Where to begin?  I’ll start with the pumpkin story.  Last Wednesday, June 2, I decided to start a Ruth Stout compost garden plot.  I rescued two pumpkins my neighbors had left by their garbage bins.  I threw them into a compost bin at the garden, then covered with leaves and a little soil. One week later they had sprouted!


So, I separated some and replanted them in the compost heap.  But there are so many! So, I transplanted some more to pots. And now we are coming to another Garland Community Garden story-- a sharing table.  We have 112 tomato plants already in plots at the garden and some are left over.  They look a bit peeked but with a little TLC they will thrive and give you tomatoes before the summer is over.  There are also a few jalapeno pepper plants, a cucumber plant and some watermelon plants  If you can give them a good home, come and get the ones you need.  The transplanted pumpkin plants are there too.  If you have plants to share, bring them to our table.



Today I delivered produce from the Garland Community Garden to the Good Samaritans.  Our delivery today included green beans, kale, Swiss chard, cucumbers and blackberries.  Next week we should be able to start delivering tomatoes.


I ate my first tomato this year.  It was a beefsteak tomato and totally delicious!  There are more to come and to share.  Below is photo of the plant and a photo of one of the tomatoes.  This year I’m growing all my produce in pots.


[That's a good metaphor for people too.]. We are so fortunate to have people who stop by to pull weeds, in addition to our regular gardeners.




Many tend to think of world hunger as being “over there” across an ocean or two.  It is. But is also likely to be right in your own neighborhood, and certainly in the city where you live.  I was confronted with this reality myself when I went home for my 10th high school reunion years ago.  One of my classmates confided in me that she often only had bread for lunch--two slices of bread put together to look like a sandwich with something in between.  There she was.  I had grown up with her first grade through 12th and I never knew that she had hunger as a constant companion all that time we were growing up together.

I thought about her this morning as I delivered some produce from the Garland Community Garden and saw one of the volunteers from Good Sam’s.  I love the feeling of being connected to others who are playing a part in eliminating hunger. It helps me to quell that voice inside that tells me I may as well give up -- there is no point in trying because the problem of hunger in the world is so huge.

Around the world, 690 million people regularly go to bed hungry, according to a 2020 report from the United Nations food agencies. Globally, about 8.9% of the world’s population — 690 million people — go to bed on an empty stomach each night.  And no, as individuals we can’t single-handedly solve this problem, but working together, community by community, we can.

Those who garden at the Garland Community Garden donate 50% of their produce to Good Sam’s. This week our offering included 1 gallon packet of Swiss Chard, 8-quart bags of mint, 10- quart bags of kale; 4-quart bags of green beans; 5 peppers, 7 cucumbers and two-gallon bags of basil.  Next week we will likely be adding a lot of tomatoes to our delivery as well as blackberries.



As we live in a chaotic, unpredictable world, it  may be helpful for us to build as many escape routes for ourselves as possible.

I have a few: reading, working in the garden and watching Netflix. I suppose you could add meditation. Most of the time I am in the garden, I am in a meditative state with a blank mind (on the weekends when a few people are around, not so much).

For the past three months, when it is not raining, I've spent 3 to 8 hours a day working in the Garland Community Garden which I founded with six other folks 7 years ago. It's a great space with no fences and many plots. It is surrounded on one border by a riparian area that ends in a creek. At the garden the edge marks the transition from the garden to the wild woods where creatures like an owl, raccoons, rabbits, possums.

I often think about the edge when I am at the garden. A lot has been written about the edge and its importance and meaning for human beings. The edge, the place where two distinct environments meet is a significant space that makes room transition, growth and sometimes the birth of new things. In the world of nature, it is at the edge of the forest and the meadow where new species of plants often emerge with characteristics that blend aspects of the plants in the woods with the plants in the meadow.

A couple of days ago I created a Ruth Stout plot. I've done them before but this is the first one I've made one for about three years. I was inspired by two pumpkins beside my neighbors trash cans that I picked up and tossed in the back of my truck. Now their pulp and seeds will produce pumpkins in the fall.

Ruth Imogen Stout (June 14, 1884 – August 22, 1980) was an American author best known for her "No-Work" gardening books and techniques. Stout moved to New York when she was 18 and was employed at various times as a baby nurse, a bookkeeper, a secretary, a business manager, and a factory worker. She was a lecturer and coordinated lectures and debates, and she owned a small tea shop in Greenwich Village and worked for a fake mind-reading act.

Ms. Stout planted her first garden in 1930 at 54 years of age. She gardened for the next 50 years--until she died at age 96. Her unique contribution to the gardening world was to grow her eatables out of her compost pile. “No work gardening” she called it. Just throw some hay and organic matter down, throw some seed in, and feed with compost from your dinner table. No weed pulling, no tilling.




The photo shows a coming attraction to the garden.  One of our three young pear trees (three years old) has 10 pears!  The other two have none--go figure.

This morning I just filled 15 one-gallon bags with Swiss Chard and Kale  and 3 one-gallon bags with basil.  Each bag is two servings of super healthy food.  Thus, a total of 30 servings of greens. Charlie will deliver the bags in a few minutes to the Good Samaritans, a food provider in our community.

This is noteworthy because all of these greens came from four five-gallon pots that I have on my plot at the garden and at my home. The mission of our organization, Loving Garland Green, is to show (by example) the value of growing some of the food you eat and sharing it with others as we donate 50% of our produce to non-profit food banks in our area.  Even if you have limited space such as a small patio or deck, or perhaps a sunny room, you can grow lots of healthy things to eat.

Everything is growing like crazy at the garden.  I think this will be the year of the tomato for the garden.  I’ll get down there and count (in between the monsoon showers) but I’m fairly certain that we have close to 100 tomato plants down there in the various plots and many of them already are loaded with green tomatoes.


We just added another new young member to our active gardeners.  Her name is Emma Spalding who recently moved to Garland from Kentucky.  I signed Emma up on Sunday  and by the end of the day she had already made and planted her garden plot!  Emma is going the natural way:  no border and leaves mixed with the soil.  So far, all three of our latest members over the past two months are young and have created their own new plots where there once were none!


I got a call last week from Isabella Ignacio from North Garland High School Key Club.  She was calling to offer volunteer help to the garden from the club. School is out in June and in July Isabella will be coordinating with Matt Grubisich, Director of Garland Parks and Recreation, and Loving Garland Green to mulch a large pile of brush down at the garden.



Yes indeed!  It takes a community to make a community garden--that and lots of persistence. 

Our anniversary celebration was a success!  We had volunteers from Keep Garland Beautiful outreach there to assist us and Neighborhood Vitality sent some very nice giveaways for our freebie table. Councilman Robert John Smith, a long-time loyal supporter of our garden  stopped by to congratulate us.  Scott Bollinger Garland Neighborhood Resources Manager came down for a tour.  We look forward to working with Scott as well as with Matt Grubisich, Director, Parks Operations & Maintenance at City of Garland, TX

Long-Time important Garland Community Garden Supporter, Councilman Robert John Smith (8th District). 


Scott Bollinger, Garland Neighborhood Resources Manager at the Medicine Wheel.

Many old friends stopped by.  Among them was Linsey Gilbert, School Nurse at Parkcrest Elementary School here in Garland.  If you have a chance stop by and see their beautiful school garden--one of the prettiest in Dallas County located at 2232 Parkcrest Drive, Garland TX. Linsey is the one who coordinated the development of this lovely garden.   She brought her sweet little doggie with her.  You may not know this, but dogs are welcome at the garden as long as they are on a leash and the owner pick up after them.

Linsey Gilbert, School Nurse and School Garden Innovator at Parkcrest Elementary School Garland Texas relaxing in the shade of an old native pecan tree at the Garden.

Speaking of Linsey and Parkcrest reminds me of Reba.  Reba Collins was one of the members of the outreach team from Keep Garland Beautiful who assisted us.  Reba is a certified Master Naturalist who designed the pollinator garden for Parkcrest Elementary.  Members of Loving Garland Green also worked on the school garden project at Parkcrest.  We assisted in the design and planting of the vegetables.

Reba Collins - Keep Garland Beautiful

Reba Collins, Master Naturalist was there from Keep Garland Beautiful to help us out.  In addition to Reba, the Keep Garland Beautiful community outreach team for our event included Ken Risser, Daniel Segert and  Darla Meek.  Keep Garland Beautiful is committed to educating & engaging individuals to take responsibility for improving their community environment. Since their inception as a nonprofit, they have collected 873,779 pounds of litter and installed eight pollinator gardens--a great volunteer organization to join as they do so much for our community.

And of course, a garden party would not be a party without children.  Here are two youngsters taking advantage of the freebies at the Neighborhood Vitality table.


Children's enthusiasm for Gardens is boundless. 

Jack is a special garden boy.  He was born on Earth Day, April 22--eleven years ago. Year before last he planted a Celebrity tomato in this pot.  This year he returned to plant another.

Jackie and his Celebrity Tomato 

No, they are not looking for Waldo.  They are looking on the leaves of common milkweed at the garden for Monarch caterpillars. Four were found. They have been rescued and are now in my living room in containers with milkweed.  In the wild it is estimated that only 5% of Monarch caterpillars make it to adulthood.  When rescued, the odds are much better!  We only lose about 5% of them.  Members of Loving Garland Green have been rescuing caterpillars and tagging Monarchs for five years.  The Garland Community Garden is a certified National Wildlife Habitat:  Garland Community Garden No. 198,434.


Angelica (in the foreground) is searching for Caterpillars with Nancy, one of our faithful Loving Garland Green members. Nancy is our resident expert on herbs.


We made new friends too.  That's the thing about gardens:  You can meet and make all kind of new friends.  Juan and Sandra from Mesquite who read about us in the Mesquite paper were among our first time visitors to the garden.  I'm sure they will be back.

Juan and Sandra -First time visitors to the Garden but they will return.


A special thank-you to Jane Stroud who has been our president since 2017 and Secretary of the Board before that.  Jane is still very active in Loving Garland Green.  We could never have put together our Anniversary celebration without all her hard work.



Will there be a Monarch in the Garden today?  You'll never know if you don't come on down!

It may be a little soggy until 10:30 AM But we will be celebrating in the Garden as Planned!

Here in Texas things always dry up in a big hurry.  By 10:30, the grass will all be dry and by noon the ground should be hard as a rock.

Hope to see you in the garden.  But if you can't make it today, you can visit the garden any day of the week as we are open to the public.

Come on down!

Visit our website at






I’m inspired!  I got up at 5AM this morning and spent 2 hours and 30 minutes going over Loving Garland Green Literature from the past 7 years.  There is a lot of it!  And the good news is that we will be sharing it with you tomorrow, April 24th at the Garland Community Garden.  For the benefit of all, we suggest you wear a mask.

Among other things we will have a table featuring all kinds of FREE Literature on gardening and on gardening related topics such as  water conservation. Later in the afternoon Reba Collins from Keep Garland Beautiful will be stopping by to answer questions.  Reba is a Master Naturalist and has installed beautiful pollinator gardens all over Garland.  Many other talented Garland citizens will also be dropping by.

One of our features will be a garden book table.  I’m inviting members to donate books they want to share. These books will be limited to one per person.  We hope to see you there!  It’s going to be a beautiful day!





In 2020, Due to Covid-19 we never held the plant sale.


Jane Stroud, officer of Loving Garland Green Board of Directors multitasking in the garden:  watering and vacuuming bugs.

At the Crossroads of Sustainable and Practical with Loving Garland Green

FROM spring of 2015:

This morning I got an interesting email from Jane Stroud, an officer on the Board of Directors for Loving Garland Green:

New idea!
I'm invaded with cucumber beetles. I saw on Internet you could vacuum with cordless vac and dump them in soapy water. I tried it this afternoon and you can suck them out of the air in flight. Done!  Gonna try this tomorrow morning when I water with Marie. Should work! Bringing a bucket of soapy water to test it in.  

This morning I went down to the garden to see Jane in action with her cordless vacuum and container of soapy water.  Yes, she was successfully vacuuming up squash bugs.  The process definitely works.

But is vacuuming squash bugs sustainable?  Strictly speaking, the answer is likely "no."

Environmental sustainability refers to the rates of renewable resource harvest, pollution creation, and non-renewable resource depletion that can be continued indefinitely. If they cannot be continued indefinitely then they are not sustainable.  Unless the vacuum is solar-powered, its use to suck up the bugs is not sustainable.



I’ve done considerable research and I can find no information on any beneficial aspect of the squash bug.  If you know of any, please educate me.  Generally speaking all creatures have a reason for being--even humans.


Injury is limited to squash, pumpkin, melon, and other plants in the cucurbit family. Adults and nymphs cause damage by sucking plant juices. Leaves lose nutrients and water and become speckled, later turning yellow to brown. Small plants can be killed completely, while larger cucurbits begin to lose runners. The wilting resembles bacterial wilt, which is a disease spread by another pest of squash, the cucumber beetle. The wilting caused by squash bugs is not a true disease. Squash bugs may feed on developing fruits, causing scarring and death of young fruit.


In spring, search for squash bugs hidden under debris, near buildings and in perennial plants in the garden. Inspect young plants daily for signs of egg masses, mating adults, or wilting. Place wooden boards throughout the garden and check under them every morning.  Then destroy any squash bugs found.

Cultural Practices

The best method for control is prevention through sanitation. Remove old cucurbit plants after harvest. Keep the garden free from rubbish and debris that can provide overwintering sites for squash bugs.

At the end of the gardening season, compost all vegetation or thoroughly till it under. Handpick or vacuum any bugs found under wooden boards. During the growing season, pick off and destroy egg masses as soon as you see them. Use protective covers such as plant cages or row covers in gardens where squash bugs have been a problem in the past and remove covers at bloom to allow for pollination.


Using a trellis for vining types of squash and melons can make them less vulnerable to squash bug infestation. [We are definitely going to 1) plant squash in new places next year and 2) trellis them  [at the least they will be easier to vacuum than vines on the ground].

Resistant Varieties

Some squash varieties, including Butternut, Royal Acorn, and Sweet Cheese, are more resistant to squash bugs.  [We may decide to go this route as well as we did get a few butternut squash this year.]

Biological Control

The parasitic tachinid fly Trichopodna pennipes, which lays its eggs on squash bugs, may be found in some gardens. Look for the eggs of this parasite on undersides of squash bugs.   [I'm very leery of introducing non-native insects into our local environment.  In fact, I don't do it.  Often this ends up drastically upsetting the balance of nature in the environment and you end up trading one problem for another.  We've seen this in many places in the USA with the introduction of various non-native species of dragonflies as mosquito controllers.]

Chemical Control has been found to be ineffective in the management and control of the squash bug.

[Information and photo on squash bug courtesy University of California Agriculture Department.]


Permaculture Principle 11:  Use Edges and Value the Marginal


When we founded Loving Garland Green in October of 2013, we set the permaculture principles as our ideals to aim for as stewards of the Garland Community Garden.  As such, we use no pesticides other than insect soap down at the garden. We also have an agreement with the City that they will not use pesticides or herbicides on their property that directly adjoins the garden.

Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly using the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems.

Membership in Loving Garland Green for most of us includes following the 12 principles of permaculture.   You can find them on our website at

The eleventh principle is one that is not always readily understood and more than once I’ve explained it to people because it is an important principle to observe in nature.  We can learn from our observations and then to use this knowledge as leverage to bring changes that conserve energy and maximize existing potential.  

Permaculture Principle 11:  Use Edges and Value the Marginal

As a culture we rarely use or even think of edges as any more than boundaries that separate different parts or areas.  As for “valuing the marginal”—more often than not, we view marginal as unstable and dangerous and run from it at full throttle.

David Holmgren, one of the co-founders of permaculture as a discipline is often quoted as saying:  “Don’t think you are on the right path just because you have plenty of company.”  That statement is a good principle in and of itself (even if it is not specifically one of the 12 permaculture principles).  And yes, almost the entire world can be wrong and historically have been more than once.  We all need to remember that. Ignorance can often manifest and spread like weeds to the far corners of the earth. The number does not increase the value of the weed.  If anything, it only makes it more noxious.

In nature, the place where two eco-systems or habitats meet (e.g. woodland and meadow) is generally more productive and richer in the variety of species present than either habitat on its own. In ecology this space is called 'ecotone'.

This observation of nature is central to the idea of using edges as a design method. The logic is simple. If the most productive bit of woodland is the edge, then design it to have a bigger edge.  Makerspaces that I've written about lately can be considered as putting permaculture principle 11 into action.  The makerspace is a way to widen the narrow edge occupied by skilled workers through the creation of spaces that make their tools and expertise available for teaching others.  The unskilled workers bring their own life experiences to this edge or space and thus new ways to use the tools and new possibilities for creation of new objects emerge from the merging of these two different worlds of the teacher and the student.

Intuitively, at least, we show some propensity to use edges and value the marginal.  For example, many people in the world desire to live near or on the edge where the water meets the land—lakefront properties, beach properties, and riverfront properties.  That we value such edges is reflected in the prices that we are willing to pay for these edge properties.

But it is peculiar how we can have such an understanding at one level that indicates a deeper understanding of the underlying principle and then turn around and totally disregard the principle in other applications. 

No better example of this than the way we have laid out our streets—particularly in residential areas.  If anything, the grid pattern which most residential developments follow totally ignores the edge and how it could be used to enhance the quality of any residential development and the lives of the people who live there. 


YOU HAVE MANY CHOICES:  here are a few:

The sap from Philodendron can irritate your skin and mouth, resulting in throat swelling, breathing difficulties, burning pain, and stomach upset.  Ingesting the flower, leaf or stem of an Azalea could lead to abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, paralysis, coma, and even death.  Hydrangea blossoms contain cyanide.   

Oleander is very toxic as it contains cardiac glycosides (cardenolides) found in all parts of the plant.  Just one leaf can harm a child.  Munching on the bulb of a daffodil can cause convulsions, tremors, and cardiac arrhythmia.  Lilly of the Valley--a favorite for bridal bouquets but ingesting these flowers which, like Oleander, contain cardiac glycosides can lead to death. 

Lilies, a favorite for funeral wreaths and also Tiger Lilies and Day Lilies can all cause acute kidney failure by just eating a small amount of these plants.  Dieffenbachia, also known as “elephant ear” can become deadly if ingested, causing the airways to swell shut. Even brushing against it can cause burning or itching.

Datura, also called Moonflower and Angel Trumpet has a lovely sweet  honeysuckle/star jasmine scent.  A member of the nightshade family, it also goes by other less flattering nomenclature such as “Hells Bells” and Jimsonweed.  The beautiful white flowers of the Datura only open up at night, hence the name Moonflower. 

The seeds from this plant have been ingested by indigenous people in temperate zones all over the word for centuries  to induce hallucinations and visions for spiritual ceremonies--but not without consequences as many of them died.  They also smoke the leaves. But that’s the main problem I have with most folk medicines and cures:  you never can be for certain how much is enough.  It’s all about the recommended dosage.  But the real kicker is that one can never know until it is too late. 

The Zuni people once used datura as an analgesic to render patients unconscious while broken bones were set.  Because of this use, I’ve considered planting Datura in the Medicine Wheel at the Garland Community Garden. No doubt many of the ancient medicine wheels all over the Southwest had Datura. But I’ve decided against it once again this year--even though I have 36 seedlings and I have planted six in my yard at home.  I love them for the flower and wonderful scent.


Central Texas Gardener had this to say about Datura: 

The most common way to get this plant is by having a friend share some seed with you. Once the flower has been pollinated, a very large, spiky seed head forms, containing hundreds of seeds. If you don’t collect those seed heads before they burst, you’ll find lots of Datura seedlings coming up all over the place next year, although the plant really isn’t invasive and the seedlings shouldn’t escape too far.

Most likely it will reestablish from seed, so be sure to collect and save some so that you can plant them where you want them next year, and give some to jealous friends.

Datura only gets about 2 feet tall, but may spread very wide, up to 10 feet, especially if it’s getting plenty of water. It doesn’t need much water at all and prefers well-drained, coarse soil, but if given a little supplemental irrigation, it will get a bit larger and flower more prolifically.

Datura needs full sun to grow and produce those gorgeous white blooms, which usually start to show in late May or early June and cover the plant all summer long. Be very careful when handling this plant. All parts of it are poisonous if ingested. Some people are allergic and have a reaction when touching its fuzzy gray-green foliage.

Datura is a great plant for xeriscaped areas in your garden, and requires very little care or attention to be beautiful all summer long, even in the extreme heat.”