Merlot Mudpies

Can a blog be about gardening, cancer, family, food and life all at the same time? Oh good.

You thought a roach motel was bad… January 12, 2011

Filed under: garden,Gardening,learning,Organic Gardening — Mary @ 12:06 am

How about a worm palace? I’ve got one!

So a cool tidbit of information for those of you in North County: Most likely, your city will subsidize the purchase of a worm bin for you. The Solona Center seems to be the place to go — I had about three people tell me about it when we began to plan our move and my experience there was a breeze. If you have proof that you live in San Diego County, you can purchase a bin for $40.00 cash or check.

I forgot to bring proof of my residency, but the cuteness of my children convinced them I had to be a good egg and they gave me mine for the $35.00 for Encinitas residents…Adorableness pays, my friends! (I also got a discount at the post office today because, I quote, “That is a sweet cute baby.” But that’s another story.)

Ahem…back to my worm bin.

I was excited to get my bin home

Then I started to read the instructions and got a little worried I was in over my head

But reason prevailed and finally, finally, I had the worm bin put together
(this was so pitifully easy…I really got confused before I needed to.)

Tomorrow morning I will go to Jan’s house. Jan is a lovely lady I stopped at Home Depot to ask about raspberries. This is something I love about gardeners. They love to share their excitement and help you get started. In conversation I mentioned that I was going to be getting a worm bin (not knowing she had one of her own). She immediately offered me worms. How’s that for some light introductory conversation? “Hey, I have worms! Want some?” However, given the fact that a pound of worms from a supplier is $25.00, I’m thrilled to take free worms!

I’ll post the introduction of our new little pets into their home tomorrow morning. I’ve already been instructed by Ryan to keep my worms to myself. So clearly he wants me to blog about them instead.


Keeping with the theme of things in my car… January 9, 2011

Filed under: garden,Gardening,Organic Gardening — Mary @ 11:43 pm

When my mom died we had grand schemes to offer her unused pots on craigslist or something, but we never did quite get around to it. I consider it providence because I’m so happy to have a good number of those pots here with me now in our new home. I really should start a category titled, “What I can fit in a 2001 Honda CR-V.” Man, I love this car. If not for the fact that we are at max capacity for seats with two small kids, I’d go right out and get another when this one eventually gives up the ghost. What’s in there, you ask?

  • a baby crib
  • a mattress
  • a jumperoo
  • a carnation crate (best kid’s planting box EVER)
  • 12 bricks (i’ll explain later)
  • two rocks i remember digging out of a river bed for my mother when she was on chemo (i think i’ve written about that, i’ll have to check.
  • about 12 giant pots
  • an herb box
  • Hmmm…I think there’s more that I’m forgetting but let’s just say pulling into my driveway was more of an adventure than usual and that my car kinda squeaks when it’s loaded super heavily. You learn something new every day!

    I now have pots large enough to plant my dwarf meyer lemon and dwarf lime trees for our front patio. I have pots for just about anything at all I don’t want to plant in the ground and more where those came from. Dad, my mother-in-law and I spent a happy hour cleaning them all off and loading them into my car.

    Eamonn, delighted with the Carnation crate, helped me turn soil in our two front planter boxes in exchange for a box full of soil and compost. As I scooped it around I asked, “Eamonn, did you know this soil is actually poop? Cow poop, actually.” His eyes got large and happy. What was this? Mom talking about poop?? Poop being openly discussed outside of the bathroom where normally all poop talk is imprisoned? A banner day! “Really? Gross….why??” I explained that it’s good for plants. And went on to explain, “And then worms will eat in it and they’ll poop it too…so it’s like double poop for our plants! Cool, huh?” He was an old hand at that part…darn PBS Kids for stealing my thunder. “Oh, yeah,” he said, just on the verge of sounded jaded at 4.5 years old, “worm poop is tooootally good for plants. I know all about that…”

    He spent five minutes dumping a full packet of sunflower seeds and carrot seeds into his box. Oh well, something’s bound to grow…right?

    In the meantime I’ve got my red, romain, and arugala starts in. I alternated with rows of seeds so we can work on having a continuous harvest. Now I have to figure out my other box which I think will contain asparagus, onions and garlic which I seem to recall should do well all planted together…I need to verify that.

    Pictures of all the “befores” to come along with my plans for both front and back planting areas along with desperate pleas for help with roses which I now have but have NO idea about. All I know is they’re horribly overgrown but wonderfully fragrant.

    And oh boy, wait until you see the baby in her jumparoo.


Buzzy Bees and Gargening Again…FINALLY! July 21, 2009

Filed under: family,garden,Gardening,love,stories,thanks — Mary @ 9:24 pm
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Tomorrow I’m heading over to break ground at my new garden site — the back yard of a family friend.  It’s closer to us (less than a mile), has an enclosed yard, and is one block from the beach:  A good treat for my son when he’s been with me as I garden.  I have a rototiller to put together and beds to measure out and I just simply MUST put in my tomatoes which have been languishing in pots outside our apartment for three weeks now.

Is this odd?  I’m approaching this with much trepidation.  Getting started on a garden is just so much work.  But at the same time, I’m thrilled to death to get going on it.  It’s been a long time coming and my fingers are itching for soil.  My final inspiration was sitting in our living room last night after the tomatoes were watered.  I could smell them and the window fan was actually pulling the scent of them into the room on cool air after the heat of the day.  The ache for green is officially irresistible!

I’ll dig out my box of seed tomorrow and figure out what to start, as well.  Although we’re in a weird month to start growing.  I’ll have to pull up my old planting charts for this area, as well.

Before and after pictures will come, of course.

Last night as I finished up some work before bed, I listened to my husband and son in my son’s room.  My husband had gone in to cuddle him before he went to sleep.  The conversation went like this:

“I love you, Buddy.”

“I love you, too, Honey.”

“Hey!  I’m not your honey!”

“Oh yes you aaaarrree!”

“I’m not your honey…I’m daddy!”

“NO!  Your my honey!” (Accompanied by the beginnings of giggles.)

“Oh yeah?  Well…do you know who LOVES honey??”



And then there was the most screechingly delightful round of tickles giggles and belly laughs heard in recent history. The perfect lullaby.

I am tremendously, infinitely, completely blessed.


Why I Don’t Have a Garden to Post About June 26, 2009

Filed under: garden,Gardening,ivey ranch,loss,thanks — Mary @ 9:45 pm

Some of you might have noticed that I haven’t said anything about my garden for awhile.  That’s because I don’t have one right now.  As much as it broke my heart, I had to give C10 and B10 up this year.  The drive was getting overwhelming (it could be a long one in traffic), I was having trouble keeping Eamonn interested, and the rates were raised this year. 

Ivey Ranch is extremely reasonable in its rental rates — so much so that it’s almost embarrassing to say we just couldn’t swing them this year.  But, with our budget and because we used the garden plots to save money on food (and therapy!), it financially just wasn’t feasible anymore.  With tearful farewells, I bid goodbye to my plot mates and donated what garden items I couldn’t use anymore to a swee set of German retired couples who had come out to start plots of their own.

The great blessing in this is that I will be starting a new garden this July.  It’s free, it’s within walking distance if I want, and it is in a contained yard where Eamonn is free to run and play.  A very good friend of our family, Murray, has kindly donated the space in his yard to me and even worked to clear out planting room.  I am contractually obligated to pay him in salsa.

So, that’s why you aren’t hearing about Ivey Ranch these days.  I miss it.  But mostly I just miss the folks and some of them I couldn’t have back even if I was still there.


Starting Seeds March 4, 2009

Filed under: garden,Gardening,Organic Gardening,zucchini — Mary @ 9:44 am

Waiting for seeds is like waiting for Christmas.  The anticipation is building in our house right now while little peat pots sit quietly in their makeshift greenhouses waiting to sprout.  I’ve only got 25 pots going right now.  I tried to restrain myself.  And I’m finding that this year, again, I’ll probably rely on starts that I purchase instead of only just growing from seed.  The Heirloom Tomato Sale starts in just a week or two at Hawthorne’s Country Store.  Their supplier loves his plants.  I feel good buying from him.  He’s the one who encouraged me to try Sungold even though they are a hybrid.  I loved them.  I had them coming out my ears last year.  But I’m going to plant two this time.  It’s like having a candy plant.  But the fruit is nutritious!  Eamonn just started liking tomatoes this year so I’m looking forward to eating tomatoes off the vines with him — an unfulfilled vision from last year’s first season of Planting With Toddler.

Speaking of toddlers…my little baby is not so baby anymore.  He’ll be 3 this month and he’s a lot more content in the garden these days.  I’ll be preparing him his own little garden bed this week that he can walk in all he wants without mommy hollering, “DOWN ON THE PATH!  AUGH! THOSE ARE CARROTS!  GET DOWN!”  He started some seeds with me, too.  4 sunflowers, one pot of Brandywine tomatoes (I think…mommy forgot to label his), and one pot of green beans.  The green bean is already starting to peek its little sprout head through the soil.

He’s a very professional gardener, my guy:


Eamonn starts seeds while wearing his special gardening goggles.

Eamonn starts seeds while wearing his special gardening goggles.

My seed chart.  You can see some of the varieties in there:


Lots of tomatoes and a few other odds and ends

Lots of tomatoes and a few other odds and ends

My pots.  My lovely little pots.


My pots prepped and seeded, waiting for the growth to begin.

My pots prepped and seeded, waiting for the growth to begin.

Along with Black Krim, Costoluto, Persimmon, Brandywine, Jubiliee and Orange Flamme tomatoes, I’m starting two yellow crook neck squash (no more than that this time…I learned my lesson!) and some cucumbers…Armenians, I think.  Trust me, many pictures will be taken of my babies when they pop their heads up for the first time.  

I’m finding it’s not Eamonn who’s having to be warned off of lifting the lids off the greenhouses 20 times a day…Starting seeds forces patience on the impatient gardener.


Because it’s been so long… February 19, 2009

Filed under: garden,Gardening,ivey ranch,Organic Gardening,weeds — Mary @ 5:32 pm

I know you’ve been pining for some before and afters.  I KNOW you have!

Well, you have to watch the vid from yesterday to see B10 as I found it after 4 months of neglect.  Here it is after about two hours yesterday:

Here it is after a few hours today:

We sowed (is that right?  sowed?  it seems wrong…oh well.  so does seeded.) two kinds of beets, carrots, three kinds of lettuce and arugala today.  I was also delighted to find my mint, thyme, lemon thyme and oregano all flourishing in spite of my neglect when I fought through the nettles surrounding them today.  I was so delighted when I discovered them all waiting there that I greeted them out loud.  Oh well, there was no one there to hear me but them.

This weekend will be more meticulous clean-up and I’ll also have a go in C10, which is equally overgrown.  Thankfully, there seem to be fewer nettles in that plot.  They’re bigger, sturdier weeds (babies of the veritable weed trees i was pulling when i first got these plots last year), but the ground is soft from the rain, which helps.  So I’m jumping on them as quickly as I can before the sun bakes them any more.

If I tried to write about how pleased I am right now, I’d just write gibberish.  But my heart feels lighter than it has in months.


Over Wintering February 18, 2009

Over Wintering

Originally uploaded by merlot

I visited B10 and C10 for the first time in about 4 months today. Driving home it suddenly dawned on me that all this that happened was only last year. It seems like a life time ago. When I started this blog my mom was still alive and I still thought I had months left with her, if not years.

You can’t return to a plot you didn’t over-winter well and not pay. I am covered in nettle stings and dirt. Eamonn is sleeping off a mud high and I keep smiling at his little mud-covered galoshes on the floor.

I had to leave Ivey Ranch for a while. That sounds so emotional and dramatic. But I did. I needed to let it grow over and weed up and die back. And it has.

Here is a preview video of what’s to come over the next weeks with Spring right around the corner.

You know, a lot is going on when a plot just sits. There is so much stuff happening under the surface. And then it just bursts out with the coming of spring. Water and light give life and everything begins to stir. Digging my hands down into the soil today I considered a picture of myself. I was so happy to be there today.

Apparently I just can’t pull a weed or grow a tomato without getting lost in the quiet splendor of it all and I’m so happy to be starting in again. I’m so thankful that the world works this way.  I’m so thankful to experience and see it all.


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