Ginger Martin's Blog

Gardening Isn't for Wimps

Gardening isn't for wimps. It's hard work. Real hard. If you have a garden, this you already know. It needs constant care and attention which, after the end of a long workday, can sometimes seem exhausting. If you have a garden, I also don't need to tell you that the work you put into it is so much worth the effort, if not for the "almost" free food you grow yourself, but for the sheer joy of tending to living things that thank you with their bounty in return.

I love my garden, and if it were my only job to tend to it eight hours a day, seven days a week I would have beautiful plants, no weeds, no bugs and healthy vegetables. This year, I am having a hard time keeping up. I know I'm going to have more cucumbers and zucchini than I could ever eat, and the pleasure of eating fried green tomatoes every night for a month if I want. But there is one plant, just one tiny plant that isn't doing well. It's the one plant that I wanted to thrive the most. It's my hot banana pepper plant. Early on, it had all sorts of blossoms ready to sprout a dozen yummy peppers. Then one day I forgot to water it and it wilted, and the flowers dropped off. I have barely been able to keep it alive, let alone thriving, since then.

Now it is my mission to see that this tiny little plant gets the water and nutrients it needs to be a healthy, living, productive thing. I'm an organic gardener, so I'm not going to pump it full of miracle material to achieve results. I'm just going to give it lots of water, keep the weeds away, and look in on it every day to make sure it is happy. It will be my success story of the summer to have dozens of banana peppers by the end of August. I will make it happen if it kills me . . . or at least until it gives me that "gardener ache" every night when I go to bed. That ache, to me, says a job well done, regardless of the results.
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More Adventures With Truman

Recently a listener asked me if I had any new Truman stories to share.  Since I haven’t blogged about him in a while I thought I’d give an update about what he’s been up to.

Truman has been busy being part of area parades representing Magic 98. I wear a Magic 98 T-shirt and Truman wears his backpack with pockets on either side. I stuff his pockets full of candy and trinkets and we’ll walk up to the little ones on the curb so they can reach into his pockets and pull out a goodie. The kids love it, the parents think it’s adorable, and Truman loves it too. He is such a “people” dog and will just stand patiently while all the little ones swarm to pet him. He will walk up to strangers with ears back and tail wagging thinking he just found his long-lost friend. It warms my heart that he’s so sweet that way and can make another person smile as we walk by.  

We’re still working on his reading vocabulary. Right now we’re up to 10 commands that he can read off flash cards I made. People often don’t believe that he can read, so I plan on making a video and posting it here soon. He constantly amazes me by how smart he is. 

Lately, he’s been showing his naughty side. Sometimes when we’re in the backyard, he’ll get a case of the zoomies and will inevitably make his way into my vegetable garden (since it’s not fenced all the way around) and start digging in the dirt and rolling around in it. When he hears me panicking about him possibly breaking my plants, he’ll stop, do a play bow, give me that naughty look, and start digging in the dirt again--and zip around the yard full speed ahead. I shouldn’t laugh when he does it because it only encourages him, but I can’t help it. He’s cute and it’s funny, and so far no plants have been harmed.

I don’t really know how old Truman is, but we think he’s about eight. He is starting to show signs of hip dysplasia and it makes me sad. He is slowing down already and is starting to get just a little gray around the muzzle. I’m going to start him on Cosequin to see if that will help. He gets so stiff. Doing zoomies around the backyard probably only aggravates his hip pain, but at least he still has the energy to do them every once in a while.
When I got Truman, my initial plan was to make him a therapy dog. I still have plans for that, and we’re going to sign up to take the Canine Good Citizen test so he can get certified to go into specific places like schools and nursing homes. I would love for him to become a dog that kids can read books to, or a dog that brings some joy back to someone living in a nursing home.  

So, that’s my Truman. He can be bad, he can be stubborn (because he’s a Cattle Dog), but all in all, Truman is an exceptionally  great dog. I’m so happy we found each other.          
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Me vs. the Gnats

I’m a big hiker. My goal is to visit all the state parks in Wisconsin, and I have a pretty good start. I love to venture into the woods and hear the birds and see the flora. But there is one thing I do not like about hiking in the woods. It’s the bugs.

This past week, I went hiking with my niece at Blue Mounds State Park. One of the first things we did when we got there was climb the east observation tower. It is such an extraordinary view, and the breeze was lovely on what turned out to be a pretty humid day. While enjoying the view and the breeze, I noticed these black gnats starting to gang up on us. Gang up on ME, I should say.  They were so small they looked like little black dots flying around, but they did some major damage. They became so thick we had to climb down the tower just to get away from them. 

Well, during our hike my niece looked over at me and said, “Ummm….you have blood dripping down your neck.”  I reached up and touched my neck and when I pulled my hand away it was covered as if someone had sliced me open. Not only was I dripping blood from my neck but I noticed I had several large welts all over the back of my neck. The GNATS!  Ugh. 

I discovered that black gnats, when they bite you, inject an anti-coagulant so they can more easily get a meal. Hence the horror-movie scene in the middle of the woods. Who would have thought that a tiny speck of a bug could cause such damage? Let this be a lesson to you. Bug repellent. Have it handy every time you go into the woods. I know I will from now on. . . .

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Sara Freeman
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