Spring Garden, Black Widow, and Beautiful Weather!

Spring Garden with overgrown tomatoes….

I don’t have a lot of space to garden.  This property is only 1/4 of an acre, the usual of old Atlanta (pre WWII ) lots.  But even a fourth of an acre can be too much  soil to cultivate.

Twenty years ago we sectioned off the property: Front and more Formal garden, (the residence of the cats…) a back yard  dedicated to our various dogs,  a further 50 x 50 foot area for whatever ….  Recently we got rid of  ‘stuff’ (motorcycles, sports cars, etc…things that were ailing ) planted grass there and this year…for the first year in many, we have a full, lush lawn where the dogs have controlled for too many years.  That grass is my husband’s delight as he spends many nights out there raking, fertilizing, reseeding and mowing that turf.  You CAN have a lawn with dogs, it’s just a constant task of cleaning after them and reseeding where they dig up.  And that we have an eight month old puppy doesn’t help much.  Daphne was a rescue from the expressway when she and her sister were left, at three months old, on a ramp by some devil, and she is gorgeous.  She’s chocolate like a lab with the undercoat of a German Shorthaired pointer. She has green eyes. Why would anyone do such a thing is beyond me.



The pup is having

A good run at new life.

She gleams in the morning sun

Her sturdy lab/pointer form

Delighting in chasing the puzzled hens.


They, four times her size

Scatter, cluck and plan revenge

At the bottom of the garden.


This means nothing to her.

She charges, barks , thinking

They are wind-up toys for her chewing.


It will take some painful experience,

A few gaffing-by-spurs

A fury of taloned feet

The pummel of hell-fire wings

Before she learns her place

In this Peaceable Kingdom.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2012

In all these years, I have never seen a Black Widow Spider, but there one was, under the stone bench I sit on to wash down the dogs.  My husband moved the bench, called me over, and wow…they are much bigger than I imagined.  Shiny black, with a red pattern on her belly.  She was clutching a sack of eggs….and husband decided that it would be best for her and kin to sail through the air to neighbor’s deserted property. She landed in the grass, so my husband said.  Let her reproduce over there.

The weather has been amazing this spring.  Usually we re racked by storms, dangerous thunderstorms, uprooted trees, heavy winds, but this year??? It’s a cool spring with the temps barely reaching the 80’s.  The nights are so cool we have to sleep with quilts still.  Last year we had 4 months of 90 and over temps, and so far….nothing like that hell.

I wandered out to my garden today, just to ‘look-see’.  I’m not a great gardener, and about 20 years ago we closed off the side driveway for a garden and an area to sunbathe.  This year I planted another rose garden there, taking up about 6×6 feet of vegetable space, but it seems the few crops we plant are doing ok.  I raised some tomato seed given by my neighbor a few years ago.  We had no idea what ‘kind’ of tomato seed, but it produced a strange, tobacco-leafed plant that grew out of the tomato cages, flopped over and started again towards the sky.  We think now what we had were “Brandywine” seed, and this year I found the seed again and planted about 30 tomatoes….I kept about 20 and gave the rest away. Too many for my small garden.  I have gone out there in rain and wind and watched them grow over the past few months, amazed at their vigor:  I  overfertilized with too much chicken manure and had to replace a few burned plants…but they got their feet under them and started to grow.  This pix below is of one that has caught my eye: it’s so big that I can’t get my hand around the bottom, but still green.  The plants are loaded with fruit, all green right now, but when they are ready to eat, there are going to be too many of them at the same time.  I forsee a lot of canning this summer.

Very large Brandywine tomato

And fried green tomatoes! I planted some pumpkins, not knowing the claiming of territory pumpkins do. They are that particular French pumpkin, “Rouge vif D’Etampes”, nicknamed “Cinderella” because they look like her carriage: squashed slightly in the middle.  Last year I bought one at Whole Foods, and made two pies with them.  They were incredible, sweet and beautiful to look at before I used them.  I saved the seeds, and planted about 4 pumpkins….one has trailed out the fence to my neighbor, where it sits in the shade growing big.  He can have that one.  I post a shot of another growing on what was supposed to be my cucumber lattice, but the pumpkins have taken over ….how this pumpkin is going to make it to the ground to grow I don’t know: it’s suspended about 4 feet from the soil. Seems happy, though.

(That picture didn’t post in the right place…it’s that yellow, globe that sits at the top of this entry.)

I am supposed to be working on a collection of short stories for publication this fall.  It is hard to sit inside and write, rewrite mostly, and do the necessary work for another book.  I would rather be outside, digging in the soil, and I have clutched in my hand right now a packet of parsnips.  They are a lovely vegetable, not eaten enough here.  So….I am heading outside, and going to till up the little space that the pumpkins have left me for another vegetable.  Later, I might take some papers out and flop on the rotting wicker chaise lounge. Reading is possible until the sun gets hot overhead.

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8 Responses to “Spring Garden, Black Widow, and Beautiful Weather!”

  1. Steve E Says:

    Gosh, a green thumb–I didn’t know chicken manure was green. Any more than the ‘cheesy-green’ moon. You peeps are really enjoying this season! And when you blog it, the happiness spreads. LOVE it!

    “Daphne was a rescue…….left, at three months old, on a ramp by some devil, and she is gorgeous.” left me with this immediate first thought: Moses floating down the waterway…

    Thanks for a nice “Spring read”. Always a pleasure, I have two unexcused absences for here, but I could get a doctor to sign, OK?–grinning!


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Steve! I need to get over to your blog today….you can see what I have been doing with my time….mostly.

    Chicken manure is hot, hot, hot, and can burn very easily. But once it is settling down, it is a terrific fertilizer. I have a large 55 gallon barrel (plastic) under my roof in the garden, and I throw in chicken shit there and water the roses…they love it. I don’t use anything else anymore. Gets results constantly.

    Daphne: she is so beautiful and I have to spend more time with her. Luckily, the two other dogs like her, tolerate her, and having a destructive puppy around…well, this WILL be my last puppy.

    I knew you had been sick before, and I am sorry I have been out of touch. Thank you, dear friend for reading and your lovely comment. Had a terrible time trying to post these pix…..LOL!



  3. leahJlynn Says:

    Wow, your yard looks very is very lovely in a homey much love is in there way. I thought the poem of the dog was cute, and true when it comes to learning.


  4. claudia Says:

    nice…all the best for your short story collection and i never saw a Black Widow Spider in my life…luckily we don’t have them over here… no dangerous spiders, no lions, no poisonous snakes..germany seems to be a pretty safe country..smiles…have to try fried green tomatoes though..


  5. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Claudia…

    No poisonous snakes in Germany? No lions? I would miss the lions. Germany sounds pretty safe for now…one can never tell about the future.

    You should try fried green tomatoes….put a little sugar in the flour before frying….because those tomatoes are tart.

    Thanks, Claudia….



  6. ladynyo Says:

    Hey Leah! So glad you stopped by.

    The garden, yard…well, they are both developing…the tomatoes look great this year for only 15 plants. I usually do as the Mennonites do: quarter them and freeze them in freezer bags, but this year I think I will have enough to make tomato paste or sauce at least. and good eating off the vine.

    When they are really ripe, I wander into that garden with a salt shaker and just eat off the vine….a great breakfast.

    Daphne is sneaky, and just this week, tunnelled herself into the chicken yard and ate all the eggs. I only have 7 hens, because earlier Daphne (helped by my Marmaduke Shepherd), killed two beautiful hens. Old, but still producing.

    I had a wonderful dashie who used to get spurred by the hens and I was constantly sewing her up….

    Thanks for reading and your sweet comment.



  7. Nick Says:

    For someone who claims to be “not a great gardener” you’re doing fantastically well with those tomatoes and pumpkins! And your backyard with the wicker chaise longue looks so lovely. I enjoyed the poem about Daphne, what a rascal she seems to be – clearly making the most of her second chance at life!


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Hiya Nick! LOL! regarding the garden…it’s a jungle out there now…..Fred had to take the rototiller to a small patch of earth for me to even get in there for the parsnips!

    And,….I seriously burned the soil right before I put in the tomatoes a few months ago. About two. I rototilled in two bags of chicken manure, and though that stuff wasn’t ‘hot’…in that volume for a garden that is only 6-25 feet….or less, it was burning the new seedlings. I had to replace about 5 tomatoes with extra. Raised the tomatoes from seed….and wasn’t sure until recently ‘what’ kind of tomato it was. Want some seed this fall??? I’ll be glad to send….they apparently are Brandywine….a wonderful, thin skinned tomato, very deep red inside and BIG. Very good taste and juicy.

    I stupidly had no idea how much space pumpkins took in growing….now I know…and they are already reaching out to the 6 foot high tomatoes…attaching themselves daily to the wire cages…which are just about doing nothing to contain anything.

    So….chicken shit is the fertilizer that really feeds…and we will have to see what happens here. NEXT year, I will pull back on the manure and not plant the pumpkins there…they will have to be in the front yard. LOL!

    That wicker chaise longue is actually right next to the pumpkins…or parsnips. I had a concrete pad put out there for a car…but we haven’t used it for that purpose yet. Keep planting stuff in pots…like lavender and roses and geraniums because it gets such full sun out there. With a heavily shaded property, I have to use all the sun I can get!

    Daphne: She’s a rascal indeed….but she seems to have outgrown her chicken killing days….I am hoping.

    But you have two new babies…and how are they doing? The videos and pix you sent of them are so wonderful…..



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