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Garden Struggles

During a trip from Chicago to Michigan via Amtrak last week, I was amused when the train stopped and an Amtrak employee delivered a heart rendering apology for the delay. While fellow passengers grumbled to each other, I closed my book and marveled that the employee could sound so sincere,...
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The Sweetness of Fall Gardening

The threat of frost sends me out to the garden to glean the last of the veggies. As I don my jacket, I open the door and two streaks of striped fur dash between my feet. The kittens apparently are also concerned about the possibility of a frost and have decided to "help" me. For some reason, even...
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Garden Patch Fliers

I am supposed to be weeding. It is a mystery to me that the weeds are so high when we have had less than two inches of rain all summer. As I halfheartedly tug at the weeds, an avian soap opera unfolds around me. The sunflowers are fading quickly but there are still a few seeds on them to entice a...
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The Grapes Are Ready!

I was feeling a little smug as I finished putting the last of the cukes and tomatoes into a salad. I usually am desperate at this time of year to keep up with the output from the garden. I had made tomato soup and a hearty pasta sauce with the latest picking of tomatoes. The Japanese beetles had...
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Gardening: Cheaper Than Therapy and You Get Tomatoes

Chip and I sit on the shaded deck, holding fat homemade steak sandwiches on Turano Italian rolls stuffed with homegrown peppers, onions, tomatoes and herbs. We both are filthy. We have spent three hours picking black raspberries. This is the fourth picking, the last of the lot for this year. Heat...
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A Tale of Two Kitties

If you live in western Illinois, you know that this has been a strange planting season. First, we went from winter to summer in about twenty minutes, or so it seemed. While waiting to have favorable conditions to plant out seedlings we'd started in February, we had to transplant many of the plants...
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A Series of Strange but Fortunate Events

One of the best things about gardening, for me, is always getting to learn something new, sometimes from surprising sources. This is the story of a new house, a new truck, and a desired plant. My daughter and her family moved into a house in Oak Park in late summer and I got to help them move....
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Growing Onions in Central Illinois

While visiting some Amish friends years ago, Chip and I were invited to visit their vegetable garden. I had seen it when we parked and was eagerly anticipating the tour. Their garden was huge and flourishing. Of particular interest were the enormous onions. I noted that they were different...
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Seed Catalogs and Plant Sales: Spring is Coming!

Before cell phones became so commonplace, we anticipated and welcomed the annual arrival of phone books. It was very exciting to see the plastic wrapped phone book just waiting for a quick check to see if we still existed. What has now taken the place of the phone books is the arrival of seed...
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Wildlife in the Winter Garden

Mother Nature has sent a new blast of subzero weather to western Illinois. Our corn stove is blasting out heat, the LP tank is newly filled, and my geriatric cat, Tink, firmly entrenched on my lap as I type, radiates heat. Let Mother Nature do her thing. The view from the window is typical of most...
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