We thank our donors.

When I came down to the garden at about noon to water some new transplants, I saw that someone had donated about 125 little pots of purple shamrocks.

The purple shamrock, also known as Oxalis triangularis, is called the "love plant" because its heart-shaped leaves are said to symbolize love and fertility. This makes it a popular gift between romantic partners--somewhat odd considering that all parts of the plant are toxic to humans and animals.

Many of the plants are blooming--pink blossoms



Purple Shamrocks, or Oxalis triangularis, contain oxalic acid, a compound that can impact human health. When ingested, oxalic acid binds with calcium in the body, potentially leading to a drop in calcium levels and the formation of kidney stones.

Skin contact with Purple Shamrocks might result in irritation or allergic reactions. Symptoms can include itching, redness, and swelling. It's a real bummer, but wearing gloves can help avoid this itchy predicament.



More about the Plant

Purple shamrocks are grown from bulbs, rather than seeds. The best time to plant is in the spring. Plant the bulbs with the narrower end facing up roughly 1 to 2 inches down in the soil. Space multiple bulbs approximately 3 to 4 inches apart.

It prefers sun to partial shade and needs four hours of sunlight

Purple Shamrock Plant is a rhizomatous herbaceous ornamental garden or houseplant in the wood sorrel family that is native to South America. The trifoliate leaves resemble a shamrock and can be green to variegated to deep maroon in color. The leaves close up at night or when disturbed. The white to pink 5-petaled flowers bloom in clusters in spring to summer on stems held above the plant and also close at night.

We don't know who our donors are but we think they are perhaps a scout troop as many of the pots have painted shells with google eyes.




Loving Garland Green, stewards of the Garland Community Garden, hosted a tour of their garden for the Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club [GDOGC] on Saturday May 18, 2024.

It’s always fun and educational to get together with other gardeners and share gardening experiences.  The members of Loving Garland Green agree with GDOGC, I’m certain, on almost everything having to do with gardens--from “organic is the way to go” to “you’ll learn something new every time you visit a garden, even your own garden.”

Their mission: “The purpose of the Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club is to promote organic gardening and related subjects through education and community outreach.”

Loving Garland Green has a similar mission: We too are organic gardeners and our mission is to “encourage the people of Garland to grow some of the food they eat.”  We hope to accomplish our mission by example through our stewardship of the Garland Community Garden, established in April of 2014. 


Don't discard expired packets of seeds!  Plant them instead and see what happens. Gardening is nothing if not a grand adventure.

This year for our special theme we are encouraging people to not throw away their expired seed packets as seeds remain viable long after the expiration date on the seed package. There are two beds in the garden devoted to this purpose:  One in the front of the garden features several sections that currently have the following:  beans, okra [most of which has now been given away], watermelon, and mammoth dill--all grown from seeds that were at least three years old.

Then, there is a second bed featuring a tribute to old seeds near the back of the garden. This bed has a trellis and features German lima beans.  This is our second year to feature this bed.  Last year [2023] it was planted with beans that had been saved since 1996.  The seeds were 27 years old.  They were viable with a 100% germination rate.  The seeds from the vines today were from seeds from last year’s crop and they too had a 100% germination rate. Jane Stroud, whose mother saved these seeds shared her personal story about them with the GDOGC members.  The signage on the trellis features a photo of Jane’s mother and the story.  You can visit the garden any time and read all about it if you like.


Have some fun this Sunday May 27!  Attend a meeting of the Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club!

Both Davene Morgan, GDOGC President and Karen Wright, Volunteer Coordinator, emphasized that the public is welcome to join their group. The Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club meets the fourth Sunday of the month January through October at North Haven Gardens 7700 Northhaven Road, Dallas 75230 at 2:30 to 3 PM for refreshments and social time and 3 PM for the start of the meeting. Since 1993, the GDOGC has been promoting organic and sustainable gardening methods. Come be a part of a fun and informative club.  Visit their website at  






The  first Earth Day was held April 22, 1970 -- 54 years ago!  We owe this reminder to be kind to our environment to Senator Gaylord Nelson. The junior senator from Wisconsin, had long been concerned about the deteriorating environment in the United States. Then in January 1969, he and many others witnessed the ravages of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, Senator Nelson wanted to infuse the energy of student anti-war protests with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a teach-in on college campuses to the national media, and persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair.

Recognizing its potential to inspire all Americans, Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land and the effort soon broadened to include a wide range of organizations, faith groups, and others.  They changed the name to Earth Day, which immediately sparked national media attention, and caught on across the country.  Earth Day inspired 20 million Americans — at the time, 10% of the total population of the United States — to take to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate against the impacts of 150 years of industrial development which had left a growing legacy of serious human health impacts.


Earth Day Tour at Garland Community Garden

On Monday, April 22 at 1 PM we are hosting a tour for the Sachse Garden Club.  The public is also invited to join us for a great opportunity to get together with a bunch of gardeners.  This is part of our week-long celebration for the 10th anniversary of Loving Garland Green's installation of the first raised bed.  By the way, this blog is a chronicle of the development of our garden from the inception of our nonprofit (Loving Garland Green) in 2013 up through today.  Our mission is to encourage the people in our community to grow some of the food they eat.

In reviewing our files I came across a photo of our very first bed.  It was a square foot raised bed. Initially designed by a Mel Bartholomew in 1996, square foot gardens are all over the world.  They even have a foundation supporting them. You can read about them on the Internet.  As the years have passed, these beds have becometoo much work for me:  you have to divide them into  one foot sections, then. you have to create a special soil mix, and of course it is all in a four sided wooden frame. 

As for the overall design of a bed, there are only three strict rules for me:  no wider than four feet but can be as long as space allows;  accessible from all four sides;  soil amended with organic matter such as dry leaves or expanded shale.  No more wooden enclosures around the bed for me.  After five years the wood rots and you have to replace it.  Furthermore you have to trim the grass and weeds that grow up to the wood--much easier with your lawnmower.  I haven't yet reached the Ruth Stout point where I just toss my seeds out on the compost pile, but I'm fast approaching that stage of life.

Do you believe that when we installed the first bed at the Garland Community Garden we did not even have water on the site?  It's true.  We did not. But we had an inventive member named Gene Rodgers who designed a water system for us using ollas.    We planted several ollas filled with water in the bed. Ollas are unglazed clay pots filled with water. You can find details about how many per bed at the Sprouted Gardens website.   With Gene’s system the Ollas were connected with small tubing to a larger reservoir which was a 5-gallon bucket that you could buy for $1.98 in 2014 and cost $5.00 today. 



Garland Community Garden 4022 Naaman School RD 75040



In about half an hour (10 am Dallas time) I'll be at the Garland Community Garden. I'm taking down 9 Lemon Balm Plants that I'll put on one of our picnic tables. They are free to take. (One per household please). There are in 2.32 qt pots. There will also be a laminated information sheet that you can take a photo of with your mobile Phone.
Lemon Balm was used as far back as the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep and ease pain and discomfort. Even before the Middle Ages, lemon balm was steeped in wine to life the spirits and help heal wounds and treat venomous insect bites. Native to Europe the plant grows all over the world.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis),

also called heart’s delight, lemon mint, balm mint, blue balm, garden balm, or sweet balm, is a useful perennial herb for the garden. Lemon balm has heart-shaped or slightly rounded leaves, square stems, and has a strong lemon aroma and flavor. Plant 18 inches apart in the early spring in an enriched soil. Water regularly, but fertilize sparingly, throughout the year. Regular harvest will help contain its growth. Use lemon balm fresh, or dry for storage.


Planting and Spacing

Lemon balm grows from 2 to 3 feet high and should be spaced 18 to 24 inches apart. Lemon balm prefers full sunlight but will tolerate light shade. Plants grown with some shade tend to produce larger and more succulent leaves.


Lemon balm is a hardy perennial herb that grows best when it is not water stressed. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, or the plants will get root rot. Supply water through drip or overhead irrigation and mulch around the plants to conserve soil water.


Care of the Plant

Lemon balm, like mint, spreads rapidly and can take over an herb bed. Growing plants in containers helps control this problem. If planted in the soil, harvest the leaves regularly, remove the flowers before they set seed, and dig around the plant edges in the soil to reduce root spreading.

How to Harvest and Cure Lemon Balm

Frequent harvest will keep lemon balm bushy and compact. Harvest about one-third of the foliage at monthly intervals to encourage healthy growth. Harvest before the plant starts to bloom, being careful not to bruise the leaves. After harvesting, tie the stems in a bundle and hang them indoors out of direct sunlight or in a shady place to dry. Dried leaves retain their green color, but are not as fragrant as when used fresh. Carefully strip the dried leaves from the stems and store in airtight containers. Note: Harvest lemon balm when the plant is just starting to produce flower buds. This is when the plant has the highest concentration of oils.




Bring your rake, hoe, hammer, nails, wire and other garden tools and help us tidy up the garden.  If you have plants or seeds or pots or other garden related items to share, bring them too.  I’ll be bringing lots of seeds.  Among my seeds will be some very special German butter beans.  Why are they special?  The mother of one of our members saved them in her refrigerator since 1996.  I planted them last year (2023) down at the garden.  They germinated and being a seed saver, I have several packets of Laura’s German Lima bean seeds to share.  By the way. If you have seeds left over from prior years, don’t throw them away.  Most of them will likely be viable for many years.


This is also a good time for those who may want to have a plot at the Garland Community Garden.  We will be assigning plots to those who want to garden.  Also, there are plenty of greens for those who would like to take some home.  For those who don’t know how to cook greens, we will have some recipes that you can copy with your phone.  Greens are healthy and it’s a good idea to develop a taste for them.

The garden is always beautiful and wonderful.  I was down there yesterday and all the daffodils were in bloom. However, by Saturday, they will mostly be spent.  That’s the thing about gardens:  they are like the rivers that Heraclitus, an ancient philosopher, once observed. “You can never step into the same river twice.”  Nor can you step into the same garden twice as, like the river, the garden changes from minute to minute.

Fennel is making a comeback at the Garland Community Garden this year.  By the way, if you need mulch for your garden at home, I think we have enough mulch for all the gardens in Garland--and it's free!




How do I know? A few days ago, I bought a seed starting tray.  I know it was not a sustainable action on my part--consumerism at its worst--purchasing plastic. I just wanted to try them and I promise I’ll keep the tray for as long as I live. And it is supposedly recyclable plastic so if/when I’m done with it I’ll chop it up into tiny pieces and use it to aerate soil in my garden.  Also, I have saved those awful Styrofoam containers that eggs come in that Charlie bought without thinking.  I’ll use them also for the rest of my life to start seeds in. Why the rest of my life? Let's talk about the half-life of those egg cartons. Basically, this is the time required for half of a reactant to be depleted or to decompose and decay. The half-life of those Styrofoam egg cartons is 500 years. Scary fact: almost 30 percent of landfills are Styrofoam and polystyrene.  What a horrible legacy we are leaving our children.


Say what you will about the Internet and social media.  I love it.  No. I don’t love the censorship of the corporate owners but I love the community.  Social media brings the whole world right into our homes.  It enables us to establish relationships with people halfway around the world.  We can learn what ordinary people just like us think about things and best of all, we are exposed to new ideas and new ways of thinking that we would not have otherwise known about. Of course, I don’t agree with all that I read and that’s OK.  It’s good to abide by the old adage of “take what you need and can use an disregard the rest.”


Well look at me!  I got off my beaten path and onto my soapbox--an easy thing for me to do considering what is happening in the world today.  For now, I’ll get back to the topic for this post which is seed starting.  A few weeks ago, I saw a video where someone cut up a strawberry and planted pieces of it which in turn sprouted into strawberry plants.  I’ve never started strawberry plants from seed so I decided to give it a go.  We have a large strawberry tower at the Garland Community Garden.  I think it holds about 35 plants.  Last year strawberry plants cost $5.98 each.  You can see how expensive that gets.  This year they will probably cost $8 each.  I’ll keep you posted if they sprout.


I’ll tell you something else I do:  I can’t stand to plant seeds in the ground and then there are bare spots where some don’t germinate so. . . I always start seeds in a wet paper towel in a baggy. Then, the ones that germinate I plant either in a little pot to transplant or right into the ground.  Don’t pay attention to the dates on the seed packages as seeds are more often than not viable many years beyond that date.  Start some from last years seed packets and you’ll see what I mean.  And you’ll also have a great lesson in learning to not believe everything you read.


Another seed lesson:  Your best seeds will most often be those that come from successful plants that you have grown in your garden.  They are tried and true for your particular environment.


One last note before I post all the related photos:  If you live in Garland Texas and need mulch for your urban garden, we have plenty to share down at the Garland Community Garden. There was a misunderstanding between me and a generous fellow from Encore Electric.  He asked if we need some mulch.  I said yes but only two loads full.  To date it looks like we have about five loads down there.  Please wait until it stops raining and dries up a bit before driving down there as we don’t want deep ruts.  But you can come and take what you need for your garden.





10 AM to NOON

Saturday November 18, 2023

I will be at the Garland Community Garden for two hours on Saturday  to guide those who want to harvest Mustard Greens.  Normally we ask people to not harvest from the garden.  However as long as I'm down there, I can direct you to the beds that can be harvested.  Otherwise, out of respect to the other gardeners, we ask you to not harvest unless a member of Loving Garland Green is down there to direct you to the beds where we might make exceptions on occasions such as this.

You will need to bring:

1. Scissors

2. a bag for your greens.

Also, I will supervise folks who want to make cuttings of a few herbs such as oregano.  You can put these is water and they will root and grow in a sunny spot on a window sill in your kitchen.

In late September I threw some mustard and collard green seeds around the garden.  I didn't expect the great result that resulted. Many of these greens will be gone with the first heavy frost we have.  Of course the Kale and Collards are more hardy.  Our  first killing frost is usually around the 21st of November.  I would hate to see all these lovely greens go to waste.

If you've never eaten greens, now might be a good time to try some.


Mustard Greens

PREP TIME. 10 mins

COOK TIME. 15 mins

TOTAL TIME. 25 mins

SERVINGS  4 servings


1/2 cup thinly sliced onions

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced I don’t like garlic

1 pound mustard greens, washed, large stems removed, leaves torn into large pieces

2 to 3 tablespoons chicken broth, or vegetable broth

1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper
Sautee onions in olive oil

Add mustard greens and broth.  Cook until barely wilted.  Remove from heat. Toss with sesame oil Season salt and pepper.  Calorie per serving 79.  4g fat, 9g carb. 4g protein



Greens make a great side dish.

This is a classic Sicilian side dish using greens. Of course, I skip the garlic because I don’t like garlic. 

It's made with leafy greens that you sauté with garlic in olive oil and toss with toasted pine nuts and raisins. The result is sweet, savory, salty, spicy and just a little bitter.

I often use dinosaur kale (aka Lacinato or Tuscan kale) but you could easily use collard greens, mustard or turnip greens, or spinach. Any leafy green will do. It takes less than 10 minutes to cook.


  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 bunch kale, chard, collards, or turnip greens, etc., about 1 pound, tough stem centers removed (if any) and discarded, greens chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Roughly 1/4 cup dry white wine (can sub water with a splash of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Toast Pine Nuts in skillet.  Add Olive oil.  Wilt the greens. Add the greens and mix well. Sauté, stirring often, until the greens wilt and begin to give up some of their water, anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes for spinach to 4 to 5 minutes for collards or kale. Add the nuts, raisins, salt, and red pepper flakes:

Stir in the nuts and raisins, and sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes

Add the white wine:

Use a little more wine if you are cooking collards, and less if you are cooking spinach. Toss to combine and let the liquid boil away. Once the liquid boils off, remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can also see some of our lovely self-seeded Zinnias scattered throughout the garden.  I'll also have a few of their seeds to give away.



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.