Sunday Morning Garden Chat: The Garden in Winter

Blessings be upon intrepid photographer & Balloon Juice correspondent Ozark Hillbilly:

Been awhile since we had garden pics so I thought I’d send some in.

At top: Just a pretty little window looking down into on of my hollers.


The homestead from the back.


My granddaughter gave us this a couple years ago, it is very prominently placed.


I am going to replace these gates if it ever warms up. Really!


This home is currently vacant. But at the rent I charge, not for long.
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Help a Furloughed Worker Out

About a week and a half ago, I read a story in People magazine about furloughed workers having a rough go of it:

When Kristie Scarazzo, a divorced single mom of a 4-year-old daughter landed her dream job last September as a botanist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, she drained her savings for the exciting move to Ventura, California.

“I thought I was making a wise choice, working for the federal government,” she tells PEOPLE, “one that is very secure.”

Four months later, Scarazzo, 45, is “trying not to freak out” as she deals with the uncertainty of no pay since Dec. 22, one of approximately 800,000 employees affected both financially and emotionally by a partial government shutdown without end.

On Friday, President Donald Trump, whose insistence for funding for a proposed southern border wall led to the government closing, said it could last for months — “even years.”

“It’s really difficult,” says Scarazzo, echoing the concerns of several federal employees whom PEOPLE spoke to as the shutdown grinds on.

I’m not usually in the habit of reading People magazine- not that I have anything against it, my grandmother used to get it and then they would end up at my parent’s house and it was something nice to flip through and see puff pieces and pictures of pretty people- but someone tweeted the story and it caught my eye. I think what resonated to me was the fact that she was a botanist- one of those jobs that doesn’t get the attention that “sexier” things like the Coast Guard or TSA do in this shutdown, but it’s a super important thing that we all take for granted. Plus, it’s one of those jobs where you just can’t stop going to work- plants die and the things they are working on are like the other scientists who are still going to work because years worth of work is in experiments that will just die and be lost if they are not dealt with every day.

At any rate, me being me, having a soft spot for single moms, I looked her up on facebook, assumed there was only one botanist in Ventura who went by the name of Katie Scarazzo, and messaged her. She was very nice although probably taken aback that some lunatic on the internet (yours truly) had hunted her down, but said she didn’t need help atm, but thanked me and I told her if things change, to reach out. I just got a message from her about a gofundme:

As many as government employees being cut from the pay due to the federal government shut down. My husband and I have created a GoFundMe, the funds, to help Kristie Scarazzo, graduated with a Master degree of Botany, gave up her previous job to work for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as her dream job of her life. We ask everyone to give a helping hand, the donations go to her, the single mother with lovely children of 4 years old. The funds will be used to pay for her monthly condo rent, food, student loan, child care, and other expenses. The total raised funds will go toward her all the necessary monthly payments immediately. I am grateful for who I am today; I have been in downtime ago and I know how it feels. I feel everyone should extend the helping hand as it is our human nature to have sympathy toward others, like Kristie.

I am in for 50 and hope you all will help out, too.



Sunday Morning Garden Chat: In the Midst of Winter…


A promise of summer. From intrepid gardener & commentor Marvel:

Here’s a spot of bright red happiness.

We grew a ton of tomatoes last Summer but when they came ripe, we were busy doing our fast/furious Buy New/Sell Old Home Switcheroo, so a couple of times a week, I just went over to the old house, harvested a bushelful, brought ’em home, quick-roasted them (to remove the seeds & skins) and tossed the lot in the deep freeze. These past two days, I’ve been thawing, cooking & canning a big batch (~2 gallons) of New Year’s tomato sauce. This quart escaped the pressure canner and will be joining us for dinner pronto — yay!

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You know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard from Southern-hemisphere vegetable gardners. If any of you want to consider that a challenge…

Here in the (not as frozen as it should be) North, seed & plant catalogs have been showing up in my mailbox since Thanksgiving. Anybody placed their 2019 orders yet?








Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Shutting Down for the Season

As we approach the hinge of the year, some reminders of better days, from the indefatigable & gifted Ozark Hillbilly:

We had a rather colorful Fall, with each tree in turn, turning its appropriate colors. As usual the oaks were mostly on the subdued side but the dogwoods, maples, and hickories more than made up for them.

Peak color came in the 1st week of November. (I remember when the 3rd-4th week of October was peak color. Global warming anyone?)

Then our first snow came on November 8th, followed by the 2nd on the 11th, and the 3rd on the 14th.

At top: I have several stands of maples and a few of pines. This pic captured the best of both.


Our dogwoods were special this year, taking on many colors.


A view of one of my stands of maples looking down a holler.

I planted Mexican Sunflowers for the first time this year. While I was disappointed in how they propagated, I was not disappointed in the pollinators they drew.


“I’m not dead yet!”


By the 2nd measurable snow fall, my mums, and my garden, had succumbed.








Sunday Morning (Garden-Adjacent) Open Thread

Did anyone ever figure out what the Oval Office Squatter thought he was talking about?

… My short non-biologist summary would be this: it’s fairly wet and cold in Finland so it’s pretty different. They don’t use rakes to avoid forest fires. Their big problem is bog fires. Many of the best parts of JI’s letter are cris de coeur, insisting on the non-role of rakes in any part of Finnish forage management.

On behalf of all TPM Readers, thank you to TPM Reader JI and we’re sorry about the Trump thing…

On that, we can certainly agree.

Also informative, and infinitely more depressing, is the new report from ProPublica/NYTimes “Palm Oil Was Supposed to Help Save the Planet. Instead It Unleashed a Catastrophe”:

The dirt road was ruler straight, but deep holes and errant boulders tossed our tiny Toyota back and forth. Trucks coughed out black smoke, their beds brimming over with seven-ton loads of palm fruit rocking back and forth on tires as tall as people. Clear-cut expanses soon gave way to a uniform crop of oil-palm groves: orderly trees, a sign that we had crossed into an industrial palm plantation. Oil-palm trees look like the coconut-palm trees you see on postcards from Florida — they grow to more than 60 feet tall and flourish on the peaty wetland soil common in lowland tropics. But they are significantly more valuable. Every two weeks or so, each tree produces a 50-pound bunch of walnut-size fruit, bursting with a red, viscous oil that is more versatile than almost any other plant-based oil of its kind. Indonesia is rich in timber and coal, but palm oil is its biggest export. Around the world, the oil from its meat and seeds has long been an indispensable ingredient in everything from soap to ice cream. But it has now become a key ingredient of something else: biodiesel, fuel for diesel engines that has been wholly or partly made from vegetable oil…
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