The Professor & Her Garden

Good soil. Good students. And maybe some decent English peas.


Ah, Well, It was Lovely While it Lasted. It’s Near the End of My Garden–and This Little Blog.

It’s December.  Who grows things in December?  I’m trying–and because I am in coastal South Carolina, I figured I had a pretty good shot of making it through the winter.

But, first the polar vortex arrived.  Bye, bye, lima beans.  Then the Omega Effect hit.  C’mon snap peas, hold on!  Then the clouds and the rain, rain, rain.

Now, we’re back to a more normal winter here.  Chilly at night, but sunny during the day.  Unfortunately, my little garden was hard enough hit in November to struggle a bit.  It’s hanging in there, but it’s not what I would call flourishing.

Still, I was able to pick a decent crop the other day.

Lettuce, tomatoes, and sugar snap peas.

Lettuce, tomatoes, and sugar snap peas.

But, now the garden is moving into its quiet phase.  I might get a bit more lettuce and a few more tomatoes.  Other than that, it’s now a waiting game for the carrots and parsnips.

The good news is that I’ve learned a lot about gardens from my little fall sabbatical garden.  And I’m already planning what to grow in the spring.  The other good news is that I’ve learned a lot about blogging.  I started The Professor & Her Garden while taking the Blogging 101 class.  I didn’t want to mess up my real blog, My Year Away.  But, I came to enjoy this little blog and couldn’t quite bring myself to shut it down.  But, just like my garden, it’s moving into its quiet phase.  I don’t know if I’ll revive it come spring with my new garden.

Although I am a professor, when it comes to my plants,  I have been the student.  And I’m grateful.  Thank you, all, for following this blog.  I hate to say good-bye though, so it would be wonderful if you chose to follow me at My Year Away.  I’ve got all sorts of things growing over there.  Thanks to Blogging 101 and all the great bloggers I met during that month!



I Was a Little Traumatized When I Realized I Had to Actually Harvest the Garden!

As some of you know, I am becoming quite obsessed with my little garden. I check it every day. See if it needs watering. Check for weeds. Talk to it. Encourage it to grow. But today I had to do something that I’m not sure really occurred to me up until now. I had to harvest it. Okay, it was only four lettuce leaves, but they looked so beautiful in the garden, all happy in the sunshine.
I don’t know much about leaf lettuce, but I do know that it’s a fine line between tender and bitter. They looked “done” to me. I even went to the “how do I pick leaf lettuce” website to make sure I approached it correctly. (Always the professor; always doing research.)
It was time.
So, of course I first took a picture of the lettuce “pre-harvest” so I could remember. Then I picked them and pell-melled it back to the house to wash them, take pictures–and eat!
The lettuce was delicious. Peppery. Fresh. Green.
So I might be a little bit attached to my garden. But at the first bite, I rearranged my thinking and understood that some things are meant to be eaten. Now, I’m just waiting for that green tomato to turn red!

I picked my first lettuce on October 7!

I picked my first lettuce on October 7!

Blogging 101 Assignment of the Day: Mess Up a Good Thing (aka “try a new post format”)

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So today our ever-present and gifted Blogging 101 Grand Poobah Michelle wants us to try something different with our posts.  The directions of “post format” seem easy enough.  (Famous last words!)

Okay, for “different” today, I decided to pick some random quotes about gardening.  And because my blog is The Professor & Her Garden, I decided I needed to find quotes that used gardening to speak to learning or were written by smart people I admire.  So, without further adieu, here are my gardening quotes as part of my Blogging 101 Assignment:

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”  –Cicero

“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.”  –A. A. Milne

 “A garden is a grand teacher.  It teaches patience and careful watchfulness, it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.”  –Gertrude Jekyll
“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” — Thomas Jefferson
“Gardening is learning, learning, learning.  That’s the fun of them.  You’re always learning.”  –Helen Mirren
And this is why I’m a professor.  And why I’m trying gardening during my sabbatical.

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At Least I Can Mother My Garden.

My son and his wife (and my brand-new grandson, Baby Jack) live in the middle of the woods (i.e. nowhere) in Wisconsin where he works at a residential school for troubled high school boys.  He called me today, which is rare.  After several minutes of “How’s my grandson?  Send pictures!!” Graham got around to the real reason he was calling.

“I got a concussion at work,” he said nonchalantly, but I have enough of a Mother Radar to know that he really meant “I got hit in the head and I’m a bit scared about it.”  Unfortunately, I had just finished reading the recent article in Time (Sept. 29, 2014) about the high school football player who died after getting concussed at a game.  So, let’s just say that the Mother Radar was on full blast.

What could I do?  I live 1,500 miles away.  I ran through the list.  Did you fill out Workers Comp paperwork?  Are you doing what the doctor says?  Are you drinking enough water? Check.  Check.  And check. I told him that I loved him, to hang in there (and to maybe look for another job).  Then I hung up.

I don’t have a lot of natural mother instincts.  I’ve always had a job.  I was the high school mother who would donate money rather than spend time sorting band uniforms.  I didn’t let Graham bring his laundry home from college.   But my mother heart was sure beating quickly today.

Well, one thing I can do.  I can go to my little garden and talk to the baby peas and urge them to grow.  That won’t help my son heal.  But it might help me.  And I’d like to think it will help my peas.sept 26

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What Do Woodrow Wilson and Rowing Have in Common with Gardens?

As part of my sabbatical, I am reading biographies of presidents as well as other books that intrigue me.  I just finished A. Scott Berg’s biography on Wilson.  And, I’m rounding the corner on The Boys in the Boat:  Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics.  I’ve already written about the Wilson book here.  And the post about The Boys is here.

Gardens make an appearance in both books.  In Wilson, victory gardens pop up all over the country when the US finally joins the allies in WWI.  In Boys, gardens pop up as a way for one of the rowers to earn money as well as to provide a respite from the day-to-day upheaval of living through the Depression.  In both cases, people create lush gardens without having much garden knowledge.  The gardens in both books are about food.  But they are also about creating calm out of havoc, creating a retreat from the dusty world of work, and as a place to work on tasks that yield results.

To me, it makes perfect sense, then, that I have created my little sabbatical garden for My Year Away.  It’s just a tiny piece of land:  4 feet by 10 feet.  But, I’ve planted a variety of veggies that I love in orderly rows.  The little seeds are popping out at different rates.  I can’t always tell what’s a weed and what’s a pea.  I’m starting to see a pattern.  The garden is rewarding me.  I’ve got weeks (and maybe months) to go before cultivation, but I’m already seeing the fruits of my labor.

Every morning I’m at the beach, I pull on my rain boots, hop in the golf cart and race down to the community garden where I can check on my little plot.  If I know something is a weed, out it goes.  I stare at the beautiful rows.  I talk to the seedlings.  If it hasn’t rained, I water.  Then I hop back onto the golf cart and ride home.

And I start another day of my sabbatical.  Reading, writing, crunching data.  It’s not just my garden that’s growing.  I’m growing too.

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Who Am I and Why Am I Here?

I’m participating in the 30-day Blogging 101 community. The first assignment is today: who am I?

I believe the point of this assignment is to allow all participants to introduce themselves to each other–and at the same time, to start blogging. The thing is, I already have a blot. It’s called My Year Away and I’m working pretty hard at it. So I don’t want to mess it up with these daily “let’s try this out” assignment. So, the logical thing is simply to start another blog.

Why Academic Gardening?

My “real” blog, My Year Away, is about my year-long sabbatical from academia. I’m writing about the academic administrative life I gave up, my frustrations with university politics, challenges in journalism education, etc. And, I’m also writing about the things I’m discovering during my year away.

Which brings me to gardening. During my sabbatical, I’m trying to do all sorts of new things, either because I’m actually interested in learning how to do them–or because I’m simply curious and thought it would do me some good.

Ringing handbells is an example of “it might do me some good.” Gardening is an example of, “hey, I’m really interested in learning how to do this.”

So why “Academic” Gardening? Because I’m an academic at heart, I want to see if I can apply these principles to gardening. We’ll see if I’m successful. The garden is in, by the way. Now I’m anxiously waiting to see some sort of sign that I have something there. Not unlike the feeling I have when collecting data for a study and anxiously waiting to see if there is a sign of germination. A statistically significant one would be nice.