Tag Archives: gardening

Summer In My Garden: Reflections

fullsizeoutput_3236

This past month has been a challenge in many ways and I think my recent gardening experiences are particularly illustrative.  As you may recall, I began the season by planting four raised beds consisting of: broccoli, edamame, cabbage, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, spaghetti squash, eggplant, jalapenos, bell peppers and three types of tomatoes.  I know, I got carried away.  To date, the edamame has finished its growing cycle, the cabbage and broccoli were eaten by critters and are now gone, the cucumbers jalapenos and bell peppers are producing well, as are the tomatoes and I have a few gorgeous eggplants almost ready to harvest.  Unfortunately, the pumpkins and squash were attacked by an infestation of stink bugs and I’ve been fighting that battle the last few weeks.  I have managed to salvage five pumpkins and three spaghetti squash, and for that I am grateful.

I first noticed the nasty pests a couple of weeks ago during my daily maintenance.  I’d spotted a couple here and there, but that particular day, there was a total infestation.  I was, of course, completely grossed out and heartbroken.  Until that point, the garden was my best one yet, and everything looked gorgeous!  I researched some websites for help and information.  That same evening, my husband and I were out to dinner at a neighborhood restaurant and who wanders in, but my next-door neighbors who have lovely gardens!  I lamented my plight and they recommended a pesticide they’ve used that they swore would work.  When I returned home, lo and behold these lovely friends had left a can of the stuff on my back fence.  The next morning, we went to work applying the poison.  I crossed my fingers and left the yard.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve sprayed, weeded, removed dead leaves and had to make some tough decisions about what to save and what is beyond saving.  I’ve also had to come to terms with the fact that the promise of my beloved vegetable garden will not fully be realized. I’ve learned to take pride and joy in the small successes, like the five healthy pumpkins and three small but beautiful spaghetti squash, and I’ve focused a lot of energy on the crops that were not harmed, like the tomatoes, eggplants and peppers.

So, like in life, not everything turns out as planned, but everything has its own season.  I can stew (no pun intended) on the failures or give attention and love to the things I can control.  I can grieve over what might have been, or revel in the successes that came my way.  In the end, I can take satisfaction that I gave it my best effort, learned some new things and know that this will all come around again next year when I will have the chance to start fresh.  All in all, this year’s garden is still my most successful one to date and that is something to celebrate.

 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Filed under Fun Savvy, Self Savvy, Uncategorized

A Milestone Birthday and Summer in My Garden

qdbqbA7dSieQmTBxEEwPzA

Today is a milestone birthday for me.  But, savvy woman that I am, this post was written in advance, so I’ll share some reflections as I close out this decade of my life.

As I’ve shared in this blog, I have spent the summer helping two of my adult children move apartments, traveling and growing a vegetable garden.  It occurs to me that all of these activities share some common themes: putting down roots, exploring the world outside of home and engaging in strenuous physical activity.  These themes have defined my life and pretty much describe my personal outlook.  I believe in strong roots, connection to my culture and home.  I believe that a secure foundation helps us feel confident about leaving home to seek out new experiences, be they far afield or in our own environs.  I also believe that a strong sense of identity helps us create our own values and keeps us afloat in a turbulent world.  And physical activity builds strength, both inside and out.  Developing the discipline required to commit to exercise or sports keeps mind and body engaged.

At one point during the latest move for my son, as I was schlepping yet another box from the truck to his apartment, I looked at him and proudly reminded him of my age.  He smiled and said, “I know mom, you and dad aren’t like other parents.”  Well, that may or may not be true, but I felt good knowing I’ve maintained my health and fitness and can enjoy an active life.  I plan to continue working towards greater strength and stamina and look forward to another physical challenge (though the next move will involve professionals!).

This last ten years has been one of incredible emotional growth for me, and for my family.  Our move to Nashville was difficult.  Much of the time I have felt like a small dinghy being blown about in a storm.  I’ve struggled to find my balance and today I am stronger for weathering it.  I’ve built a great life, found amazing friends, started a business and created a comforting home.  The toughest part these days is living away from my children.  In fact, each of us lives in a different city.  I’ve worried that leaving their childhood home would make them feel adrift as well.  I’ve come to realize that they are creating their own homes and building lives that is unique to each of them.  I also now, finally, understand that we are always a family, regardless of where we live.  When we come together, we are as we’ve always been, The Dab Family.  And, this weekend, they have all planned a wonderful family vacation to celebrate my birthday.  I am truly a lucky woman and have much for which to be grateful.

And as for my garden, well, it’s a little out of control.  I have four rather large pumpkins developing, several spaghetti squash, gobs of cucumbers, bushels of tomatoes and some tired sunflowers.  The broccoli and cabbage have not thrived, but the jalapenos are doing great.  I’ve made a batch of fresh gazpacho and grilled some zucchini.  All in all, it’s been a successful summer season.

My hopes for my future have evolved, too.  I no longer wish for material things, bigger houses, more prestigious career moves.  Instead I wish to continue on the path I’m already traveling.  I wish for more years to enjoy my husband and children.  I wish for more joy, good health, connection to my community and my spirituality.  I wish for contentment and to recognize when I have enough and when I am enough.  I wish for these things for all of you, too.  Oh, and world peace (ref. “Miss Congeniality,”).

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Filed under Fun Savvy, Self Savvy, Uncategorized

My Summer Garden

fullsizeoutput_2fcb

My backyard in Los Angeles was an oasis. We had green space, a large pool, spa, four different citrus trees, a concrete sports court and a patio with a barbecue and seating. And since the weather was good all year, we really made use of our outdoor space. We had pool parties in January, and cookouts in August. But the one thing I never did in L.A. was grow vegetables. Ironically the great year round weather lulled me into feeling I’d get to it eventually, but never did. I did try planting pumpkins with my kids a couple of times, but they didn’t take, so we gave up.

Now that we live in an urban neighborhood near downtown Nashville, I feel a strong desire to turn our cozy little backyard into my garden retreat. So for the past couple of weekends, my husband and I have been researching, shopping, prepping, building and planting. And our city garden retreat is nearly finished. We have four raised beds filled with vegetables, two baskets of herbs, we cleaned and moved an old abandoned dog house into the yard for our fur baby, “Bentley,” planted a row of sunflowers (my mother’s favorites) for privacy and fun and built a rain barrel to give all these plants some fresh rain water. I plan to add some seating, maybe some garden sculpture and maybe even a water feature.

This is a pretty ambitious plan for me. I’ve never been very good at maintaining houseplants; in fact most of my indoor plants are artificial. But I just feel drawn to getting outside, digging in the dirt and growing food we will actually eat. There’s just something so satisfying about cooking with tomatoes you’ve grown yourself, snipping some fresh mint for a mojito (!) or baking some zucchini bread with fresh squash. I also feel more relaxed after a productive session working in the garden. And since I am once again a city dweller, gardening brings some peace and beauty to an otherwise hectic environment.

Beginning with this post, I’ll be sharing my summer garden experiences and pictures as it grows. If you have tips, advice or anything to share about your garden adventures, please comment here. I’d looooove to hear about your successes and your failures. As my garden grows, so do I!

fullsizeoutput_2fc5

fullsizeoutput_2fc8fullsizeoutput_2fcd

fullsizeoutput_2fc7

 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Fun Savvy, Self Savvy, Uncategorized

To Trim, or Not to Trim

Enter a caption

2016-04-11 12.35.15 copy

My friend Marina sent me a note today, and I asked her if I might share it with you.  She said, “Regular therapy and gardening therapy are about the same price range.  They both create a special type of beauty in seeing and feeling and being at one with one’s life.”  This was nice, and I agree that it is therapeutic.  For me, trimming and pulling weeds do it, and they are both free.  Now I don’t propose a replacement for regular therapy, but for a supplement, absolutely.

“When can I cut back my hydrangea? Is it o.k. to trim my crape myrtle now? “I often get asked about this around this time of year, April. I’m glad to answer these perennial questions. (pun intended) I thought you might like to hear some rules about trimming that might inspire a venture into your outdoor therapy:

1. If it blooms in the early spring, do not cut it now. Wait until just after it finishes the blooming cycle unless you are willing to sacrifice blooms this year. Examples would be Oakleaf and Hydrangea macrophylla (the old-fashioned blue or pink ones), lilac, azalea, and rhododendron. Even if you think stems are dead on your hydrangea, wait, I tell you. I have removed what I thought was dead only to realize I cut the bloom stock off by mistake.

Hydrangea paniculata varieties like Annabelle and Limelight bloom on new growth. Trim those in late winter, before new growth appears. February in Middle Tennessee works well. The paniculata grow stronger when trimmed back from 4” to 12” above the ground. Leave the sturdier stems up to 18-24” long on the Tardiva hydrangea.  You may also allow it to be taller and tree form shaped.
2. “Can I cut my crape myrtle now?” Yes, even though the leaves have begun appearing, is not a terrible thing, if you must. They won’t die however, we have a term for the look of wholesale trunk decapitation: Crape Murder. You see these all over the place, flatly cut off. Yuck. The plants are prolific foliage producers and burst back out at these points, but I don’t like it. I prefer to leave the branching alone. Simply thin out the smaller trunks, and remove spindly branches from the heads in favor of larger ones. In this way, that elegant line leading your eye from the ground to the tip end, uninterrupted. Artistry in nature.
3. When can I trim my boxwoods? Preferably, late winter but if it has gotten past and you must, trim them anytime before August 1. The reasoning is that new growth will have time to get tough before the freezes of winter come. This is also true about holly, and most hedge type plants. Freeze damage looks yellow, dry and dead, and nobody wants to see that.
4. “What do I need to do about my azaleas and rhododendron to make them bloom better?” Fertilize them three times, May 1, June 1 and July 1. I know, it’s not about trimming, but it is a frequent question. There are other plants that use those dates in a different way: Chrysanthemums. If you have these late summer beauties in the landscape and want them to bloom prolifically in the fall, cut 1/3 of the plant off each time at those same calendar intervals and you will have a bounty of blossoms. Don’t forget to fertilize. I like organic everything so bone meal, worm castings, or both if you are serious. All of my blooming shrubs and perennials do well with these.

This spring I’ve taken hundreds of photographs for possible paintings later. The bright colors of blooms and light green foliage on the trees is irresistible. The photo above shows a Flame Azalea, which is a rhododendron, and also a native. I am partial to orange, a fun, and social color.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fun Savvy, Self Savvy

Building a Following: Attraction Rather Than Promotion

Bates Nursery 1

David Bates is a nurseryman who grew up in a family business, Bates Nursery and Garden Center, begun in 1932 by a savvy woman, his grandmother, Bessie Bates.  He is also my husband of 30 years so this interview was convenient. I am awed by the way he made something where there was nothing and I thought you might benefit from how David embraced technology to expand his customer base with social media, and writing a weekly newsletter that is received by over 11,000 readers.

David had about 2,500 subscribers prior to 2009 and wrote only sporadically.  During a rough patch, after he had sold the business and then had to take it back, there were limited financial resources for conventional advertising.  He began looking for ways to expand his customer base.  The fact that customers tend to age, and with many of his customers in their early 60’s, it became apparent that there was a need to attract new and younger customers for the long haul.

Conventional at first, the newsletter featured only garden tips.  David needed wider parameters than exclusively writing gardening tips for the weekly newsletter. “Seasonal reminders are a good thing but I needed more content and began to inject more of myself into the newsletter, making it more personal.“  The newsletter has proven to be worth the effort, based on the response he gets from customers.  “I write them as though I am writing to one person.  When people receive it, my hope is they feel as though they are getting a personal note from me to them.  Consequently, I think people feel more comfortable with me and respond the way one friend does to another.  I am a person who has gone through a lot of bumps in life; the things I write about along those lines tend to be the posts I get the most response from.  They often don’t have anything to do with gardening.“

More on David’s writing process and social media in my next post.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit Greenways for Nashville to pursue art and product development. Renee likes being in nature, hiking, birding, and working in the garden. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, she appreciates that the legacy of the 3rd generation business was begun in 1932 at the height of the depression by a savvy woman, Bessie Bates.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Savvy