Why I think I Know Enough About Gardening to Write a Book About It

broccoliSince before the beginning of the year as you know, I have been working on a number of articles on Hubpages on the subject of gardening. In the process, I have been rewriting the information and adding additional topics in creating my book Simply Vegetable Gardening different from and more informative than anything that I have online.

You may wonder why I think that I know enough about gardening to write a book about it. Well, I started gardening, specifically organic gardening over 40 years ago when I was twelve years old in my parent’s backyard. I didn’t have much money to work with, so I learned to use what I had. I learned to use what many people would consider garbage, but that the earthworms and other subterranean flora and fauna considered food. I learned that a fancy compost bin wasn’t necessary. Bury household garbage in the ground and in less than a week, where there had been garbage now contained a large earthworm population. I graduated high school, joined the military, and after getting married and having my first son, I had another backyard garden, this time instead of the sandy loam of my mother’s backyard in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I was practically starting my garden on a beach on the Virginia coast. The soil was sand, no loam. I began adding household garbage to that garden as well. Because it was a warmer climate and the soil wasn’t that good, I made the garden smaller and by the time my tour of duty was completed, my garden soil looked fantastic. Next I moved to the Missouri Ozarks where I lived on a commune for several years. There I learned even more about organic gardening. I learned that it was possible to eat what I grew in the garden. While I lived there, I learned that what many people thought was true really wasn’t. Sawdust could be used as mulch in the garden without poisoning the soil. Sawdust just needs to be aged a couple of years before using. After leaving the commune, I lived on rental properties and at every different home, I built another small, organic garden on soil that I often joked would only grow rocks. Every time I left, I had to leave the soil I had created. I learned one thing from all this, mixing my household garbage in the form of compost into my soil worked magic on any soil. It didn’t matter if the garden was already loam, sand, clay or rocks. It didn’t matter. organic soil was the answer to improving any soil type.  In a sense, I had become a Johnny (or should I say Joannie?) Appleseed of organic gardens.

A few years ago, I was in nursing school and one day I was reading an old book by J. I. Rodale from the 1950s which he had written about organic gardening. At the same time, I was studying my anatomy and physiology book and studying about the human cell. Talk about an epiphany! Reading the information in tandem as I was, I discovered that many significant similarities existed between the human cell and the actions of a compost pile. What I realized was that just because we add nutrients to the soil, does not mean that those nutrients will be accessible by the plants in the area. Thinking of the processes of the earth as chemistry, was not accurate at all. As I compared the various organisms of the compost pile and the earth in general with the human body, I realized the synergy that occurs between the various organisms. One cell in the human body had a synergistic and interdependent connection with every other cell. In addition, in the earth, as in the human body a buffering system exists which creates homeostasis. A compost pile will start out acidic, but if allowed to mellow, will neutralize if given the proper elements with which to work. The processes of the earth are biological, not chemical. It is as though, just as the human body is made up of billions of individual cells, because of countless organisms on our planet all working together, earth is truly a living breathing organism.

Though I came upon that realization on my own, I am not alone in this perception nor was I the first to think this way. In 1978, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren came up with the word permaculture which stands for “permanent culture,” as it was seen that social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable system that included humans dealing with nature on its own terms. It is certainly how I see this relationship between the earth and her inhabitants. This idea was inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming philosophy. During the past few years I have also been studying the principles of this philosophy.

On This Date in History as It Relates to the American Revolution

On this Date in 1765, the Britain enacted Quartering Act, required colonists to provide temporary housing to British soldiers. This was a very significant event not only in history, but also in my book Soldiers Don’t Cry, The Locket Saga Continues. When Phillip returns to Boston as a British officer in 1774, he is quartered at the home of Peter Mayford, a Boston merchant. Phillip specifically positioned himself into that home because he wanted to rekindle a friendship with a young friend that he had met when he was a young orphan boy in the American backwoods. When he is reintroduced after many years to his friend, Elizabeth Thorton, also an orphan living with her sister’s family, he is smitten by her beauty. Little does he know, Elizabeth was spying for the organizers of the uprising that the British government had assigned him to subdue.

If you haven’t yet received your copy of Vegetable Gardening in the Shade, do so now by clicking on this link and receive a subscription to my newsletter Cygnet’s News as well. In this newsletter, you will be able to keep up with events that I will be attending, updates on my books, and articles that bring the conflict of the American Revolution to life as well as timely gardening tips from what to plant, how to plant it using organic methods, how to keep it growing and how to use it after harvest.

Happy President’s Day

On February 17, 1776, the first volume of Gibbon’s “Decline & Fall of Roman Empire” was published. A few months later on July 4, 1776, a new empire was born which was to become known as the United States. This new empire didn’t seem to have a mother, but it did have fathers. Founding fathers, that is. Among these founding fathers were five men who eventually became the first five presidents of the United States.

George Washington-The First President of the United States

George Washington-The First President of the United States

Back in the 1880s, when the birthday of Washington—commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution as well as the first American Preside—was first celebrated as a national holiday. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill, which moved several national holidays to Mondays. This change was designed to schedule certain holidays which enabled the labor force to have more long weekends throughout the year, but it has been opposed by those who believe that those holidays should be celebrated on the dates they commemorated. During Congressional debate, someone proposed that Washington’s Birthday be renamed Presidents’ Day in honor of all presidents.

At first, Congress rejected the name change, but when the bill went into effect in 1971, Presidents’ Day had became the commonly accepted name. Retailers had picked up on the name and it stuck.  This holiday on the third Monday of February is marked by public ceremonies throughout the country.

John Adams-The Second President of the United States

John Adams-The Second President of the United States

The second President of the United States was John Adams. Although he rose in popularity due to his opposition to the Stamp Act of  1765, he didn’t believe in violence and against popular opinion he had defended in court the soldiers tried for their participation in what we Americans now call the Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770.

He became one of the men assigned to help draft the Declaration of Independence in 1776. In 1785 he became the first US minister to England. He became the first US Vice President and served from 1789-1796. He became the second President of the United States and served from 1796-1800. Thomas Jefferson

Another founding father became the third president of the United States was Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, a plantation owner from Virginia was the author of the Declaration of Independent.  After writing the Declaration of Independence, served from 1776-1779 in the  Virginia House of Delegates.After which he was elected Virginia’s second governor. After the death of his wife in 1785, he became the second US minister to France. He returned to America in 1789 and became the first US Secretary of State under the new Constitution. In 1797 he became the Vice President under John Adams and in 1800 he was elected President of the United States. In 1803 his most significant accomplishment as president was the Louisiana Purchase which nearly doubled the size of the country. After his presidency ended in 1809, he returned to his plantation where he died on July 4, 1826, (the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence)  just a few hours after John Adams died.

The fourth president of the United States was James Madison. He wrote the first drafts of the US Constitution, in 1787,  co-wrote the Federalist Papers in 1788 and sponsored the Bill of Rights in 1789. In 1800 he helped President Thomas Jefferson establish the Democrat-Republican Party. He became the fourth President of the United States in 1808. James Madison

James Madison wrote the first drafts of the U.S. Constitution, co-wrote the Federalist Papers and sponsored the Bill of Rights. He established the Democrat-Republican Party with President Thomas Jefferson, and became president himself in 1808. Madison initiated the War of 1812, because US merchant ships where preyed upon by pirates and England and France were seizing US ships and crew. This first US declared war ended in 1815 after the Battle of New Orleans commanded by Andrew Jackson. After Madison’s second term ended, he retired from politics to his Montpelier estate in Virginia where he died on June 28, 1836.

The fifth President of the United States, James Monroe was the last of President who was a founding father. He fought in the American Revolution where he was wounded during the Battle of Trenton. James MonroeHe studied under Thomas Jefferson from 1780-1783 and served as a delegate in the Continental Congress. He was an anti-federalist delegate to the Virginia convention assigned to consider the ratification of the Constitution of the United States. He was elected to the United States Senate in 1790 and helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. He was the Secretary of State and the Secretary of War during the War of 1812. He became President of the United States in 1816. He drew a line in the sand against European intervention against the independent countries in the Americans with his Monroe Doctrine in 1823. He died was the third one to die on Independence day. He died on July 4, 1831 in New York.

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Almost every religion in the world follows this line of thinking. What goes around comes around. Its the idea that there is a set of rules that we must follow. If we do something good or bad to someone else eventually, good will win out in the end.  There’s Karma, reaping what you sow, and the “law of reciprocity”. We all want there to be rules and we all want those who don’t play by the rules to get penalized.  If heaven or hell did not exist, we would invent it because we don’t see the evil being judged in the world. It also explains the desire for reincarnation. Obviously, life isn’t always fair, so perhaps the fairness comes in the after life. It is those times, however, that this “law” does seem to show up in the world that renews our faith in the idea that we “reap what we sow”.

This Day in History As it Relates to the American Revolution

Sometimes history bears this philosophy out. For instance, on this date February 10, 1763, Treaty of Paris ends French-Indian War, surrendering Canada to England. Just over 20 years later, in 1783, at another Treaty of Paris, Great Britain gave up 13 colonies which became the independent country of The United States. The French got back at England by becoming the first allies of the new Nation, The United States in 1777 and then helped the Americans defeat the British in the American Revolution. The French did not own The United States, but rather it became an ally and would remain one until this day. This alliance between France and the United States would be repaid during World War I and World War II when the United States allied with France (among others) against Germany.

Is Reciprocity Really a Law?

Of course, incidents such as this may seem to indicate the validity of the idea that “what goes around comes around”, but such is not always the case. We can look at any number of incidents where it simply is not true. A peace loving civilization is annihilated by a vicious  foe. Where is their justice? What about when a child is abused or murdered and the killer goes free? Is that fair? That is where the thoughts that there is a  judgment day coming can bring solace to someone who has been victimized. We would like to believe that someday, that person will receive payment for their horrific deeds.

Another problem comes when we try to justify our own faults. What another person does is horrible, but we when we do the same things, we find ways to rationalize our own wrongs as simply mistakes. Perhaps, we explain that there were “extenuating circumstances”.

Is there a day of reckoning coming. I hope that if there is, I pray that whatever I did wrong in this life would be dealt with mercy rather than judgment. I pray that everyone else has mercy too. I am not here to judge anyone. I am here to love.

“Blessed are the Merciful for they shall obtain Mercy.”

Proving My Worth So Others Will Believe It

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”—     Theodore Roosevelt

When I started this blog, I didn’t know where I was going with it. I just knew that I had things to share. I simply decided that I was going to allow my words in this blog take me wherever they would. I have taken these words of Theodore Roosevelt to heart. I am doing what I can, with what I have, where I am. I am not stressing about it, I am not worried about my next post, I am simply writing what I have to say when I have it to say. I am writing what I know.

All my life I have had it thrown into my face all the reasons that I couldn’t do something. In some ways it made it easy. I couldn’t do something because. . . whatever, and that was that. Life went on mediocre as ever. It was always, someday, maybe, but not now. Those excuses kept me in my place. What I wanted was somewhere out in the future because the excuses were there to protect me from danger. Oh, I have had my moments when I would step out of my shell. Like the time when I was twenty. I quit my boring job and went to California on a bus and arrived in LA at 3 am and didn’t know a soul there. That was an adventure. I stayed there two days and those two days changed my life, for a while, anyway. For the next six months I focused on what I hoped would be a writing career, but my parents said that I needed to get real and get a job. After a few months of hearing that, I got the job. I allowed myself to be pushed back down into that box. I’m certain you know what box I am talking about,  the box was labeled “The Right Thing to Do”. The problem was, I had been outside that box and had a glimpse of what life could be if I allowed myself to do what I could with what I have where I am. I have never liked that box. I’ve never really fit into it.  I do however like what happens to me when I decide to step out of the box to discover what I am capable of doing. Perhaps I should take a page out of the book of our founding fathers and recognize that before others will see who we are, we have to defend where we see ourselves.

Today in History As It Relates to the American Revolution

This day in history in 1783, Spain recognized United States Independence from Great Britain. Although the United States officially declared its independence from Great Britain, other countries didn’t recognize the country until years later. France was the first to recognize it. France officially recognized US Independence on February 6, 1778 and sent ammunition and supplies to the new country in order to help the US secure its right to call itself a free and independent country. Spain recognized the United States when they recognized that the war was over and the United States had won its right to freedom.


The official date that the US declared independence from Great Britain was July 4, 1776. Other countries did not officially recognize it until years later.

Two days after Spain recognized the United States as an independent country, Sweden also recognized the US. Great Britain, of course, officially recognized the United States as an independent country on September 3, 1783 when both Great Britain and the United States signed the Treaty of Paris.

Other countries did not recognize the US until the Americans had decided for several years that they were separate from Great Britain. Perhaps this is a lesson that I also must learn. I must declare my independence and see myself outside of the box that keeps me from being the best that I can be.

Focusing on Finishing What I Start

Now that I am pretty back to health, I have been focusing on catching up with those things that I got behind on last week. Surprisingly, in most activities, I have not only caught up, but I also was able to proactively get ahead in some areas. Last Friday I wrote this week’s This day in History as It Relates to the American Revolution which made this week’s blogs easy to finish. After the success that I had because they were done Friday, I intend to continue to write them on Friday. All this helps me stick to my resolution to focus on finishing what I have started.

I have been making it a point to keep up with household chores by doing a few things every day. Making my bed, picking up any laundry, washing, drying, folding, and putting away a load or two of clothes every day is a lot easier for me than trying to catch up on numerous loads on Saturday morning. Rather than putting off the dishes until this morning, last night I rinsed them and put them in the dishwasher. This morning I did up the breakfast dishes. Because I didn’t need to catch up with last night’s supper dishes, I had the time to clean out the refrigerator. All this before noon. So far so good.

As far as writing goes, last night I worked on a school project that is due today and write several pages in my novel A Coward’s Solace and the articles for this week are done as well. Over the weekend I worked on two nonfiction booklets that I intend to have done by the middle of next month so that I can post them in kindle as well as in print. I haven’t done anything with Dad’s poem book in a few weeks, I put out some requests for other family members to respond to what I have written, but I haven’t heard anything back. Things seem to be moving along according to schedule, though.

This Day in History As It Relates to the American Revolution

On this day in January 29, 1777, Major General William Heath and his army of 6,000 men abandon their siege on Fort Independence, in Bronx County, New York because bitter cold and a surprise counter assault by the British and an approaching snow storm made it impossible for the poor clad colonials to continue the siege.

George Washington had given Heath orders to assault Fort Independence eleven days earlier on January 18. Washington was under attack in nearby New Jersey and believed that if Heath could defeat the British at Fort Independence, the British would be forced to divert troops from New Jersey to defend the outpost located just outside British-controlled Manhattan.Fort Independence Park Marker

The Patriots had first built Fort Independence in 1776 then burned it when they were forced to evaluate New York. The British partly rebuilt it when they took control later in the year.

A cloudburst on January 25 flooded the Bronx River making it nearly impossible for Patriot troop movement. Teh counter assault and the pending snowstorm forced retreat on January 29, 1777. The fort survived the Patriot’s attack in 1777, but when the British left the fort in 1779, they destroyed the fort.. The British partially rebuilt the fort when they took control later in the year. The fort endured the Patriots’ attack in 1777, but was destroyed again as the British left in 1779 . The city park that now exists on the site memorializes the fort on its front gates, as well as in its name.

Today the location of Fort Independence is a park in Bronx, New York.

Today the location of Fort Independence is a park in Bronx, New York.

Springfield Writers Guild, Aux Arcs, and Benjamin Franklin in Paris

I Attended my First Springfield Writer’s Guild meeting on

Saturday, January 25,2014

This past week I joined the Springfield Writer’s Guild at the Heritage Cafeteria here in Springfield, MO. I probably should have gone to the mentor hour that they had, but instead I just went to listen to this month’s speaker and to get a feel for the organization. I met one woman who doesn’t live very far from where I do. I hope to see her again next month. This month’s speaker was Joyce Ragland, Ed.D., her latest book Dread the FRED. She talked about how she used creative nonfiction to write this book and how she gathered the information that she needed to write the book.

After the speaker, they conducted the business meeting and then there was a drawing where various authors gave books as door prizes. I was one of the winners and I received a book Aux Arc Black and White of Photography of the Ozarks by Carl James. Beautiful photo book that I will cherish for many years to come. Though the photos are black and white, I can see how I will be able to use many of the pictures as writing prompts.

I was surprised how organized the guild is and how many people attended the meeting. I look forward to coming back next month and continuing to network with others who have like passions. I look forward to next month’s meeting.

This Day In History as it Relates to the American Revolution

While George Washington and his men were held up at Valley Forge, it is possible that 70-year-old Benjamin Franklin attended the premiere of Piccinni’s opera “Roland” in Paris on this date in 1778.

piccinni roland operaBut Franklin had not gone to Paris as a social outing. He had gone on a life or death mission. His own life and the life of the other patriots hinged on convincing the French to side with the Americans against the British. The French greeted him, the American celebrity with open arms and wondered what had brought this world famous scientist to their shores. What had brought him was the fact that the newly declared citizens of America had little ammunition, no money, no credit, and no common cause and that he knew that because the French were enemies with Great Britain, perhaps they would be happy to recognize and become friends with the newly self-proclaimed independent county.

Fortunately for Franklin, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been waiting for such an opportunity. They had been poised for an American revolt longer than the colonies had even considered one. If the American could convince them that the Americans were worthy English foes, they were willing to give the fledgling country a chance.

Franklin danced around the facts as well as with  French debutantes. He was able to convince the French that the British would need a 200 thousand man army to subdue the Americans. He made it sound as though the American Continental Army was not the rag tag army that it was. That it had repositioned itself to fight on indefinitely and by spring would become a strong force of 89 thousand expertly trained men. He alluded that as the British pushed into the continent, the more the countryside would push back.

The truth was, gunpowder had to be severely rationed and Washington commanded only 14 thousand barely clad, poorly fed men. If Franklin did not succeed on his mission, British would have won and the Patriot cause would have been dead along with its leadership. The diplomatic expertise that Franklin demonstrated went beyond the desperation of the circumstances, it was sheer brilliance.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Organizing My Computer Space

me_on_the_laptopThis weekend, I rid my inbox of of the thousands of emails. I followed the organizing program of schedule, delete or delegate. I didn’t delegate anything, but I did delete a lot and there were a few that because I had kept them for a reason, I took the time in my schedule to view them and to do what ever it was I needed to do with them before I either deleted those as well. Some I stored them in an email folder. Others I took the information that I wanted from them and cut and pasted information into a word document folder. The videos I watched took notes and then deleted the email. I also cleared out my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday folders some of which contained information dating back to August.

Since this has been a long weekend with the holiday and all, I learned how to use OneNote a Microsoft program that I have had on my computer since I got it three years ago. I found this video especially informative.

This Day in History

From the Headlines of the American Revolution

David HenleyToday I have started a new section in this blog called this day in history. Because events of The Locket Saga series is currently set in the revolutionary war period, this day in history relates to the American Revolution.

On this date in 1778, the first American Court Martial began. David Henley, a Continental Army officer who served as George Washington’s intelligence officer and Prisoner of War Commandant, was Colonel of the Massachusetts. He was commander in Cambridge, Massachusetts when the troops captured at Saratoga were brought to Cambridge. General Burgoyne (captured general) brought charges of cruelty against him for how he treated British prisoners. Court Martial proceedings began against him on this date and lasted until February 25. He was exonerated. British General Burgoyne challenged him to a duel, which was to occur in Bermuda. Henley accepted the challenge, but never showed up in Bermuda. Instead,he served as the American intelligence chief.  Henley later served as the Agent for the United States Department of War for the Southwest Territory, which later became the state of Tennessee in the 1790s. Imagine if the Americans lost the revolution. How do you think things would have been different?

Now that my emails are cleared,  next weekend, I want to out the book marks that I have accumulated over the past three years. I want to go back and save the URLs to specific folders in my One Note so that when I want to look at specific topics, I will have related URLs all in one place.

Who else has been busy organizing this month? Anyone else have any good ideas on how to organize bookmarks on the computer for easy access? I would love to hear about it. What is your opinion of the new feature This Day in History, Headlines from the American Revolution. I would love to hear from you.