I was Stuck, and Now I’m Not…

And I don’t mean by a rosebush!

This post is all about me. I’m apologizing right now, because I should probably be talking about other things but I’m kind of transparent by nature so I can’t move on and get back to work here until I share this with you.

Last August I left my job as Bass River, Inc’s adaptive gardening specialist because I had a supervisor who just didn’t get gardening or my agreement with the agency about what my tasks were and how I would use my time based on the agreement.

And, he didn’t get me. At all.

So, very very sadly and abruptly, I had to go.

Then a few weeks later my mom died.

In September I found myself grieving… so much…

It was mostly for my mom, who at 82 had lived a very good life, but her illness and death happened quickly and unexpectedly.  Loosing one’s mother at any age is one of the hardest things that we go through in this life.

But I was also grieving the loss of my job. I had loved it so much. I loved the men and women whom I served. I loved the ways that they responded to gardening and gardens and the work that we were able to do together. I loved that every day there was a moment when someone enjoyed a flower that they remembered from their past, or had a blast planting some seeds when they didn’t think they would. I loved all of it.

I couldn’t go back. The bridge was burnt and I was feeling too fragile to look much further. A few job prospects came and went, but nothing really stuck.

I spent the fall and winter taking care of my family and trying to get my head on straight.

I kept folding laundry and cooking and organizing things and Komari cleaning out the closets and the kitchen. I planned this year’s garden and started seeds.

Then one day a few weeks ago it was time to buy flowers for the front porch.

As I walked into the garden center I saw a friend working there who I had made when I took the individuals from Bass River shopping for plants. She immediately asked where they were and I told her my story.  As I stood at the register paying for my purchase she was calling a regional manager to let him know that I was right there, and might be interested in working for his perennial supply company.

So, here I am with a new job. I’m working part time as a rep for a company that supplies perennials and tropical plants to a large chain store.

For the first few days I wasn’t at all sure that I’d last, but I think I might. The work is so physically hard. The more I push myself to do it, the more sure I am that it’s just what I need. I can feel some of the grief lifting. I can breathe and think more clearly. New thoughts are beginning to occupy the places where the what if’s and if only’s took over for so long.

I’m working with plants, thinking about plants and learning about plants, just what I like to do.

When things settle in and I can post more regularly I’m going to have a long list of new topics to blog about. The customer’s questions that I overhear and that are asked of me occasionally will make some great blog posts. Things like “what is the difference between a pansy and a petunia?” and  “can you recommend a small bush that I don’t have to take care of and will grow in the shade, with rocks around it so I don’t have to cut any grass?”

It’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure!

Thanks for indulging me and letting me share with you.

It’s time to plant and learn and feel good again. I truly believe that those three things go hand in hand.

Love, Michele





What’s Happening in the Garden, and With Me –September 14, 2014



I’ll start with the garden.

That’s a good lead in to the “and with me” part. To be honest I don’t know what’s happening with me. Maybe some of you can help with that. The garden is okay in a kind of mediocre way. I’m accepting of my limitations and abilities but I have to admit that I expected more from the garden this year. Maybe it was the relatively dry weather, or my organizational skills, or all of the fun vacations.

When your a gardener you have to spend time in the garden!
DSC04737 That said we still have kale. Is it me or is this photo a bit out of focus? Sometimes I can’t tell.DSC04740 The tomatoes were actually pretty good. A little wilt but not too much and it came very late in the season. I think I want to grow more romas again next year, or maybe a variety called opalka that my friend Betsey shared with me yesterday. Their larger than roma and make a sweet, meaty sauce… I brought some home from a visit with Betsey yesterday and popped just one of them into a little pot of fresh sauce that I made for dinner from some of my tomatoes that needed to be eaten. I think there was a very big difference!DSC04742 I planted quite a bit of cauliflower but it looks like the bunnies, or maybe even deer enjoyed the flowers for us.DSC04744The marketmore cucs are done and I have to say that this variety was a success. We enjoyed lots of pickles and salads and cucumbery things… DSC04738Here’s some later planted swiss chard that just isn’t taking off…DSC04743A few candycane zinnias came up near the chicken coop door. Their cute and happy but not too prolific. DSC04745 I have one, yes one, watermelon still growing. I’m fertilizing it weekly as my neighbor suggested and hoping it makes it through the next few weeks. It’s about the size of a large honeydew melon right now.DSC04747 We had a few cantaloupes almost grow into edible fruit. This one is imploded and slightly rotted. It will be food for another project that I have going so it’s not a total loss.DSC04748 One pumpkin, yes one. This is the year of one, two or three of anything that I worked on over time.DSC04749 Of course the horseradish is happy. I don’t like horseradish but several of our friends and family members do so it will be fun to harvest it in a few weeks.DSC04750 The new little herb garden got off to a decent start. Next year we’ll hit the ground running in this area of the garden.DSC04751 I’ve got pots of potatoes growing. They haven’t flowered and have lots of foliage so I’m kind of unsure about where we’re going here. Generally they flower and then die back and you can dig out the potatoes. So I’m waiting to see what happens. I dug around a little bit the other day and I really think there are some good sized tubers in there.DSC04753 Parsley and basils need to be frozen in ice cube trays for the winter. DSC04754 The onions kind of worked out! Remember when I was inspired by Betsey and Ed and planted them back in the spring? No need to buy onions around here this winter!DSC04755Oh, and then there’s this little project. Guess what’s in the box? Here’s a hint:  It thrives on the cantaloupe.

Okay… about me.

I’m tired and busy and tired and worn out. I want to do right by my family so I took a major blogging break. I don’t think I’ve ever gone so long in between posts. It really has me wondering about what motivates me and what’s that best use of my time. Should I keep blogging? I like to blog because I love connecting with  people all over the world. I like to think that I might encourage or entertain someone somewhere. I definitely feel accountable about what I say here so it keeps me on a good path in the gardening sense and beyond.

Have any of you fellow bloggers gone through this? It’s kind of writer’s block, but almost more like a writer’s resistance. I know what I want to say. I have a long list of posts to write but I wonder about the value of it. Does it matter? Should I just garden for myself and call it a day? No one who I know personally has said a word about my absence. Maybe I shouldn’t expect that, but maybe I should use my energy for other things.

That was a pretty stream of conscious paragraph or two. Thank you, I feel better,

Pioneer Woman used to say “tap, tap… is anyone out there?” She doesn’t need to do that anymore but I guess I could…

Tap, tap… hello?

Leave me a comment or send me an e-mail. I’d entertain any constructive feedback you have to share.

Enjoy everything!

Love, Michele

Just a Simple Crocus

I snuck out for a few minutes this morning to take photos of one of my three, yes three, crocus that are blooming.



I think that this might be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Spring is really, truly here!

I’m sorry I haven’t been around. I was on such a wonderful chicken posting roll and then the reality of life with a large family completely took over. I’ll be back in action very soon.

Love, Michele (that blogger you know who’s getting ready for oldest daughter’s prom, planting seeds, planning several gardens, caring for chickens, pets and people, serving on various community committees and working part time).

The Salem Garden— 2013 in Review

I was thinking about writing my own review for the year but WordPress composes and sends me this one and quite honestly, I like it. It’s fun to read about my top posts and how much traffic I’ve had and where my views come from with these nice graphics and photos. 2013 was quite a year. There was lots and lots of change and adjustment and re-grouping and figuring things out around here. Sending first children off to college isn’t easy, nor is returning to the workforce after seventeen years, or experiencing a terrorist attack, but I did all of that. I’m hoping that 2014 will be full of amazing gardening times and fun family experiences, and maybe some really good posts here at The Salem Garden. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for reading and for all of your love and support. Your all wonderful! xoxo Michele

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.