Life and Gardening. Can the two be separated?

30 Things that Make Me Happy

30 Things that Make Me Happy - Because we need happy things right now more than ever… so - coming to all of us in the northern hemisphere - here are some sure signs of spring!

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Sense of Place

My dog, Barkley, taught me about having a sense of place. This happens, he said, when we develop a sense of belonging; it becomes an extension of ourselves. When we connect, we care; when we care, we protect; when we protect, we try to heal, nourish, and help grow. It becomes our personal truth.

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Garden Overwhelm, Equinox, & Finding Balance
My granddaughter demonstrates how some of us ARE in balance! (And why it's nice to keep a patch of lawn!)

Garden Overwhelm, Equinox, & Finding Balance

If you are like me and some 19 million other people out there (or more), you might be experiencing Garden Overwhelm. This time of year when night equals day (more or less) is a good time to think about our own equilibrium. This post explores how to get back on track, and when all else fails, your dog just might have the answers. Happy Autumn Equinox!

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Spring Blossoms Return! Yay!
Daffodils: I would plant them for no other reason than that they make me happy.

Spring Blossoms Return! Yay!

Such a busy time of year! Sometimes, though, we need to set aside our To-Do lists and take a moment to breathe in the air of spring. Miracles all around us! I just wanted to share a few photos of some of the spectacular flowers blooming right now. SO gorgeous! So very much appreciated after the deep snows of this last winter! Take a quick look, and then go out in your own backyard and take a moment to wander and linger.

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Garden Chaos – The Rest of the Story
I will garden until I croak.

Garden Chaos – The Rest of the Story

The rest of the story... the late summer garden has turned out nothing like what I envisioned in the spring, but in some respects, is so much more. It's hard not to get discouraged when once again, I've truly lost the battle against grass, thistle, and bindweed. Garden chaos rules, but neatness and control are so overrated, are they not? Here were my "Ah ha!" moments.

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On the Wings of March

Walk along a soaked garden path in early March and what do you see? Raindrops, birds, insects, and the world waking up. So amazing, it drove me to write poetry. Herein a poem for March, the wondrous transformations in a garden, and the miracles of spring. They're everywhere. If we build it, they will come.

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The Power of Tea: Herbs for Coping with Grief and Hard Times

There are times in your life when you are blindsided by events that turn everything upside down and inside out. The path forward is not at all clear; the only thing you know is that things will never be the same. This post is about how a cup of herbal tea can help us cope with grief, get some rest when we need it most, boost our immune systems when we are most vulnerable, and get ourselves recentered. We dedicate this post to the memory of our good friend, Andy, who was hit by a drunk driver. Please don't drink and drive.

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Travels in Ecuador

A little break from our regular Barbolian garden chatter: We escaped the Pacific Northwest February drizzle (and snow!) on a trip to Ecuador! How crazy! Turns out, it was one of the best things we ever did. Here is our story of the wonderful people we met, the gorgeous country we traveled through, and a way for me to share our photos with friends and family. Hope you like them! We are looking forward to going back!

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Victory Gardens for Change

The fact is, the greatest changes come from people, not from government. Now is the time to bring back the Victory Gardens of yesteryear. We can change the world, one garden at a time -- together.

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Garden Journal – Do You Have One? How to Make One – and Why?

One of my main goals for the garden this year is to do a better job of tracking things. This post is about ideas for a garden journal, and I would be very interested in hearing from my readers as to what works for them. It seems that garden journals fall into two categories: those that are more like Planners and serve as guidelines, schedules, and a means of recording results for production gardens and small farms – and those that are more like Art Journals that document not only observations but also a spiritual journey, sometimes with a bit of flair and whimsy thrown in for good measure. In the past, I have been on the practical, production side of things – make that, borderline fanatic about recording stats on the garlic crops, but I have always fallen short on keeping track of other things. This year, I'd like to try something different and make something that will be fun to look back on.

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Permaculture Resolutions (and Where Do We Go from Here?)

Happy New Year from Barbolian Fields! We live in "interesting times." This year, we are incorporating Holmgren's Permaculture Princples into our New Year's Resolutions. Our goals, in general, focus on reaching out, buying local, being prepared for uncertainty, optimizing our backyard ecosystems, and keeping things in balance by also taking time to enjoy life. We hope you will join us in making a difference!

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Spring Equinox – a Discovery of Miracles!

It is, at long last, the Spring Equinox. I love this time of year when each new bud is a discovery.

Cornelian and Nanking cherries, forsythia, daffodils, nettles and purple deadnettles, the first dandelions... The first buds of the new season are such an inspiration! Everywhere you turn is another miracle...another bit of magic. This is a somewhat wandering philosophical post, but full of pictures and a quick read.

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Fruits of December

Why isn't the Winter Solstice the beginning of the New Year? Where are the birds & the bees? How many different fruits can we find in the garden in mid-December? Pondering these questions and more…and wishing everyone a season of light and hope!

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It’s Your Day

When a helium balloon lands mysteriously in the Barbolian Fields backyard, what could it possibly mean??? And what could it possibly have to do with blogging or permaculture or anything relevant? You will have to read to find out!

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Earth Day: Plant Something for the Bees!

Whether you recycle, upcycle, bicycle, reduce your footprint, make a footprint, go for a simple walk, plant a tree - so much we can do to celebrate Earth Day! My advice, if nothing else, plant a seed! Take care of our bees and they will help feed the world!

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Identity Crisis 101: The Niche-Diversity-Resiliency Equation

This post is about focus, unfocus, hocus-pocus, and how diversity helps battle adversity. All this and figuring out how to define who you are, what you do, and what you can offer in 24 words or less - which is pretty much an identity crisis. Obviously, I took more that 24 words.

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Spring Equinox: A Tipping Point

At last! We have reached that tipping point: the Vernal Equinox - when day and night are equal. Sunshine ahead! It is more important than ever to plant a garden this year - and in the process, make the world a better place.

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Solstice, Suntracks, Supermoons, and a Happy New Year!

A thank you to those who take time out of your busy schedules to read my crazy blog - and a few thoughts on the solstice, tracking the sun, full moons, new moons, supermoons, holidays, the New Year, and cavorting beneath full moons. Why not? Happy New Year!

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Thanksgiving Connections

Wishing you abundance in your life and in that of all those you touch. May your holiday be full of love and laughter! Thanksgiving is every day - and every day an opportunity to make a difference.

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Garlic for Barter and Trade

What do 3 dozen eggs, 3 bottles of honey, and a beautiful handcrafted dish have to do with garlic? Barter Fare! A new economy is emerging - one that is deeply connected to the earth, self-sufficiency, living simply - one that places more value on human connection than on the almighty dollar - one in which trust, friendship, and the trade of goods and skills can strengthen local communities. And hey, this stuff is just so cool!

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A Quiet Place for Peace
The willow room takes on a life of its own.

A Quiet Place for Peace

The Willow Room in spring takes on a life of its own. Individually, the reeds are supple. They bend with the forces that shape them. Together, however, they are strong - forever interlocked. Recent events in Boston remind us how together we are stronger, and, too, how each of us needs an inner garden sanctuary in which to find peace and make sense of this world.

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Garden Resolutions, Goals, and To-Dos for 2013

Personally, I think New Year's resolutions are over-rated and goal-setting can be counterproductive. A To-Do list, though, Yes! Break it down into action items! Here's what's in store for the garden!

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A Message for Peace

I had to throw out my words today about crazy holiday gift ideas. The recent news of innocent children slain in Newtown make us all question who we, as a human race, have become. Maybe it's time to get back to the garden...

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Food Forest Beginnings and Fall Tasks in the Orchard

Grass, to me, is Orchard Enemy #1. I talk about how to get rid of it, how to turn an orchard into a food forest, and what to do to get your orchard ready for winter, thanks to tips from Michael Phillips' book, The Holistic Orchard.

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The Willow Room Dance

Welcome to my secret garden: the Willow Room. It didn't start out as much - just a few twigs; but it has transformed into something truly magnificent! A place to dance and celebrate autumn!

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Permaculture by Nature

Before we coined the word, "Permaculture," Nature was already perfecting it on her own. Here, Paul Gautschi describes his methods of mimicking nature by applying mulch in his garden. The results? Absolutely amazing! His approach has recently been featured in a film, "Back to Eden." Happy International Permaculture Day!

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Is Your Garden Boring? (The Food-Forest Solution)

Has winter exposed your garden as a bunch of boring rectangles and squares? Do you wish it more replicated real life, running in circles? There is help for people like us. Work WITH nature to transform your labor-intensive squares into a self-supporting food forest.

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A Case of March Madness

Winter doldrums got you down? Beware of March Madness - when everything goes a little crazy - and not just the weather and the weeds. Indulge your compulsion to "buy more plants." They are good for you.

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First Sprouts of Garlic!

Mid-February and the garlic is UP! Tallest in the patch is the Chinese Pink, a Turban variety, but all varieties are making a showing. These hardy little bulbs can handle the rough weather ahead. Just be careful with the mulch!

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Death by Garlic, Revived by Kale

February is a weird month - we get a little bit of everything in the weather department. We do a lot of fantasizing through seed catalogs and are anxious to get our hands back in the dirt. When the winter blues & blahs get you down, our latest kale recipe, "Death by Garlic, Revived by Kale," is sure to bring you around.

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How to Prune an Old Apple Tree

Got pruning phobia? Never fear. This 5-step approach to fruit tree pruning will help you get those old apple trees back into shape in no time! (Well, maybe in a few years, anyway.)

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Reflections, Resolutions, and to All a Good Night

Do you make garden resolutions? I'm going to keep it simple in 2012 - going to make it a year to slow down, linger awhile, and smell the flowers. A garden teaches us so much if we just stop, look, and listen.

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Handmade Christmas Gift Strategy

Ok. We're in countdown-to-Christmas mode. We love the idea of handmade gifts, but finding time to make them is another matter. Here's a strategy on how to manage your time and achieve your wildest dreams. Ok, maybe not that exactly.

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Thank You, Good Earth

Hope your Thanksgiving was full of giving thanks. A few thoughts on gratitude, abundance, and how fortunate we are. Thank you, readers, for following my posts!

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A Somewhat Unconventional Garlic Garden

I tried a little unconventional approach to this year's garlic garden. I built the beds in a series of circles around nitrogen-fixing shrubs and a meandering form that looks a lot like my life - er, I mean, a whirligig. Whatever. I was lost.

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A Memorial Garden Sanctuary

We planted my mother with the dogs in the pet cemetery. It’s true. She would have wanted it that way, right next to her best friend, little Lambchop. It’s not…

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Self-Imposed Limitations, Sustainability, and Creatively Breaking Rules

I’ve hit a turning point. Actually, several of them. In the process, I've been examining my self-imposed limitations, my concept of sustainability, and why now is the best time to break a few rules. Another lengthy psycho-analysis post of how our gardens teach us much about life and visa versa - and what to do about it.

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Square Foot Gardening and Getting a Grip on What You Really Need

Want to grow more food in less space with less effort? The "All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew has the approach you might be looking for. With gas headed skyward, putting away the tiller and growing what you need makes a lot of sense. 100% of the harvest at 50% of the costs, 20% of the space, 10% of the water, 5% of the seeds, and 2% of the work - that makes it a no-brainer.

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