched them take life as they sprouted, talked to them, watered them, fed them, and encouraged them to be the best they could be! Grow! Be strong! Go forward and be abundantly fruitful!

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Our little garden “Bunny”

And then, a couple of days later, BINGO! I caught the little critter red-handed! It was a rat terrier, namely our little dog, Gracie.

What?! Why was she eating the green bean leaves?! Then I realized that her tummy had been upset lately. This happens to her from time to time! She typically goes out to the back yard in search of something green to chew up and swallow to help her queasy tummy. But wait, not the green bean plants, noooo! And what else will she start eating the next time her tummy is upset and there are no great bean plants left to eat?!

I started to ponder the situation. The first thing I asked myself was, “Is it safe for her to eat the leaves?” I researched a little and found that it is generally safe for dogs to eat leaves; and they tend to instinctively know which ones are beneficial for them. Apparently, it is not safe for dogs to eat raw green beans, although cooked green beans are supposedly fine for dogs. Ok, she was not eating the actual green beans, only the leaves. Well, what good is a garden if your entire family can’t benefit from it? A friend said that she plants a garden for the bunnies that come into her yard, and then cages up the rest of the garden. That got me to thinking… why not build a little green bean garden for Gracie. It obviously helps her. And it wouldn’t be a big deal to build a little raised bed garden out of cedar boards. Hmmmm…

“Honey!?” (That’s my husband.) “What do you think if we build a little green bean garden for Gracie?!” (That means “you”.) Sidebar, I am very blessed to have husband who is willing to go along with my little gardening schemes. I’m the ideas person, and he’s the one who makes it a reality for me! So, here we go again!

We decided that a nice, little 2′ by 3′ garden should suffice. I made a trip to Home Depot to get some cedar boards. I picked up an 8′ and a 12′ cedar board, 6″ wide. I had them cut it for me right there, so I had 4 pieces of 2′ and 3′ boards that easily fit into my car. We wanted the depth of the garden to be 12″, which is why we needed the extra pieces. I also picked up some organic soil which we mixed with a little peat moss.

My husband, Jack, suggested we use some corner pieces for added support.

Now, you can see how it comes together.

I always use a heavy duty landscaping fabric under our gardens. It’s amazing how it keeps the grasses, weeds, and tree roots from getting into the garden beds.

Add some good dirt! And a week later…

And two weeks later…

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Voila! A 2’x3′ green bean garden for Gracie! Who knows, if all goes well and with no tummy problems, we may be able to harvest some beans for ourselves!

Although we planted only green beans in this little raised bed, we could have planted many other vegetables, herbs, or flowers. It’s a rather simple project and a raised bed this size doesn’t take up much room at all. A tiny bed like this can actually yield a fair amount of food. Soooo, whatcha waitin’ for?!

So, until next time…  plant some seeds, tend to your garden, and watch it grow! Josie

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Planting Seeds

 

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Never underestimate the power of a planted seed. -Anonymous

This is my first blog for Josie’s Garden; and I am very excited! I am not a gardening expert by any means. Although I’ve been gardening on and off since I was a kid, I still consider myself somewhat of a novice gardener, especially since I moved to Florida from Vermont 12 years ago. Gardening in Vermont vs. Florida is very different, so in some ways I feel as though I had to start over again when I moved here. I am learning all the time, sometimes by taking a class, asking those who are experts, or researching on the internet, but honestly, mostly by trial and error. I make a lot of boo boos, but that’s fine; I learn as I go. I’m not perfect, and neither is my garden. As I sit thinking about my garden, I acknowledge some things about it. It’s nothing fancy. It’s not large. It’s not even continuous; it’s scattered in various convenient spots throughout our yard. But it’s my sweet, little garden. I grew up surrounded by my mother’s side of the family. My grandparents were both from Italy, and as you can probably guess, had a big family that gathered and celebrated often. And every gathering centered around the FOOD! Lots and lots of FOOD! The thing is, a lot of that food came from the garden in the back yard. Up until her late 80’s, my grandmother always had a sizable garden. She grew all her own vegetables and herbs. She lived in Vermont, so the growing season was short. Every Memorial Day weekend she planted seeds and starter plants. Rows and rows and rows of them. It wasn’t a hobby; it was a way of life. All summer long we ate fresh salads, tomato sandwiches, fresh corn on the cob, homemade pasta with tomato sauce made from garden tomatoes and parsley and basil, and it goes on! We all helped when we could, from spring right on through the last fall harvest. Very little went to waste. She had 3 large freezers, so everything was cleaned, blanched, bagged, and frozen, to be eaten all thru the winter. This was where food came from. Sure, there were trips to the grocery for miscellaneous items, dairy, and meat, and to the farm to get fresh eggs. But a good chunk of the food needed to sustain her family came from her land. I think that is so awesome!

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My grandmother, great grandmother, and great aunt tending the garden.

Oh, and I have a passion or two…

I love the idea and practice of self-sustainability. And I appreciate the idea in all aspects of life: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Whether it’s a child learning to tie his or her own shoes, activities and practices for self-care, finding courage to stand up to something that doesn’t feel right, or growing amazing, fresh, nutritious, delicious food right in the backyard! There is nothing like feeling that sense of independence and self-support. Of course, we live in a world with others where we love, care for, and support each other; and that is a beautiful thing. But I’m talking about being strong and functional and unshakeable from within ourselves…. and then entering our communities, ahhhh, yes, the cup runneth over!

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Vibrancy!

I also LOVE fresh garden vegetables and herbs, especially ones I have grown and tended to myself. I love everything about them! The rainbow of vibrant colors! Ooh, the aromas! And the TASTE, so fresh and loaded with flavor! The CRUNCH! There is just NOTHING like the deliciousness of fresh picked vegetables and herbs, yum! Oh, and then there is that other thing about nutritional benefits too!

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Dandelions and Bluets

And what about flowers? Yes, I have been a flower lover since my earliest memories. Growing up in Vermont and New Hampshire gave us a short season for blooms. Spring and summer months were spectacular for annuals and perennials. One of my grandmothers had the gift for landscaping with annuals, perennials and shrubs. In April, her crocuses peeked out first, then daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips followed. May brought lilacs in whites, lavenders, and purples. June was all about the stunning peonies, one of my favorites. The violets, clover, dandelions, bluets, and johnny-jump-ups all grew wild in her lawn. And she planted annuals of zinnias, pansies, snapdragons, daisies, and black-eyed Susans. There are so many wonderful memories of her that come rushing back to me when I see the kinds of flowers that were part of the landscape she created in her yard.

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Sprouted Gaillardia seeds

Today I think I’ll plant some seeds! I really like planting seeds, and since I don’t have a very big yard. I also like to share with friends and clients. I am very fortunate to lease my office space in a business complex where the property is LOADED with flowers. The property owner also has a love of flowers, and a passion for planting flower seeds. As you can imagine, he is one of my favorite people to share with! Today I am planting some gaillardia seeds that I sprouted in a paper towel to share with him. I put the seeds in a moist paper towel 3 days ago, and most of them have sprouted and are ready to plant.

I’m putting the sprouted seeds into nursery pots and covering them with about ¼ inch soil. When the time comes, I’ll keep a couple of the seedlings to transplant into the ground our yard, and then share the rest. Notice my fancy popsicle sticks?!

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Sprouted Gaillardia seeds planted 1/4″ deep in nursery pots

Here’s a little something about Gaillardias:

  • Also called Blanket Flowers
  • Over two dozen species in North and South America
  • In the sunflower family
  • Heat tolerant
  • Usually perennial in Zones 3-10
  • Like full sun
  • Flowers are 3-5 inches
  • Not super picky about soil but do need good drainage
  • Named after 18th French magistrate M. Gaillard de Charentonneau
  • The spirit of the gaillardia flower is said to enhance healing by providing a sense of a safe, secure blanket covering oneself.
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Gaillardia flowers

With a little luck, and some proper attention to these sprouted seeds that have been planted, flowers like these will be gracing our yard, and maybe the yard of a friend or two!

Just a closing thought, when I plant seeds, I always like to think about planting seeds of intention in my life. So today, as I close, I am planting some intentional seeds… about remembering to live in the moment and really savoring every sweet, little blessing of the day, and that this blog finds its way to grow, thrive, and nourish all who take the time to read it!

So, until next time…  plant some seeds, tend to your garden, and watch it grow! Josie