When I first ventured into vegetable gardening I was guided by books. Each step felt tenuous, like treading in the dark. My guide was a carefully drawn plan, each square foot measured, each seed accounted for.  With time I relaxed.  I learned that seeds grow and that I only need to provide water and shelter.

A few years have passed and now what joy! Borage, calendula, dill, sorrel and chives return on their own to resculpt the landscape. This spring, rabbits devoured the first shoots of sunflowers and greens…so I raised the height of the wire fence, used a large removeable barrel to block the entrance, and planted more seeds.  I still make annual plans—plant families rotate from year to year and companions are placed side by side.  Beyond my winter dreaming the real garden emerges in a flow of call and response.

Even with a plan

the path ahead is hidden

mystery unfolds

Foreground left to right: flowering cilantro, yellow calendula, and winter squash vine; behind is a removeable barrel blocking the opening in the chicken wire fence

Behind the barrel gate

cilantro blooms celebrate

squash vine creeps closer


In response to Suzanne’s Ontheroad prompt “Step by Step” based on this quote from Monkey King 2: 

You don’t find the path, you make it step by step” 

and this haiku of Basho:

 In the wintry gust

I wander, like Chikusai

the comic poet.
 – from “Matsuo Bashō: The Poetic Spirit, Sabi, and Lightness,” by Makoto Uedo

©2017 Ontheland





I wonder why

I shuddered and

uttered pitchy sounds when

rock and fence became your

sudden slither.  You are

definitely not my type but

we can get along

if you stay.  Your

orange stripes, woven skin

and watchful eye make you

a stud—perhaps.  Yet

my prejudice against your

kind is deep.  Is it experience

I lack or could it be

a strain of gene or

myth that makes me


© 2017 Ontheland

The photo shows the snake I encountered the other day when I was just about to lean over to look for pea sprouts.  Garter snakes are known to be fairly harmless and probably beneficial for the garden, but…

End of July Vegetable Garden Visit

Another summer month has come to an end and it’s time for a garden visit.  On the down side, July brought bug bites, hot scorching sun and drought conditions.  We’ve had only a few scanty showers.  The sight of drooping plants, as shown below, disturbs me but this shot also shows the cucumber vines climbing (a positive sight):


The biggest disappointment this month was animal nibbling by a skunk, rabbit, fisher or other mammal.  For the first time my peppers have been eaten…they bit the lower ends off! Onion greens were also taken, as were the tops of several milkweed plants!  The solutions?  First, I put up enclosures to discourage sampling.  I have a few peppers left and hope a few will ripen to red.  This shot shows the pepper plants with extra protection:


My second solution is putting out food offerings to keep the critters fed and less interested in my crops.  I have put out corn, carrots, and discount zucchini from the store.   This shot shows a chomped off milkweed plant and a nibbled zucchini offering.


Thankfully there have been peas, beans, spinach, cucumber and zucchini to pick and a wonderful garlic harvest.  And I have a hose that delivers water so the garden hasn’t fried to a crisp like the rest of the world.

Pole beans
Zucchini: the stems are prickly
Cucumber (notice the prickles on the hanging cucumber)
Heirloom spinach with a wild mint plant in foreground.
Red onions, struggling this year, but surviving
Winter acorn squash flowers

By mid-July I dug up all the garlic—not an easy task as the ground was hard.  Fresh garlic is attractive (especially when it’s your first garlic harvest):



©2016, all rights reserved by ontheland.wordpress.com


Garden sage in bloom

In response to the Daily Post Photo Challenge ‘Partners’.

When I planted garden sage, I was adding to my collection of cooking herbs.  I must admit, I also dreamed of making smudge sticks, but later learned that the varieties of sage used for ceremonial burning are quite different….and it is not pleasant nor healthy to burn garden sage!  I tried a few locations, and finally found one where sage would grow happily.  In fact they took over…this is the third year now and they are a thriving community, bushy and close, sending up multiple spikes of purple flowers.


This second photo gives a somewhat closer view of the flowers, sharing their stems with many others.


Plants love to congregate.  It never ceases to amaze me how, when left to their own devices, plants will grow next to and under each other.  Sometimes called weeds, they could be thought of as companions, depending on your perspective at the moment.  The main neighbor shown here is a dogwood bush, visited by spittle bugs, which, I am told, will not damage the plant.  And finally, the most interesting part of this photo for me is the surprise collection of white sage flowers!


©2016, all rights reserved by ontheland.wordpress.com