Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy Heart for Heart Health Month

photo courtesy Crystal
February, Heart Health Month, Valentines Day, and for many of us, COLD.  Winter is coming to an end, so said the groundhog, but this month often feels the coldest.  Sure our days are getting longer and the sun is higher in the sky, but everything lags a little.  We stayed busy through the really short days planning and celebrating the holidays, but now it all catches up to us in the form of cold, depression, and cabin fever.   With cold and winter, we tend to go inside more.  Inside our houses, inside our blankets, inside ourselves.  This is a good thing to do.  It’s a great time to rest, dream, and plan for what may come ahead.  We need to get back in touch with ourselves and be a little introverted at times.  I see it as a switch of focus and a time to work on personal things.  But with this going inside, we may start to close off the outside.

I’m probably not alone in my tendency to drop my head into my chest and fold my arms and hug myself in at this time of year.  But by February, I start to really feel the effects of this.  My shoulders and neck become tight, my back may hurt, and my chest and heart are closed in, tense, protected, retaining warmth.  I have to remind myself to stretch, open my chest, let my love light shine and try to absorb any warmth and love that I can!  It may be hard to convince yourself to get out in the cold to attend a yoga class, but do it!  This is where I was awakened to the importance of the heart.  In fact, whenever I think about the heart, I immediately think of a lovely lady I know, Crystal, who lovingly shared the photos you see throughout this heart page.  So many of her yoga classes are centered around the heart and little hearts seem to follow her everywhere!
We also may notice that people can be really grouchy around this time of year.  Perhaps they’ve closed off their hearts a little too much.  February
being Heart Health month, and Valentines Day right in the middle of the month are all great reminders to nourish our hearts and spread more love to ourselves as well as everyone around us.
This months tea selection is Happy Heart.  This is a blend consisting of Hawthorn, Motherwort, Rosehips and Rose Petals, Scullcap, Jasmine, Lavender and Basil. It was made to help heal the physical, emotional and spiritual heart.  Hawthorn, Rose, Lavender and Jasmine all help to balance the Heart Chakra.  Many of these herbs are also nervines.  Nervines soothe the nerves, which can help us relax, combat stress and melt our problems away.  A customer going through a tough time once told me that this tea was like a warm blanket wrapped around her heart.  Hearing that warmed my heart as well!

photo courtesy Crystal
Hawthorn has been used for hundreds of years for the physical heart.  It contains anti-oxidants for the heart and blood vessels.  It can be good for general heart support and protection, lowering blood pressure, heart murmurs and diabetic heart problems.
Motherwort is another herb for the physical heart.  It acts as a nervine, calming the nerves throughout the body, including the heart.  It protects and calms the heart, sounds quite motherly to me!
Rose hips and petals work a little more on the emotional side of the heart.  It can help relieve that constricting feeling we may feel in the chest and abdomen when we are emotionally stressed or grieving.  Spiritually, rose represents honesty, the ability to love and nurture, and creates joy and a positive outlook.
Scullcap, is another nervine and sedative that can help promote meditation and is a great herb for stress relief.  Stress is well, stressful on the heart.  We can feel it any time we are nervous, anxious, angry, scared.  Our heart pounds and our “blood boils”.  We feel so so much in the heart.  What better way to care for the heart than to help it and the rest of the body relax?
Jasmine is yet another sedative, although gentle.  It may also help to lower blood pressure.  And it will help attract spiritual love.  Just the smell of the jasmine and other flowers in this blend help me relax and feel loved.
Lavender, the third flower in this bouquet of a tea is also a mild nervine and sedative.  You’ve probably used lavender in the evenings to help you relax.  Maybe you have a diffuser in the bedroom or spray a couple spritz of lavender on your pillow habitually.  It is calming and soothing, yet uplifting.  Spiritually it brings love, serenity and trust.
And then there’s that little hint of basil.  It is yet another mild nervine.  Spiritually it brings love, protection and wealth.  The scent is said to bring sympathy between two lovers and soothes tempers between them.

photo courtesy Crystal

So as we fight through this last bit of winter with dreams of warmer weather and happy flowers, let’s warm our hearts and souls with relaxation and love.  Treat yourself with care, take a yoga class, make some time to meditate, breathe in the scents of some healing flowers, and drink some herbal tea.  Let’s warm our hearts to give them the best care and show this love organ a little love!

Tea of the Month Club

A common practice for herbal healing is to focus on and spend some time healing and toning that area with an herb or formula of herbs.  The amount of time spent can vary depending on how severe the problem is, if there is one at all.  If you just want to tone the area, a month may be enough.  For a more severe problem such as cancer, lyme disease or arthritis, many months or years may need to be spent.  For a problem like the common cold, I start with echinacea, elder berry and extra vitamin c when I notice that people around me are getting sick.  I stick with it until I notice fewer people sniffling and coughing.  This could be a month, or unfortunately it could go on for many months.  If this doesn’t work and I get the cold too, I add more herbs and more cups of tea until I feel better!  For other problems, such as hormonal balance, I may stick with the herbs for 2 months and then take some time off to see how things have gone.  When my heart is feeling heavy, I seek out soothing herbs and may only need them for a few days.
Given the nature of herbs and the slow action they may take, a month is often needed to feel effects.  But depending on your individual body, some people may notice changes in as little as a few days.  How much you take in also has an effect.  With teas, I like to drink 1-3 glasses a day.  You may choose to drink the 3 glasses a day to feel optimum results. Using the cold example again, if I have a cold, I’ll drink 3 or even more glasses a day.  If I’m just trying to boost my immune system in attempts to prevent a cold, I’ll just have on cup a day.  Even one cup every few days can still be doing your body good!  That’s one more cup of goodness, and hopefully one less cup of some sugary drink!
Back to the tea of the month… All of my tea blends were created with a specific purpose in mind, usually reflected in the title.  These blends are not a cure for any problem, but can help as an aid.  I’ve chosen one of these blends specifically for each month of the year.  Each month I will talk more about why I chose each blend.
Teas will be sent out the week before the beginning of the month to make sure you have that tea to start drinking on or around the first of the month.  There’s no strict schedule here, some blends are good for an entire season.  You don’t have to stay on schedule, but if you choose to we can hopefully have discussions about the focus for the month.
Below is a list of teas we may be drinking:
January-Drift Off To Dreamland
February-Happy Heart
March-Tranquil Tummy
April-De-Toxic Avenger
May-Berry Brainy
June-Aphrodite’s Blend
July-Kooling On The Shore
August-Gingerly Lemon-Aid
September-Sing Like A Bird
October-Fall Into Smiles

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Squash sage and radicchio

I've been working farmers' markets lately, trying to sell organic produce.  It's a tough job when you're up against conventional farms who grow lots and buy even more from other farmers located god only knows where.  My one little table looks so skimpy and is barely even noticeable compared to the other farmer vendors with 5, 6, 10 tables of produce.  They even have bananas and lemons.  They may be able to argue the tomatoes or peaches in late June, but there's no way those lemons are Jersey grown.  So, to answer the often asked question "Why is your table so small?"  It's because we grow it all ourselves!  We are organic!  We do not use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides!  Spring was late and cold this year!  It's humbling, it's frustrating, it's sad, when my table is overlooked because even at a farmers' market, the customers still want one stop shopping.  But then you get those few customers who get it.  They come to me because they asked the other farmer questions, only to have that farmer stumble over the answer, knowing that they weren't going to get that sale, because this is an educated consumer!  It may only be one customer who wanders over out of the 20 with their backs to me.  But that one customer makes my day!
On to my next big question that customers ask, "What do I do with this ___?"  I'm no cook.  I don't remember recipes, so I stumble and try to give a rough idea.  Maybe I steal an idea I overheard from someone walking by, or quickly grab my phone and search for recipe ideas.  Well, I got a creative hungry little bug tonight and created a recipe.  Since I work on this farm and struggle to sell some of the produce and I have my own garden at home, there's plenty of odd produce bits that need to be eaten NOW.  I sat there staring at the bolted lettuce and broccoli with one day left before it flowers, and thinking about those poor yellow beautiful squash and green radicchio that was wilting away sadly.  What the hell do I do with these ingredients?  Here we go...

We grilled up some chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper and parsley painted on it.  In the meantime I sauteed some zucchini (you could use yellow squash or any other summer squash, we just had a half a one left over), broccoli, and shallot in some olive oil with a little salt and pepper.  When that was all tender, I added some fresh sage.  I then took the veggies out and made a roux with butter and flour.  I was going to use some bacon fat, but to keep it healthy, I just stuck with butter.  (But some chopped up bacon could have been good. )  Then I added some chicken broth and made a gravy.  The gravy could be skipped for a lighter meal, but the man of the house LOVES gravy, so I made him happy.  So, now that's all cooked.  We took some green radicchio and put that on the plate as a nice little bed, placed the chicken on top, then the veggies, poured some gravy on it, and just to top it all off, sprinkled a little parmesan on top.  It was great!  One of my rare attempts at creating a recipe with the ingredients I have in my garden and fridge.  Quite a success.

I am not a cook.  I can follow a recipe and I can cook what I know.  Beyond that, I play around a little, but usually go with what I know.  So I apologize if this recipe seems wacky or confusing.    What I do have in common with cooks is that I don't measure.  Also not great for sharing recipes.  But this is pretty flexible.  You can skip the gravy.  You can skip the meat, or use pork.  You can grill everything.  The important part is the fresh ingredients you just bought at the market and have no idea what to do with.  Get creative!  Have fun!  That's what we did!

Here's our recipe:
2 chicken breasts, pounded
1/2 zucchini or any other summer squash
1-3 shallots
green radicchio
chicken or veggie broth
olive oil
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese

Grill chicken breasts and paint with olive oil, salt, pepper and parsley
Sautee squash, shallot and broccoli in olive oil.  Add salt, pepper and sage when veggies get as soft as you want.
Remove veggies and add 1T or so butter to pan.  Add some flour to make a roux.  Then add some broth, about a cup and sprinkle some thyme if desired. (the sage could also be added here)  Stir as it bubbles a bit and becomes gravy-like.
Create a bed of radicchio on each plate.
Place chicken on top.
Put veggies on top of that.
Pour gravy on top.
Sprinkle with parmesan.

Here's how it looked

We ate outside watching the fireflies.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The world is my buffet table: Dandelion

   "Mama had a baby and it's head popped off."  We used to sing that all the time as kids and pop off all the heads to the dandelions.  Now here I am 30 years later doing it again.  No, I don't have kids.  I love dandelions and I noticed they are blooming everywhere.
   I was too late to get the leaves or roots.  The leaves are great in salads, sandwiches or even juiced or thrown in a smoothie.  Diuretic, good for digestion, and cooling.  They contain vitamins A and C, and antioxidants.  I was even told "You should pick those dandelion leaves now, before it's too late, they're ready."  I thought that was crazy!  They weren't ready yet.  They needed more time to fill out.  It wasn't so crazy.  Within 2 days, there were the flowers, all yellow and smiley.  So I did some research, and sure enough, you want to pick them before the flower comes up.  After the flower comes up, they get more bitter and stringy.  Damn.  I'll still pick them anytime I need a fresh green, regardless of a flower being there.  But they are better before they flower.
   Well, maybe I can harvest the root.  The root is so good for the liver, it increases iron levels and enhances iron absorption, it helps with nerve transmission, and is also cooling.  I had a feeling that was going to be something for the fall.  I was right.  You want to harvest the root from late fall to early spring.  The temperatures may feel like early spring, but the day length tells a different story.  Nuts!
   But... It turns out you can eat the flowers!  I wasn't sure what to think about this at first, but I just had to give it a try.  Here's what you do to enjoy these smiley bits of lawn sunshine.
   My first suggestion is to pick the flowers early in the day.  That is usually the time to harvest an herb. Usually.  I went out late in the day, because that's just when I finally got my act together on this project.  It was part of dinner, of course.  The wind had picked up and a cold fog was rolling in.  The flowers just didn't look as cheerful as they did earlier in the day.  Whatever, I had to try it today!  I picked just the head off.  No stem.  I didn't worry about removing the small green leaves.  Then I rinsed them really well to get any bugs or dirty stuff off.  Not that I'm too concerned, I'm sure there have been many little bugs in my salad or dinner.  It's fresh and organic!  Most of the flowers came from a fenced in area, but some were from other spots.
        Important note: You want to be careful where you wildcraft.  You don't want to eat things from a lawn that is sprayed or maybe has runoff from a road or other gross source.  Plants are kind of like filters and will suck up dirty things, so a good, known, clean area is best.
   Then I laid them out on a paper towel to dry.  I made a batter
with 1/2c. heavy cream (it should be milk, but I forgot to buy some), 1/2 c. flour, and 1 egg.  You could definitely get creative here.  Maybe cornmeal or some herbs?  I forgot the salt and pepper.  That would have been nice.  Beer could be used for a beer batter, or you could get creative with the flour and liquid.
   I got a pot and put about 1/4" to 1/2" of oil in it and got that hot.  I used sunflower oil.  Any oil could be good.  Coconut oil could be very tasty!  To make it a healthier fry, use a healthy oil, and keep it at a high temperature throughout.  You can do this by making sure you have enough oil in the pot so that when you put a cold item in there, it doesn't cool down the oil too much.  Also don't throw them all in at once.  Just fry a couple at a time and then do another batch.
   I drenched these little flower heads in the batter and threw them in the hot oil for a few minutes.  When they looked nice and golden, I took them out and laid them on another paper towel to drain and cool.
   I made a honey mustard sauce for dipping them in.  Any dipping sauce would be good.
   They were great!  We ate them too fast to get a picture.  It was so fun to eat something that seems so strange.  Something that people spend so much money and time getting rid of.  Something that is everywhere.  Perhaps we should embrace what the world offers us, rather than try to kill it.  Maybe their resilience is a sign that we need to make the most of it, and use them.  If my entire lawn was dandelion rather than grass, I'd be so happy.  Maybe my neighbors wouldn't.  But I wouldn't be mowing and I could eat my "lawn".  And they are just such happy mini sunshines!  Now I walk around wondering what else is out there for me to eat that I don't know about yet?  I imagine I could feed the entire city a little snack with all the flowers that are out there.
   It's tough to find information about the nutrients in the flower, but from a few sources I've seen, I think dandelions contain vitamins A, B and C, phosphorus, and calcium, betacarotene, iron, zinc, potassium, and lecithin.
   There are recipes all over the internet for different ways to fry them up.  There are recipes for cookies, a syrup, and teas.  You could even just sprinkle them over a salad.
   I also tried making some dandelion syrup.  Not knowing what I might be in for, I just made a small batch.  Also, I've been so excited about these flowers, but I wanted to leave some to go to seed (some people might hate me for that!).  I picked 15-20 flower heads, once again not worrying about the small leaves.  I put them in a pot and covered them with some water.  I only wanted to bring them to a boil and then let them steep.  A watched pot never boils, so I did a little vacuuming.  Thanks to my boyfriend for seeing it and shutting it off.  Next time I will at least stay in the kitchen.  I let them cool and then put the infusion in the fridge overnight.  The next day I strained the infusion making sure to squeeze out all the liquid I could.  It turned out to be about 1/2 cup of liquid.  I put this back into the pot and added a little less than 1/2c. sugar.  I heated this up until the sugar was all dissolved.  You can add lemon, but I wanted to see what it tasted like plain.  It was like honey!  You can add this syrup to some water for a tasty drink.  I'm thinking of adding it to some vodka with a little lime, for a nice cocktail tonight!
   I hesitated on posting this, thinking it needed more pictures, thinking I would make that cocktail and talk about it, thinking there should be more.  What I got is another link for eating dandelion flowers.  These are fritters, not fried, more like pancakes with stems poking out.  Fritter recipe

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Motivation? Motivation?

   Oh motivation, my good friend, where are you?  I really need you right now.  There are still many jobs to finish.  Are you hiding, wrapped up in blankets, avoiding the cold damp weather?  Are you taking a break after a week of hard work?  Are my authoritative powers not strong enough to keep you working?  Please come back!
The dogs answered the call of the nap!
Not helping my battle.
   Hopefully I just left you in the greenhouse and you're responsible for waking up those seeds and getting those seedlings to grow so fast.
   I thought since I couldn't motivate myself to do some of the things I needed to do, I could at least write about this little problem.  As I sit here trying to write, there's a tug on my left arm.  "Oh, well hello there Procrastination!  Thanks for stopping by!"  Now here I am searching online for tips on how to stay motivated.  They're not helping.  I feel like my brain has quit.  Focus? Why don't you stop on in?
   Let's get to the real roots of the problem here.  I am stuck in this spot of being somewhat recently unemployed and not quite yet self employed.  I no longer have that structure of having to be at work at a certain time, in a certain type of clothing, to do a certain job.
   Oooh, the mailman!  What paper treats does he have for me today?
   Not having a job is great!  Starting your own business is exciting!  But also scary and some of the tasks are, well, boring.  I've spent a year or so on this business so far.  Four years if you count the other ideas I had and decided not to follow through with.
   I'm at that boring point now.  I've created my recipes, sampled them out, and got mostly great reviews.  I've adjusted the recipes according to some reviews and I'm happy.  I've designed the packaging.  I've created a website, even if it is a rough work in progress.  I've gone to the lawyer to get the business filing started.  What's left?  Details.  Boring, ugly details.  Writing up return policies, terms of agreement, and other not so exciting stuff.  Ugh.
   It's easier to find motivation when you have a result that is exciting.  I wanted to work on the package design, website, and recipes because when it was done, I could proudly display it and show it off.  I'm staring at the box right now and smiling.  I can't wait to get the finished package back so I can take pictures and put it on the website!  But return policies?  Where's the reward there?  The only reward I can see is crossing it off the to do list.  It's an important piece of the pie, but ugh, who cares.  How about I just start also making these things to sell too!
   And now I'm overwhelmed.  I've gone from selling boxes of herbal tea at farmers markets to overtaking an entire craft fair with all of my potential products.  Focus.  Get back to the tea.  Ok, the tea and the blog that you have neglected for 3 weeks.  Neglected because I have procrastinated, avoided, and lazed out of everything to the point that I didn't even have anything to write about.  All I want to do is take a nap, which, interestingly is one of the tips people gave for regaining motivation.  I refuse!  Even though it is rainy, cold, dreary and still brown outside and that quilt and pillow look so good right now.
   I think I feel it coming back! Motivation?! Is that you? Did forcing myself to write about not wanting to write inspire me to write more?  I think so!  That check mark next to policies will look great!
   After I make some lunch.

What are your tricks to get yourself up and at 'em and to pull yourself through the doldrums?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Our Dream Garden, but only the small dream

    I've had a lot of time on my hands lately.  I lost my job, which is so great because I really wanted more time to work on my herbal tea and recycled object business.  Now I've got too much time.  That leaves a lot of room for staring out the back window and dreaming.  Thank you Grow Write Guild for encouraging this and asking me to write it down!
     I have many dreams of my garden.  Some involve more space than others.  So I don't get too crazy, I'll just stick with my dream for the space I have now.  We only started here two years ago, so it was a clean slate and it's still a work in progress.  I like to stick to the attainable dream so I don't drive myself crazy.  I'm not ready to move again yet.
     The first part of our dream involves food.  Probably the second and third part, or just about all of the parts involve food.  We love flowers, but we find we're often moving them somewhere else so a food plant can go in that spot.  Food plants have flowers too!
  So, food.  We have our vegetable beds as well as a strawberry patch, blueberry bushes, a cherry tree, a fruit cocktail tree (peach, apricot, plum, and nectarine), an apples tree (fuji, golden delicious, and gala), a marion berry, and soon schisandra berries.  In our dream, they are bigger and bear many fruits!  We want too much so that we have to invite friends and neighbors over for feasts.  And then there will be extra for canning/drying/pickling for the winter.  Last season the squirrels got fat off our peaches, our single apple blew off during Sandy (I'll take that loss over what other people lost), and we had a small snack of blueberries.

We also want to add grapes, almonds, goji and citrus in pots.   One side of the house, you'll walk through a gate under grape vines, and on the other side, schisandra vines.


     Part two also involves food.  Chickens!  Maybe ducks too!  Although I'm sure they'll end up more like pets and we will only eat the eggs.  These chickens will be running all over the yard eating the bad bugs and pooping out good plant food!  I've been dreaming of chickens or ducks for years, hopefully by the end of this summer, or next.


     Now we need a place to cook and eat this food.  The deck is built, but we need nice furniture and perhaps a bar.  The deck has gentle fans to keep mosquitos away, and repurposed sails for sun blocks and privacy screens.  An old boat is docked next to the deck and is used as a planter.  We have a slight nautical theme for this deck.  Maybe we'll have a fire pit below the deck, or a brick oven.  There's also a nice front porch with curtains and plants hanging all over.  It will be a nice place to watch the sunset.

     Since I am an herbalist and make teas, there will be many medicinal and culinary herbs growing in gardens and wherever else they might be happy.  Chamomile, echinacea, calendula, yarrow, raspberry, valerian, hops, roses, mints, basil, and a million more!  They might be vertical, or spiral, or just scattered.

     We'll have bees and all kinds of birds and butterflies fluttering around!  We can collect honey and bee pollen from our hives.  This might take a while since I first have to get over my fear of bees.
     We have a bat box, but in our dreams, bats actually live there!  We put two up there because one just wasn't big enough!
     We have a small greenhouse.  But in our dreams it is heated!  Then we won't have to lug huge pots of aloe and citrus in and out every year.
     We have rain barrels set up to help with the watering.  We might need to add some more in other places.  There will be lots of plants needing water!
     We'll have an aquaponics setup.  Maybe tilapia are in there.  Maybe ducks are swimming around.  Probably a dog will jump in at times to cool down.
     We'll have to use vertical arrangements to fit more in.
The back yard is very private with all kinds of edibles or medicinals growing everywhere, forming fences and walls.  Winding pathways guide you throughout the yard into little pockets of heaven.  It's definitely not a huge yard.  But every space will be used but not overcrowded.  Much of the building materials will be re-used or re-purposed.  Paradise on a quarter acre!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

How it all started

     It's funny how things just come together sometimes.  I'm new to blogging, and never even really read one, let alone follow one.  I felt I had things to share, ideas, mistakes, lessons, and so a blog just made sense.  Hopefully it will also be a way to practice writing.  Being new to this blog world, I decided to go out and see what other people were doing.  In this search, I came across You Grow Girl. I was so excited to then find Grow Write Guild!  I definitely don't have any problem with material to write about.  There's years of stories and gardening and DIY stuff to write about.  I could write a couple thousand pages.  But who wants to read all of that.  I needed FOCUS!
     The first topic is to talk about what got you into gardening.  Once again, funny how things come together as I was just thinking about this and talking to friends about it.  The problem is, they have a story.  They remember the first tomato they grew or the first houseplant they didn't kill.  I feel like for me, it all just fell into place.
     I don't remember how it all started, but I remember having plants in my bedroom.  My mother always had some houseplants and I do have memories of being out in her garden when I was very small.  I don't think she had much time for a garden once my sister was born, so I was probably only a few years old.  I remember it looking huge!  Everything is huge when you're small.  Earthworms looked like snakes.  Or maybe they were snakes?
     Back to that bedroom.  My room was on the southeast corner of the house.  It was always warm and sunny.  Somehow my room became the plant hospital.  If a houseplant was sick or not doing well, it ended up on a little table or in the windowsill and I would nurse it back to health.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I did it right.  I loved those plants.  I don't even remember what they were now, but they were loved!  This must have been middle school or high school.
     In elementary school, I remember my sister coming home with seedlings she started.  One was even a tomato that went to space!  But why do I only remember her plants?  Did I never get to do these projects?  Or was it just that a space tomato can make everything else seem like nothing?
     What I do know is that by the time I was 12, I was in the back yard digging up the grass in the back yard for a veggie garden.  It was nowhere near as big as the one I remember my mother having, but it was huge for a kid who wouldn't eat a vegetable to save her life.  And I mean that.  My father used to tell me at dinner, "You'll die in your sleep tonight if you don't eat those vegetables."  My mother took a different approach and told me the vegetables were sad and crying because I didn't want them.  Death was not scary to me.  Making a vegetable sad was just horrifying.
     I grew tomatoes, and zucchini for sure.  Over the years my garden got a little bigger to fit some herbs.  I'm sure there were other veggies too.  I remember tilling the garden every year only to find more and more rocks.  It was amazing how I could pull these large rocks out, and still have to do it again the next year!  We had a rock bed near the veggie bed from all those rocks we pulled out. It still blows my mind when I think about this.  Geology is a magical thing!
     Soon I was helping a friend start a garden in her yard.  We must have been 13 or 14, the two of us digging and digging.  We didn't pick the best spot.  It was surrounded by trees or shrubs and those roots were just exhausting!  We finally got it done and got some seeds and plants in the ground.  I'm happy to say that she still remembers this garden too.  I don't know if she's still gardening, but she did go on to become a nutritionist.  I like to think there is some connection there!
    I survived not eating veggies, and now I eat them all (although you'll probably never find cauliflower in my back yard).  I've had many gardens now from Mass to Chicago, Southern Cal, to the Jersey Shore, and there will be many more.  I'm lucky to share this garden with someone who enjoys it as much as I do.  His story is different, but we end in the same edible paradise.  He was even out there today starting beds for potatoes in the snow!  It still feels like winter, but we have our seeds planted for this summers garden, which will be our best one yet! Until next year, that is.