Sunday, December 17, 2017

Archive for March, 2002

Up the Garden Path

Dear Mothers of the Gardens,

I wanted to write again today about some more things I do with my flowers that grow by the sidewalk that goes up to my front door.

At garage sales, I find old china for harldly nothing. It’s pieces that are chipped but still pretty. Well, I use the small plates to set among my flowers. I may set a little brown clay pot on it with small flowers grwoing in it. I have a big china serving tray that is chipped, and I use this to sit upright against the house in back of the flowers. You could set big pretty plates all along the foundation of your house and have a lot of pretty flowers growing in front of them. Often, over the summer, they will break more and you can still use the pieces for next year. Stuck in the dirt, you cant tell if they are broken or not.

Also, in the spring and summer and well into the fall, I lay colorful rag rugs up our home walk to the front door. It looks down home.

One year, I grew a huge milkweed in my front yard. It was beautiful and folks thought it was an exotic flower. It had a big purple bloom on it. Papa had a fit and made me take it down. Well, it was up for a while, anyway. “Do you want milkweeds growing all over the front yard?” he asked me. Well, heck, I didnt care. I thought it was pretty.

I plant catnip everywhere in my yard, too, among other herbs. My cat loves it. And he is gifted. His dog house is full of last year’s dried herbs. And he is lazy and lolls about all summer in his bed of herbs. He never worries about anything … well, usually not. His name is Chuck. Anyway, he is another story for another time.

But back to flowers. I let huge sunflowers grow up by the house, too, and, yes, in the front yard. Well, the wildlife love it. I can sit in my living room and watch goldfinches and other rare birds come and eat of the sunflower seeds. It is such a treat to me to watch them. Sometimes, by the end of the summer, you can hardly get in my front door. But you should see all the fluttering colorful butterflies that play among my Bachelor Buttons and Zennias. I mean, I could plant all this in the backyard but I would never get to see it. And, especially on a lazy summer afternoon, I love to sit on my sidewalk step on a comfortable rag rug and enjoy the flowers and butterflies.

Of course, the teenagers and their friends get such a kick out of my front yard. It’s OUT OF THE BOX thinking, and this stuff thrills teenagers, ya know? Mary said that her friend Lacy, when she comes over, the kids left in the car want to come in and meet me. Just because of how my front yard looks. This is all a true story, but I am laughing so hard as I write it. It doesn’t even seem true.

But I let flowers and herbs grow where they take a liking. I just feel that if they came up in a certain spot, then they must like it there and will grow well. Some are so spoiled and ornery. I just laugh at them when folks say “Sooo what have you got growin’ here?” But Papa keeps my feet on the ground (unfortunately), and when I am not looking, he will snatch out of the ground some start of a sunflower plant. Especially if he can hardly get through the front door. Our neighbor, Chuck next door — our cat was named after him — could kill me for all the morning glories I encourage to grow on his fence between our houses. Well, I have tried to quit that. My neighbors are always trying t keep me and my wild flower children out of their yard. But they are all good to me.

Connie H

Flowers and Herbs

In the springtime, the old fashioned mothers would love going outside and cleaning up their yards and planting flowers. I never understood why the old timey mothers loved flowers so much. Well, I do now. They are gorgeous and they are free.

The children and I used to go for walks in the springtime, just around the neighborhood. We always noticed that the poor families had the most beautiful flowers. The flowers were their luxuries, their riches. Oh, the more well-to-do would buy the potted plants and put them in front of their homes to play a part. But the poorer mothers had to use the 10 cent seeds and they lovingly cared for them and, oh, their creations were so simple and lovely! The stay at home mother is there to guide her young plants and to baby them and make them grow.

In front of my house, I have moonplants. Oh, they are so lovely. They bloom in the evenings after the sun goes down. One year, they tried to come in the front door. I would just gently nudge them to the side as they tried to follow me in. I have Bachelor Buttons that come up every year next to the moon flowers. I have these planted on either sides of my front walk, up by the door. They aren’t up yet, of course, but hopefully today, I can go out and rake away the leaves and make it look pretty for Easter Holiday.

During the winter, I like to make crafts with potpouri that I buy and some that I still have from making my own. I mix it all together. So what I will do today is clean out the leaves on either side of the walkway to the front door, and then I will fill it all with the old potpouri I have in the house. It will look pretty for the Holidays. I may plant some lettuce, too, along the walkway. It’s almost spring here in Iowa. But we have had huge snow storms in April. But the lettuce won’t mind.

I also have hanging dried yarrow in the house that I will take down and put in the dog house as bedding. I will do that with all of the hanging herbs that went through the winter. Our cat sleeps in the dog house in the summer under the plum tree. He loves rolling in old dried herbs.

Also, on either side of the walkway to my front door, I have lambs ears growing. They are the soft white leaves that feel like baby lambs ears. They are just coming up. And I have the purple yarrow. Also chives. They come back each year.

One year at a garage sale, I found loads of those little fish aquarium rocks. They were so pretty, and I used them to put around my flowers. They were all different colors, so tiny and pretty.

Also each year, I buy some of those little bird houses from the Dollar Store, the little ones are only a buck or 2. They look cute, as they have a stick at the bottom, and you can just stick them in the ground among your flowers. Also, I took a little toy rabbit last year and hid it in the flowers. One of those little white rabbit banks? The neighbor children got a kick out of it.

I found an old cowboy boot flower pot and I filled that with flowers and put it up by my front door. It looked like Papa had lost his boot. I mean, you could plant a flower in any old shoe or boot.

Also last year at the dollar store, they had the old galvanized milk buckets. I just love mine. They were 3 bucks I think. But a country mother could fill them with dirt and use them for flower pots.

I love the red geraniums to plant in pots. This way, I can bring them in the house when Autumn comes. But right now, I am just doing the front walk until it warms up and I am sure it wont snow again.

But we, as country mothers, need to yield ourselves to our gardens and be happy and trust in the Lord.


So many of you mothers are so busy, I wanted to tell you a quick way to make a garden.

Well, you need A LOT of hay. Just pick a place for your garden. Don’t plow it up. Just pile hay in an area of maybe 10 by 10 feet. Make it about a foot thick. Do this a few weeks before you need to plant your garden, very well after a frost.

See, the hay laid on that thick will kill all the weeds under it. So when you begin to plant, just part the hay in rows and plant your seeds. Part it good enough so that the sun will get to your rows. Plant your seeds and water them very well. Make sure you water enough that the water goes at least 6 inches down into the ground. Otherwise, you will only be watering the top of the ground and nourishing your weeds.

When the plants begin to come up, just tuck the hay back around the plants so that no weeds will come up. Now, you will have to keep adding hay as you go, because the hay will break down. So just keep adding hay so that no weeds can come up.

Now, to nourish your garden, put old potato peelings and all kinds of garbage under the hay. Hide it under there daily. Like old eggshells and peelings of every kind … anything that will rot … stick it under the hay. Left over spaghetti? Just hide it good under the hay. Now, if you have chickens or goats or whatever, and you have the old hay from their bedding … Wow! That will be wonderful to put on your garden.

Say, for instance, you are planting tomatoes. Instead of staking them up, just keep adding clean hay around them and let them fall into the mounds of hay. Put the old manured hay underneath and the new hay on top. If you get an early frost in the fall, you can just cover the tomato plants at night with more clean hay, and then, when the sun comes up the next morning, scoot the hay away and let the sun shine in.

When I use my wringer washer in the summer, I empty it by hand in buckets and then I carry it to my gardens to water my plants. The old soapy water keeps the ground pliable and it kills bugs from your plants.

Now, if you are interested in this method of gardening, then get some of Ruth Stout’s writings. She had gardens when she was really old, like in her 90’s, using this method. The only time you dig up anything is when you go to plant. Then it’s more and more hay. Anything you don’t want in your yard, just pile hay on it and let it die.

Now, I just could never get ahold of that much hay. Papa gets sick of hauling it. But, for you ladies with farms and you have old hay from the animals’ bedding, you have a gold mine on your hands. That old bedding hay would make a garden like you wouldn’t believe.

But I hardly ever throw my old peelings in the garbage. I always take them out to my garden, even in the winter. All of my old bread, I throw out to the birds, as the bird droppings are good for your soil. Wildlife in your yard is good for the soil… well, as long as the life isn’t too wild or too lively … but I mean birds and squirrels.

Now, I use no — absolutely no — poisons in my yard to kill things, like bugs. The lady next door comes out with her bottle of bug spray and I shudder. Because I let herbs grow like naughty unruly children all over my yard. They grow where they wanna and never stay in the herb garden, and that’s ok with this mother. The more the merrier. Herbs are just plain stinkin’ fun. But I make tea with most of them and I don’t want bugspray in my morning tea, thank you.

Related Links:

Mulching Ruth Stout Style – Ruth Stout was all about mulch. Layers, piles, heaps, mounds, and more. She captured Organic Gardening readers’ attention with her passion for no-work gardening. In this vintage entry from How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method, Stout addressed readers’ FAQs about her approach to gardening.

by Barbara Bamberger Scott

Ruth Stout and Permanent Hay Mulch : Mother Earth News Full text of the article from Mother Earth News, a publication in the field of Home & Garden, Issue # 172 – February/March 1999.

The Sister Roses

I have old-fashioned Seven Sister Roses right outside my dining room window. They are asleep now but, in the spring, they will wake up and put on their prettiest pink party frocks. They tease me all spring through my dining room window to come outside and play. As I write in the spring, I can see them teasing, bobbing and bowing, outside in the sunlight. They gossip and fret because they are in my kitchen garden, and this humbles them and causes them to bow in shame.

I try not to waste any of the blooms, but I have to catch them quickly before they fade. I snip the blooms with scissors in the early mornings. They are tiny roses, about seven on each stem. So I use them to make Rose Vinegar, for one thing. Also, I cut long branches of them and hook them over my doorways in the dining room. Or I lay them in my chandelier over the family table. I am very generous with them, and extravagant. Sometimes I float them over a china tea cup of herb tea … it’s nice for company. When they are just coming into bloom, I try to pick them and keep them fresh on the table in a vase. Often, I can put sprigs of new fresh herbs in with them to keep them company.

At the end of the season, I take what blooms are left and just put them in a lightly weaved basket, and they dry nicely on their own. I have to turn them here and there when I think of it. They make some nice potpourri. I start with them and continue to add flowers to my basket as they bloom in the spring and throughout the summer. Often, I have taken a bouquet of them, wrapped in a homemade cotton hanky, to a friend’s house for a hostess gift.

To make the Rose Vinegar, I just take a nice jar and fill it with hot, but not boilng, white vinegar. And then I stuff the jar with roses and pretty leaves. Then I put my jars in a sunny window and let them brew for a long time, at least a few weeks. I use my Rose Vinegar for a rinse for my hair. After I shampoo my hair, I fill a jar almost to the top with hot water. Then I put some Rose Vinegar in it, about a fourth cup. Then I rinse my hair with it.

Well, I had better go. Shhhhh. It’s almost spring and the sisters will be waking up, and they will be teasing me again to come out and play, and to make Rose Vinegar and potpourri, and to wrap them in homemade cotton hankies.

Yielded Hands

To yield your hands to righteousness means we yield our hands to the dish water and the dirty bathtub, to scrub it out. Wise women are not stubborn; they yield to God and to His calling to Keepers at Home. We walk by faith and not by sight.

To the wife who needs her husband to come back? She doesn’t yield herself to doubt and unbelief. She yields herself to faith and she cooks her husband’s supper, even though, maybe, she doesn’t know where he is. She draws him home by her faith. She isn’t stubborn toward God and His move of the Holy Spirit. She doesn’t greive the Holy Spirit by walking and talking unbelief. She doesn’t bad mouth her husband. She yields her tongue to righteousness. She shuts her mouth when satan wants her to open her mouth and curse her husband, who is her home. Her body is under the control of the Holy Spirit.

We must yield our bodies to wisdom, first in our minds and spirits, and then we must shackle our own flesh and hands. See, this is so vital. It’s so important that we catch this, because as we RECEIVE THIS WISDOM, we are inviting it into our homes. We are inviting homemaking into our homes. We birth it as a woman’s spirit of homemaking. But it will come over our men as a calling to him to be the head of the home. It will call your man to his place as Priest of the home. This is what happend to Jim and was part of his healing of his mind.

Wisdom is stability. What if a squirrel didn’t have wisdom? He would die in the winter without any food. Well, we women haven’t died because the grocery store has fed us. But many of us are the walking dead. We have lost our spirit, our spunk, our places as Keepers at Home. Satan has ripped our insides out. Our spirits have been taken from us. It’s a wonder we can get up in the morning. We are cars who have run out of gas, and we push ourselves uphill every day.

But wisdom is our joy, our natural call from God. And whatever it takes to hear her voice, we had better get on it. Our wombs are a spiritual organ. We are to move from what it teaches us. It’s our nest. As we move by the Holy Spirit from our nest, our families get in order.

With wisdom a house is built. This is why, when our older kids go haywire, we keep walking in our homemakeing. We claim deliverence for the childrn and we keep walking in our faith and building our homes. Because, as we do, we are bringing the spirit of homemaking to our children and husbands. We can’t go about mindlessly doing homemaking, thinking this will have any power. No, it doesn’t. But we must add faith to it. We see our children as made whole in God, and we claim the word over them and then we walk by faith. We keep making our homes and being wise builders of our nests. Because Satan wants us to give up and say, “Well, what’s the use? My kids are no good. What good did it do for me to build up my home?”

Well, like the scriptures say, the wise man builds his house upon the rock and the rains come tumbling down and the floods come up. But the house on the rock stands firm. And we build our houses on the rock.

Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our God, and He would not leave us forsaken as His daughters. He has sent us wisdom.

Makin’ Cookies

Yesterday, I made these old time cookies. I really made them for Papa because he loves them. I didn’t think the teenagers would especially like them, but they really did. I thought I would just have them for Papa’s lunch sack to take to work every day. Well, I made a lot, so I will have some for his lunch, too.

But, anyway, they are the oatmeal cookies from the Better Homes And Garden cookbook. I mean, that’s the basic recipe. But back in the 70’s, we mothers made these oatmeal cookies and added many things to them to make them really healthy. Then we let our little ones have them whenever they were needing a snack. We, of course, added the walnuts and raisins. But I sometimes would add sunflower seeds or apples. Yesterday, I added coconut (about a cup), raisins, walnuts, and chocolate chips. I always add more oatmeal to my cookies than what the recipe says because I want my cookies to be fat and plump, not like pancakes. Well, you can add lots of spices, too. I think the recipe said cinnamon and nutmeg. But I have added ginger and ground cloves too.

I had brought some to my neighbor’s yesterday and she made tea. The cookies and tea were so good together.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies. I just won’t make cookies if I can’t make a lot. I think it’s silly to get out your bowl and go to all that work for just a few dozen cookies. I like to make a lot so I can share them and have plenty for desserts and Papas lunch sack.

The same with cakes. I always make a big 9×13 cake pan of cake. When Papa and I were first married, I used to make a lot of applesauce cake. Now I would make that in a small pan as it was so rich. I may make one of those today. The kids always want chocolate cake and chocolate chip cookies, so I get into a rut. Do you?

I forget about all the old-fashioned spice cakes. In the 70’s, we used lots of spices. Now, I guess I have been more into herbs. But we used to make a lot of pumpkin bread. I cooked a butternut squash a few days ago and I have some left. I think today I will make pumpkin bread with that. The butternut squash is so delicious in baking. It tastes like pumpkin but with a nutty flavor. I have used it in place of pumpkin to make a pie. Ooohm you wouldn’t believe how good that is … it tastes like pumpkin pie with walnuts in it.

Anyway, would you believe, I still have my pumpkin from Thanksgiving. It is in my pantry and it is just fine. I should use it, though. What I may do with it is this. I will cut it in half and clean it out real good. Then I make vegetable soup. Then I will pour the soup in the pumpkin shell and bake it until the pumpkin is cooked. Now, you have to have a good strong pumpkin for this. Mine is really fat and plump, so it can be used as a nice pot for soup. Of course, I will roast the seeds, too. I just take the seeds and wash them and put them in a jar of salt water. In a day or so, I will take them out and let them drain. Then I will roast them.

Well, I had better get goin’ and get that started before Mary has to get up for homeschool.


I am late this morning and I hadn’t planned to write, but the Holy Spirit is on me so strong that I guess I can’t do anything else. My heart grieves this morning for the home making spirit. She is probably Mary to you Catholic ladies. To me, she is called Wisdom and she lives in the Proverbs. She calls to us as mothers to come home to come to our places as wives, mothers and Keepers at Home. To me, she is Elizabeth and Sarah and all of the women in the Bible, but she speaks through the voice of wisdom. To me, she is the female side of the Holy Spirit. All of this bears out in Proverbs.

But I am so grieved this morning as I write. I long so to call the mothers home and back to their nests. As I prayed this morning, I said “Oh, Father, I am so happy that I have a place for two gardens in my yard.” I praised the Lord for my fruit trees and for my herbs that grow naturally in my yard.

I long for spring and to see my roses again. Oh, my beautiful tea roses. I have never missed spring before as I love the winter, and the natural flow of the seasons sort of flow as I would have them. But lately, my heart calls for spring, the smell of the fresh plowed earth. So she calls me this morning. I long to see my flowers again.

I long to fill my root cellar as the fruits progress and grow.

First will come the rhubarb and the spring herbs.

Hopefully my magnolia trees will be ok and bloom this year.

I long for my olive tree that we had to cut down and and haven’t planted another one yet. The olive branches stand for Peace, Prosperity, Children, Anointing, Health and Joy. Last year. I looked into planting olive bushes, but the garden shop said they were not disease resistant. I wish now that I had gone along by faith and planted them anyway. I could have prayed over them and the Lord would have kept them.

Oh, this morning I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I long to sit with my pretty herbs and work in my garden. When I sit and tend my herbs, I get lost in my own little world. I used to scold myself for sitting out by the front step and playing with my herbs, planting and weeding. But now, as I think of it, I think the Lord’s angels were there with me. Certainly, wisdom was with me. Speaking to me of herb teas and home remedies. Speaking to me of ways to dry my herbs and make oils with them.

I long for bunches of country flowers to put on my table with the herbs intermingled.

In the summer, when all of my herbs are growing and I have plenty, I feel like the richest woman in my town. I am the richest woman in the world because of Papa. But my herbs make me feel so happy and rich in midsummer.

Last summer, I had four kinds of mint. I hope they will all come up this spring again. I plant many new kinds of herbs every year, but they don’t all make it through the Iowa winters. Basil, I plant every year. That is a “must have” for me. Basil is one of my favorites. I love to have bouquets of it to put on the table with wild flowers. I need some to hang up and dry. And I have to have a lot of fresh basil to use all summer and into fall. I can never have too much basil.

Oh, as I write I so long for spring.

This morning, I got up after Papa. He understands me well enough to see that I am heavily grieved this morning. I asked him if I could write this morning, as it would help me to write about wisdom and my garden. Papa knows my heart and knows I need this private quiet time. He knows….

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