It's been three months since I posted. I don't know about you, but I've been too busy trying to keep everything, including myself and Charlie, alive in this awful heat.  This  has been the year of the tomato for me and the Garland Community Garden. We've had quite a harvest of tomatoes. As for Okra?  Well it is just now at the first of August beginning to produce even a little.  To say that okra pods are as scarce as hen's teeth  would be giving it too much credit.  Below is a photo of okra growing in an 8, five-gallon bucket holder that Charlie made. As you can see, the plants are nothing to brag about.  We also have some okra growing in a few of our flower beds.

Basil, unlike okra,  has thrived this year although now it is breaking out into blossom. [If you deadhead the blossoms, your basil will continue to bush out as you can see from this plant I have growing in my front yard.  I have been diligent about snipping off its flowers}.  

Basil plant is three feet tall and 72 inches in circumference.  

Zinnias have done well this year and are still looking beautiful.  In the background is our small orchard/woodland forest garden.  Our peach trees have really taken off this year.  I estimate that so far we have gotten four bushels and there are about as many left on the trees.  I should have gotten out and pull off a few peaches earlier on in the season but was too busy.  However, this year I did finally spray as I should have 1) when dormant 2) when buds break out and 3) right after the blossoms fall.  I used Neem oil.  Low and behold, we have lots of peaches, large ones, and worms are only in a very few of them--less than 5%.

Above is a closeup of one of the branches of one of our four peach trees.  As you can see, it is laden with fruit--so heavy that the branches are bent to the ground.



Jane is a former president of Loving Garland Green and a current board member. Because of the generous donations of Jane and her husband, Bob, the Garland Community Garden has been able to continue as Jane and Bob have been footing the major part of the bill for our water for the past five years. Jane’s mother was an avid gardener as well as many other things.  This story is about her and a tribute to her memory.

Laura Link Allison was born on July 18, 1930, in Shreveport, LA to the late Horace Richmond Allison, Sr. and Laura Lesby Elona Link Allison. She graduated from Carthage High School as Valedictorian of the Class of 1947. [That must be where Jane got her smarts as she grew up to be a microbiologist.]  Laura attended Texas Women’s University where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree and later worked towards a post-graduate degree. She also studied for a summer at the Merrill Palmer Institute for Child and Family Development in Detroit, MI. Laura earned a Master’s Degree in Education at Stephen F. Austin State University. She enjoyed a long teaching career at Milford, Carthage, and Beckville school districts as well as Stephen F. Austin State University before retirement. Laura married Henry Grady Shivers, Jr. on Aug. 24, 1951, at the First Methodist Church in Carthage.

Laura was very skilled and thoroughly enjoyed many types of sewing, embroidery, garments, smocking, tatting, and heirloom sewing. She was an excellent cook and truly enjoyed perusing cookbooks. Laura was very generous with her family and her community. She was dearly loved and is fondly remembered by all. Like many mothers, Laura made a difference in the lives of many--from the children she taught to the adults in her community.

Laura, like many of her generation, knew the importance of saving seeds, and save them she did. Jane recently came across a baggie of seeds that her mother had carefully labeled “German Butter Bean (Vining, Pole) Heirlooms (Maybe Alabama Black-eyed Butter beans -1997.

Yes, the seeds were 26 years old. Jane gave them to me and I decided to plant them.  I planted five of the seeds and one of them germinated.  I gave that one to Jane. There were twenty seeds left so I decided to plant them (two to a small pot).  So far eight of these seeds have germinated.


I created a plot for them at the Garland Community Garden yesterday in memory of Jane’s mother, and all gardening mothers as well as all seed savers of the world.

Seed savers are important people and Heirloom, open pollinated seeds are the only kinds of seeds worth saving. In the final analysis, if gardeners only chose hybrid and GMO seeds, our food source (seeds) will totally be in control of a few people.  Some say that we are headed in that direction.  I’m sorry to say, but the evidence does seem to be pointing that way.  Since 1903 we have lost 93 percent of heirloom varieties such as these seeds that Laura saved.

The world needs more gardeners, more heirloom plants and more people like Laura to save the seeds and continue to plant them year after year. 

Thank you, Laura.  You did your part and more.



Growing Edibles and Seed Saving in 2023--News from the Garland Community Garden

This seems is the year for successfully growing things from seed for me and many of us at the Garland Community Garden.  My most successful story are butter bean seeds saved from 1997 that germinated.  I don’t know if it is a law but seed packets always have an expiration selling date which is usually December of the year you purchase them.

Expiration dates are used on seed packaging as a measure of the likelihood that the seeds will be viable. Depending upon the type of seeds, environmental conditions, and the manner in which the seeds have been stored, the germination rate of older seed packets may be greatly impacted. The best storage conditions for seed packets require a dark, dry, and cool location. For this reason, many growers choose to store plant seeds in airtight jars in places such as refrigerators or in cellars or basements. Many may also add rice grains to the jars to discourage the presence of moisture.


There are three general types of seeds: Open Pollinated (heirloom), Hybrid (F1) and GMO.

Open pollinated (OP) seeds are naturally pollinated by wind and bees.  These are seeds of value to be saved from your healthiest plants and replanted. Preserving an heirloom means growing it out, maintaining the variety and sharing its seeds with as many growers as possible.

Hybrid (F1) seeds come from two inbred open pollinated parents bred for specific characteristics.  For example, most of the tomatoes you buy in the chain grocery stores have tough skins.  This is because they were grown from hybrid seed that was developed to create tougher skins for tomatoes so they could still look good after traveling the average 1,500 miles to the shelf in the grocery store.

GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) are typically hybrid plants whose DNA is artificially altered to tolerate higher levels of pesticides/herbicides. n the final analysis, if gardeners only chose hybrid and GMO seeds, our food source (seeds) would totally be in control of a few people.  Some say that we are headed in that direction.  I’m sorry to say, but the evidence does seem to be pointing that way.  Seed banks have not prevented the loss of 93 percent of heirloom varieties since 1903.


The mother of Jane Stroud (board member of Loving Garland Green) saved seeds from some butter bean plants she grew in 1997--26 years ago.  Jane gave them to me in the early spring just for the heck of it.   I planted about five of them and one germinated.  Then a few weeks ago I decided to plant the rest about 10 to 12 in all.  The results are stupendous.  So far, 8 of them have germinated.  I’ll make a special plot for them in the garden along with a sign telling their story and the story of Jane’s mother.



 On May 20, Loving Garland Green will be presenting a Container Gardening Class at the Temporary Location for the downtown Nicholson Library.  The temporary location is at the little building (former Women's Building) across the parking lot from the Central Library. It's called "Central Library Express." And has a large sign to identify it.  You must sign up for the class.  Participants will each get a five-gallon bucket filled with amended soil and an okra transplant. You must sign up at the library prior to attending the event as class is limited.

In preparation for the class, I’ve planted Okra seeds saved from plants grown at the Garland Community Garden last year.



 Tomato suckers are small shoots, or leaves, that sprout out from where the stem and the branch of a tomato plant meet. Although relatively harmless to the plant, suckers don't serve much of a purpose. They can, however, draw energy away from the main stems, decreasing tomato growth so most avid gardeners pinch them off.  I just recently learned that you can plant these suckers in potting mix and grow new tomato plants for the fall.  I tried it and it looks like they are surviving.  I’ll pinch a few more off in mid-June as that is getting closer to the time to start growing tomato seedlings for the fall. 

Tomato Suckers grow  right in the middle of the "v" formed by two branches.  You can break them off
near to the joint and plant them in potting soil to grow more tomato plants.



Some kind soul left several hundred seed packets of heirloom seeds at the garden--all with a last date of December 2022.  We’ve been sharing them with LGG members and others in the community.  One of our members, Margie Rodgers, has planted close to 100 heirloom tomato plants from these seeds, many of which are now growing down at the garden.  In addition, she has shared with others in the community.  I planted and have growing about 10 snow pea plants at the garden.  So far, they have produced over 20 large servings of delicious snow peas.

As transplants become more expensive by the year, seeds and especially locally saved seeds become the best and most economical choice for gardeners.

Apr 20 @ 7:39 pm


Come to the Garland Community Garden and listen to the sounds of the garden.

We need to do much more than pay attention to the earth for one day. Honoring Earth Day this Saturday can be a beginning.
Do you feel generally happier and more peaceful when you’re out in nature, away from noise, traffic jams, and neon lights? It is not just that you left the city behind. Or that you’re a person who likes nature. In nature, you more easily tune into the Earth’s frequency and can restore, revitalize, and heal itself more effectively.
The Earth behaves like a gigantic electric circuit. Its electromagnetic field surrounds and protects all living things with a natural frequency pulsation of 7.83 hertz on average — the so-called “Schumann resonance,” named after physicist Dr. Winfried Otto Schumann, who predicted it mathematically in 1952.
When viewed through the lens of mythology, rather than the theories of science, many origin stories depict a living world that is conceived in sound with each thing having its own vibration. In the beginning was the sound that became the song of the earth, which continues in the whispering of the trees, in the winged nation of birds singing in the skies and in the mysterious incantations of whales in the oceans deep. If you've ever walked through an Aspen forest and listened to the song of its leaves, or walked in a garden and heard the flutter of wings, you know this.
I've been writing haikus for a few years.  Tonight, to honor upcoming Earth Day on Saturday, I wrote my 31st poem.  If I live long enough and get to my 100th haiku, I'll publish a book of them

I wrote a Haiku tonight in honor of Earth Day and took a photo of my lettuce bed at the Garland Community Garden to illustrate it.

listen to the sounds

of large lettuce whispering

wisdom to deaf ears


             Photo taken April 20, 2023 Garland Community Garden - E Berry



Bioplastics are a type of plastic that can be made from natural resources such as vegetable oils and starches. Since bioplastics are plant-based products, the consumption of petroleum for the production of plastic is expected to decrease by 15–20% by 2025.


Last year, Americans consumed over 6 billion avocados - leaving behind mounds of inedible pits. Now a company in Mexico created a method to transform avocado waste into “bioplastic” - which breaks down fast and requires less fossil fuels to produce.


Kaffeeform in Berlin, Germany makes coffee cups from spent grounds.  The cups are 100% recyclable.

Charlie and I go around to various coffee shops in the area periodically to gather their spent coffee grounds. We use them for fertilizer in the Garland Community Garden. Each trip to about five shops yields on average 150 pounds--quite a lot, especially if you consider this is usually only from five shops AND it is only about a 10th of their day as we usually gather them at 9AM.


Put coffee grounds in your compost bin. There are two types of compost material: brown and green. Your coffee grounds may be brown in color, but in compost jargon they are green material, meaning an item that is rich in nitrogen. Coffee grounds are approximately 1.45 percent nitrogen. They also contain magnesium, calcium, potassium, and other trace minerals. Other green compost materials include food scraps and grass clippings.
Adding coffee grounds and used paper coffee filters to your compost will provide green compost material. However, it must be balanced with brown compost material, which includes dry leaves and newspapers. There should be a 4-to-1 ratio of brown compost material to green compost material. If you have too much green material your compost pile will start to smell. If you don't have enough, the compost pile won't heat up.


April 16, 2023 in the Garland Community Garden with Ahmet Cetinkaya, his father and Vijval Byagari and his father

A Big THANK YOU to the Helping Hands in the Garden Today!

One of the many nice things about being a steward for a community garden is that you get to meet nice people of all ages and backgrounds. This afternoon was such a day. Ahmet Cetinkaya and Vijval Byagari came to the garden today to volunteer two work hours to the garden.  Both boys attend Harmony Science Academy here in Garland and both are members of the National Elementary Honors Society. Students who excel academically and model exceptional responsibility can become members through a local selection process that concludes with induction into the school’s National Elementary Honor Society chapter.  Membership provides an outstanding means to prepare and shape students for their middle level and high school experiences

Vijval Byagari and Amet Cetinkaya are good friends and both play soccer.  Today at the garden, Vijval wore his National Elementary Honor Society shirt and Amet wore his Rodolfo shirt. [Rodolfo is a Soccer player from Portugal.]

Vijval is 11 and Amet will be 11 in July.  While chatting with them, I learned they are involved in other community services as well. For example, twice a month they help make sandwiches for the homeless at On the Border and at Boomer Jack’s.

Today the boys chopped weeds and watered the entire garden.  If you’ve been down there, you know that’s saying a lot as it takes one person almost two hours to water it all. Both boys are absolutely great--not because they are so intelligent, although there is that, but because they are both obviously endearingly kind.  Intelligent and kind is an unbeatable combination.  Vijval is trilingual and Amet is bilingual.  Both boys were born in the USA.  Amet’s parents are from Turkey and Vijval’s parents are from India.

Elementary National Honor Students from Harmony Science Academy in Garland, Texas: Amet and Vijval give lessons in weed chopping and garden watering.


Celebrate this weekend by visiting the Garland Community Garden.



Yesterday afternoon I spent a few hours in the garden putzing around.
Our garden is different from most community gardens in several ways: Every bed is different. [Some are pots and some are plots. Some are wooden box raised beds, some are lasagna beds, some are keyhole gardens, some beds grow vegetables and some beds grow food for pollinators.]
Our garden is located on a flood plain between a riparian area and a meadow. We are a certified wildlife habitat with a resident owl, several cardinals and a bluebird and at least one coyote who lived in the woods that we share a border with. Feral cats also often visit the garden. In the early spring people from our Asian community come to harvest new bamboo shoots. We have several chairs and two picnic tables. Many people have told us that our garden is a special, magical place and I know just what they mean. Families come down to look at our plants, read our signs and have picnics.
I helped to establish it in 2014 with several other people and I'm so glad I did.  Our mission is to encourage people in our community to grow some of the food they eat because we know of all the great benefits they and their families will get when they do this.  That is one of the reasons our garden features a variety of gardening places--from traditional in the ground plots to pots made from recycled containers.


BECOMING:  They may not look like it now, but the photo on the left shows  California giant zinnias that will bloom from June to November.
Cactus leaves or Nopales have sprouted all over the cactus in the Medicine Wheel. After they mature into full grown leaves people can eat them as a vegetable. Nopales have a moist crunchy texture with with a slightly slimy texture similar to okra. In terms of flavor, they are tart, with a slightly citrusy taste.
COMMON MILKWEED (Asclepias Syriaca). Our milkweed bed for the Monarchs is coming to life.  This plant is a perennial and its leaves are the only ones that the so-called milkweed butterflies will lay their eggs on.  The Monarch butterfly is a member of that exclusive club. The Black Swallowtail butterfly, of which we have plenty, lays its eggs on plants of the carrot family which includes fennel.  We also have plenty of fennel and carrots planted at the garden.
LETTUCE, KALE, CILANTRO - This has been a great spring for lettuce and cilantro--The best I remember.
Our greens patch would make Mr. McGregor jealous.
EXPERIMENTS IN ACTION - In the photo on the left we have a yellow plastic cup that is covered in vaseline.  The idea is that aphids and gnats and other pests will fly into and get trapped.  We will monitor it carefully to ensure that we don't trap too many pollinators.  But, if we have as many aphids as we did last year, there won't be room for any pollinators.  Just above the yellow cup is a pot with a huge sage  growing in it.  The photo on the right shows a trellis for zucchini plants that I installed yesterday.  It is a cattle panel (4 x 7 feet) folded in half and  wired to two T-poles..


Yesterday [April 10] in honor of coming Earth Day, The Nicholson Memorial Library System and Loving Garland Green, representing the Garland Community Garden, partnered to bring a gardening event to children in Garland, Texas.


Andrea Leon, Children's Librarian at Nicholson Memorial Library, and Jane Stroud, board member Loving Garland Green, and I were the official hosts. The event was held outside on the porch of the downtown Nicholson Library.


As always, with my many gardening interactions with the children of Garland, they were great--polite, attentive and intelligent. The age range for this group was 5 to 9.   The library is a wonderful place with lots of resources to add to the education of a community.  Although books to borrow are its main products, the library offers many more opportunities for fun and learning for people of all ages.  For example, in May, Loving Garland Green will be back to the library to lead a container gardening event for adults.

At the event yesterday, the children learned all about peas and container gardening. Some of the takeaways for them from the event included: a two-gallon pot with a month-old pea plant growing in it in addition to three seeds they planted during the event in the pot; a pan to keep it from leaking on the floor when watered; a trellis made of an upside-down tomato cage; a packet of goodies that included a zip-lock bag with snow peas and sugar snap peas; instructions for care of their plant; a pea recipe book prepared by Andrea that included a recipe for pea cookies; a journal for keeping track of their pea plant as it grows also designed by Andrea;  an information sheet about the Garland Community Garden.


During the presentation, the children learned they can grow just about any vegetable from a five-gallon bucket--provided it is the right size and has good drainage holes and the soil is properly amended.  They were also introduced to books that teach children more about gardening.  After they planted their seeds, Andrea passed out stickers of rainbows, butterflies and flowers and the children decorated their pots.  It was interesting to see their designs emerge on the pots.  Although the children had the same sticker resources to choose from, there was not a design on a pot that was like another--just more evidence for the fact that we each have something unique to bring forth to the world. 


It was a great day and once again an honor to interact with the children In our community.  In closing, I leave you with this garden riddle: 

How is a seed like a book?

Answer:  BOTH CONTAIN INFORMATION.  The seed provides all the information needed to produce a plant and it is specific to a topic. This is sometimes referred to as genetic coding.   For example, a pea seed will never instruct the development of an oak tree.  A squash seed will never grow a tomato.  The same may be said for a book.  It too contains information specific to a topic.  You'll never learn how to repair a car by reading a cookbook for making desserts.



This has been a busy weekend in the garden!  I recently got a call from Charlotte Savage asking if there was some project she could work on at the garden.  Charlotte is a Senior this year in Garland and will go off to college in the fall to become a cyber security expert.  She is working to attain Eagle Scout rank which is not an easy accomplishment.  To attain the Eagle rank, a Scout must earn at least 21 merit badges, fulfill leadership roles and display outdoor skills, demonstrate by example the Scout Oath and Law, and complete a comprehensive service project in the community.  

We have a spiral herb garden that is in need of serious repair so I suggested that Charlotte come help me work on that. I don't know all the rules for a "comprehensive service project in the community" but Charlotte was aware of these rules and for several reasons, helping to repair our spiral herb garden doesn't qualify.  However, Charlotte came down anyway on Saturday to help me out.  Judging from what Charlotte demonstrated on Saturday, I'm certain she will attain the rank of Eagle Scout even though, since its inception in 1911, only four percent of Scouts have earned this rank after a lengthy review process.  Becoming an Eagle Scout offers many benefits.  For example, Eagle Scouts are eligible for many scholarships. Unigo, a network for future college students, offers a list of Eagle Scout Only Scholarships.

We had fun figuring out how to repair the spiral garden and together we came up with a great solution:  concrete blocks for the main part of the wall that was broken and stones that we will set in concrete when we have warmer sunny weather.  The stones will cover up gaps and enhance the appearance of the spiral.

One thing is certain!  This project would not have been half as fun without the cheerful addition of a scout like Charlotte.

About Spiral Herb Gardens

An herb spiral is a raised garden built in the shape of a spiral. It’s taller in the middle and circles down to ground level. It can be made from a variety of materials like stone or wood, and offers different growing conditions within the same bed. Herb spirals are popular in permaculture design.  The raised shape of a spiral herb garden also means there are areas of the bed that receive full sun and areas that are a little more shaded. This mix of microclimates means you can grow both sun-loving and shade-tolerant herbs in a single garden. Basil and oregano are suited for full sun, while cilantro and parsley can grow in less light.