Sow: voluntold

In the gardening world, there are plants known as “volunteers.” These sneaky little devils are not planted by human hand. They just show up and take root. They could be “planted” by the wind, dropped from a bird’s beak, carried by naughty squirrels moving yummy seeds to their eat later stash, or even hidden in the depths of a compost pile.

In my case, it’s possible they’re here to test my sanity, patience, and goodwill to plant-kind.

After my terrible luck with tomatoes for the last two years I vowed that I would NEVER EVER grow them again. And I meant it. Well, I guess I’ve been “voluntold” by the wind, birds, squirrels, compost or something else to grow them this spring. Maybe rejecting tomatoes will be the best thing that ever happened to my tomato farming. Teaches me to give up on a type of plant.

See, two volunteer tomato plants have appeared in Raised Bed #4, where I grew tomatoes last year. They’re nestled in between the thriving power greens: spinach, kale, and chard. Sneaky bastards. Of course, I didn’t have the heart to pull them out once I realized what they were. They’re doing quite well, flowering, growing,  and enjoying the new irrigation system. They even have nice red cages to protect them as they get bigger. Maybe if I continue to ignore them they’ll be fabulous. I can almost taste the ‘mater sandwiches now…


Volunteer tomato #1, barging in on the spinach


Volunteer tomato #2, crowding the kale

My other volunteers cheered me up. I was really sad when the beautiful Malabar spinach got hit by the first frost and croaked. Two little plants provided lots of people with green leafy goodness and looked so pretty covering the trellis at the back of Raised Bed #2 all summer and fall. Well, I guess it’s a perennial or it’s decided to be zombie spinach because it’s back. And it looks like it’s more determined than ever — the little plants seem to be doubling every day. Hopefully it doesn’t squeeze out my one surviving bush bean that’s just starting to get close to the trellis. Or bug the okra. But I know I’m going to be happy to have it around when North Texas’ crazy summer temperatures get too hot for regular spinach. I bet it makes great green drinks.


Malabar spinach is back! Green drinks for everyone!

But I can’t really complain. Even though I wasn’t planning for them, these volunteers are all doing great. And they were 100% free. I’ll keep you posted on how they do.


Gratuitous dog photo of the day:


Godiva decided to see if Gidget’s crate was good for naps. Photo by Bruce


Sow: It’s My Park Day

Bags of mulch are a lot heavier than I remembered. Today’s fresh start/new beginning was adjusting to being “voluntold” by my sweet husband Bruce. You see our voluntary neighborhood association’s (not an HOA) president and the vp of activities came for a visit a week ago Friday. You see, they remembered that we volunteered at the It’s My Park Day that the city of Dallas sponsors. And they also remembered that we have three large-ish dogs that spend a great deal of time at the park with us.

Before the hour was out, Bruce was the Park Liaison. And I was the Park Liaison’s helper. I even have a fancy name tag.

That’s why I was up by 5:45 on a Saturday. And at Lowes by 7:30 to buy 16 bags of hardwood mulch since the city had apparently forgotten our delivery for the park (more about that in a second). Do not go to Lowes to purchase mulch at 7:30 am on a Saturday. First of all, each bag weighs 40 pounds. Second of all, the garden center isn’t really open that early so you will have to push 40 pounds x 16 through the entire store to get to the checkout. Third, when you are loading your pickup truck with 16 bags of mulch, no Lowes employee will help but instead make pithy comments like “Dang, that looks heavy” and “Y’all sure that’s gonna fit?”


heavier than it looks

When we arrived at the park, it was around 32° F. Yes, 0° C. And a bit windy. Still 35 volunteers plus 3 local politicians (some with entourages) came to clean up in and around the creek and mulch 6 flower beds.

My first job after toting mulch bags was to check people in, make their name stickers, and get them to sign the city’s waver, allowing photography and holding no one responsible if they got hurt. I also pointed out where the donuts, coffee and water was, although given the temperature, coffee was the most popular option. Two little kids scarfed down most of the donuts, much to their mother’s horror. I chuckled to myself because I figured they would go sugar crazy pretty quickly.

The city arrived with the mulch. Bruce collected the bags he had unloaded and loaded them back into the truck.

My next job was to fill my wheelbarrow with bottled water, trash bags, gloves and kleenex (cold = runny noses) and walk the length of the park near the creek, then continue on to the flower beds, following the creek up to the next big street. I gave my big orange plastic bucket to the donut eating kids and their mom to help them mulch the flower bed they were working on (unfortunately for me, they decided to keep it).

After that I raked and mulched a flower bed. I got some gardening tips and heard about the heads of cattle one neighbor has on his ranch (his weekend home).

And then we were done. The creek was very clean. There were full black garbage bags waiting for the city to pick them up. The flower beds looked fabulous.

Well, WE weren’t done. Back to Lowes to unload and return the purchased mulch!

I’m going to need some Aleve tonight.