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How Does One Write Non-Fiction?

Guest Post by Ann Miner – Author and Freelance Writer

High Desert Author

Ann Miner

 
Some people tell me they have lived an uneventful life. I often think that would be like a dream for me.
My life may sound like fiction, but, as the saying goes, you can’t make this stuff up. I write non-fiction because when I tell about my experiences, people say, “You should write a book.” What do they mean?
Let’s see, born in a farmhouse, neglected, adopted at one year. Lived the good life for eight years with two wonderful parents; lost Daddy when I was nine; new father, died when I was 14; mother died when I was 18.
In addition, I had my first and last names changed over the years. Let’s see, first and middle names changed twice, last name changed seven times. Good grief, no wonder I don’t know who I am!
Lived with manic depressive, abusive husband; lived with schizophrenic father-in-law, (loads of stories from both of these); divorced, ex-husband died a dramatic and tragic death (not suicide); went back to college at age 52, went bankrupt because I couldn’t get a job at age 56, 57, 58.
Then, after 22 years of single bliss, married again, lost that husband nearly ten years later, married again, lost that man a year later. Was a caregiver for my mother when I was 18, for my manic-depressive husband, and for my last two husbands. One had Parkinson’s disease for years. Never wanted to be a nurse, but God had plans he disclosed on a need-to-know basis.
Was despised and mistrusted by step-children of both husbands, and those stories alone would make a novel. But not a fun one.
Did I mention that I have moved more than twenty times?
So, what’s not to write about in the non-fiction genre? Just write what you know. Begin with a pencil on paper. Don’t stop the pencil until your brain stops. You can go back later and correct any spelling or grammar, or change phrases.  If you stop writing while you are thinking, you will forget the words that were flowing through your mind. Some of them never return, trust me.
An important thing that I have learned is to make an outline as your thoughts come. What stories do you want to share? I have remembered so many events after I have finished a chapter. Where do they fit in now? Why didn’t I write them down?
If you feel that your life has been uneventful, lacking drama, look at it again. How did you interact with family members? Brothers, sisters, cousins. Did you argue? Play pranks? How did those work out? What vacations did you take and what happened? Was there one that stood out because it was so wonderful or so fraught with disaster?
Everyone has a story to tell. In fact, you – yes, you – have many stories to tell. Just start making notes and then see how they fit together. You can make a complete story describing one vacation. I know I can. I have one about a trip to Acapulco when I was seven. Car trouble, high jacking by a truck full of Mexican marauders, that sort of thing. Not fiction.
My two children’s books are actually based on non-fiction. Polly Possum’s Wandering Path, and Buddy Finds a Home. Polly was actually a little possum that was wandering around my back yard, never looking up. Buddy was a cat that came to live with us. Everything in Buddy is true.
My adult inspirational books, I Lift My Eyes and Bugs in the Baptismal, are short vignettes of my life or someone else’s. The book I am working on now, A Cow is a Cow, (I’ve known that I was adopted since I’ve known that a cow is a cow), is autobiographical/memoir/documentary. It is filled with true stories about my life growing up adopted (twice), and the accounts others have shared with me about their experiences of being adopted, adopting a child, or surrendering one for adoption.
A caveat: even non-fiction may need some research. That can be frustrating or fun, interesting or intimidating. But you want your story to be as authentic as you remember it. Then you can go back and take a bit of license if it would be more complete. Or just add more true detail.
For instance: “My granddaddy taught me to play dominoes and also played the fiddle.”
Okay, but the reader may want to know more. How about:  “When we played dominoes I was fascinated by his big hands with long, slender fingers.  He could hold all his dominoes in his hand.” Actually, that is not embellished because it is true. But I could further describe what he usually wore at age 88, how his voice sounded, and so on. The audience wants to get acquainted with this man that you adored. Oh, did you say that you adored him and why? License could come into play here.
Then there was my grandmother who killed a chicken for fried chicken dinner. The chicken tasted good.
Or: When Grandmother planned to cook chicken for dinner, she went to the backyard in the afternoon and chased down a hen. She grasped it around the neck, and swung it in a short, tight circle until the body and head were separated. Then she let it hop around, headless, until it was still, after which she hung it on the clothesline to let the blood drain. After a good soaking in a bucket of boiling water, she held it by the legs, plucked the feathers, and singed the pinfeathers over open flames. Now it was time to take it into the house and finish the cleaning. A delicious fried chicken dinner followed.
The part I like best is this:
Her two daughters – Daddy’s only sisters out of the seven siblings – told the story, years later, of a time when their mother was ill and they wanted to fix her some chicken soup. So the young girls went out to the backyard and cornered a hen. One of the girls took the hen by the neck and started swinging it in wide circles, like a lasso, over her own head. Somehow the hen got loose and ran away. I can just picture that hen clucking loudly as she flew around in a circle at the end of the girl’s arm and then, literally, running for her life. Oh the trauma! Needless to say, there was no soup for dinner that night.
So, that’s how I do it.  Take notes, make an outline, write it down. Good things will happen!
Never at a loss for words.

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What is Memorial Day All About?

Fireworks with flagMemorial Day is being celebrated in the high desert by many at the San Bernardino County Fair. This weekend holiday is a time for barbecues and partying as people gear up early for the summer. But what is the real meaning of Memorial Day?

Memorial Day originated on May 30, 1868 as an occasion to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers. Twenty years after that the name was changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day. On May 11, 1950, Congress passed a resolution requesting that the President issue a proclamation calling on Americans to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer.

I wonder how many will unite in prayer tomorrow. A resolution  was passed by Congress on May 11, 1950 requesting a proclamation to be issued by the President for the people of the United States to unite in prayer during each Memorial Day.

Memorial Day, declared a federal holiday in 1971 by President Nixon, is now observed on the last Monday of May in honor of all who have died in wars.

Join with me in a moment of silence to honor men and women who died in wars so that you and I may be free and enjoy life.

Poetry – Write When Inspired and Enter Contests Inspite of Rejection

Poetry Inspiration

writing poetry, poetry contests, rejection

Poetry Inspiration
(photo from morguefile.com)

What inspires you to write poetry? Have you ever written a poem, entered it in a contest, and received a rejection?

Writing Poems and Entering Contests Means Facing Rejection

The poem “I Am Odd, I Am New” by an autistic boy expresses how most of us feel at times. We all have traits, quirks, or some aspect of ourselves that we wish we didn’t have. Become the best that you can be by using your knowledge and strengths. Learn the knack READ MORE »

Crayon in Hand — Create a Colorful Poem

National  Poetry Month and

Our Poetry Contest Continues

If you’ve ever sat to color with your siblings or your own children, you’ll notice that they usually grasp the brightest color on the table. They start with youthful enthusiasm.

Then, depending on their age, they pull back on the light glowing in their eyes and they

crayon color choices

Does Your Poetry Feel Like Pudgy Fingers Holding a Stubby Crayon?

become more thoughtful, more aware of their choice of color and where they use it. They also become more self-conscious of what they are doing in front of you.

Do they ask what color to use? Do they sort through them to find a better one? Do they find the challenge of getting the crayon to stay inside the lines? Do they give up because it’s too hard?

Simple Structure

These decisions are mostly made by the environmental influences of how others are perceiving them. Freedom of creativity is only free in your mind. We have too many other influences that can redirect us from our poetry goals. Choose your colors wisely and determine what message you are trying to convey. Stay focused and choose the form that works for you. Stay inside the lines but don’t be afraid to experiment, too.

Do you feel awkward and clumsy when trying to write a poem? Maybe it’s because you haven’t felt you could create something  worthy of calling it a poem. Poems come in all shapes and purposes. We place meaningful restrictions on ourselves — for no apparent reason. We demand better of ourselves, even when we don’t know why. It’s no surprise that so many writers don’t become poets. Crafting a poem is different than writing a story — even though they seem so similar.

This reminds me of my favorite Haiku poem in grade school. First, let me explain that Wayne (not his name) was a clown in class and always tried to get everyone to laugh out loud so they would get in trouble — not him. But when it came to the new stuff like Haiku and poetry in general, most boys whined but Wayne hunted for his best victim to taunt into laughter. Wayne was a brat.

Haiku, as an easy Oriental poem structure, has a simple form of three lines with five syllables in the first and third lines, and seven in the middle. It forces young minds to see a form and it offers shortness to adhere to their creativeness without beleaguering it.

Easy and Fast

So with our assignment in hand, we were told to come back the next day with a Haiku poem and the best five would be read in front of the class. Wayne sulked in the back of the room. He didn’t like the assignment or how the students were showing so much interest in a stupid poem. He couldn’t bait anyone to start giggling.

The next day our teacher announced that she had never seen such wonderful Haiku poems in all the classes she ever taught. She told us how much she enjoyed reading them and specifically she wanted to share her favorite right away.

This is a Haiku from Wayne:

Dum De Dum De Dum

I’m not the creative type.

Dum De Dum De Dum

Even though he thought he was being clever and silly, he accomplished what all of us wish to do — become memorable 50 years later. He fulfilled his assignment, and I love him for that, wherever he is.

Please consider entering our annual poetry contest, (Go to Contest Page above) whether you are a pro at contests, or if this is your first time, half the fun is sharing what you’ve created from within yourself.

And maybe you’ll be memorable 50 years  from now.

Rusty LaGrange

Flavor of Pumpkin in Spring

Craving an Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Flavor

Why should pumpkin breads, pastures, and pies be reserved for the Fall months? Sure that’s when they ripen on the vine and holidays soon follow. But we’re in the present age where you can have pumpkin any part of the year. I love pumpkin cookies in the Spring!

Recipe for Pumpkin Cookies

Light Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Puff Cookies

I looked around the Internet for the yummiest pumpkin recipes I could find. I’m a sucker for Pumpkin Mousse or those quick recipes where you don’t even have to bake the pie. Those are the modern recipes — I want the flavors that children were anticipating while sitting on the back porch deeply breathing in those rich pumpkin-scented wafts of goodness fresh out of the wood stove. I’ve been sharing a few recipes with chefs from KitchenHospitality.com and  PattiCake’sPantry.com — they both do more cooking in one year than I have in ten.

Melt-in-your-mouth Duo

However, I wanted an old-fashioned flavor that I hadn’t seen in awhile. I craved pumpkin and chocolate, so I dug back into my history files to find the melt-in-your-mouth duo. I came across this but I did ramp it up a bit:

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE PUFF COOKIES  (WITH SPLENDA)

2 c. Bread Flour                                                    1-1/4 c. Brown Sugar

1 tsp. Baking Soda                                                 1/4 c. Splenda

1-1/4 tsp. Baking Powder                                     1/4 c. Sugar

1/4 tsp. Ginger                                                       1-1/4 tsp. Vanilla

1 tsp. (or more) Cinnamon                                   2 c.Pumpkin Puree

1/4 c. Chia Seeds                                                    2 eggs

1/2 tsp. Salt                                                            1 bag Chocolate Chips

(Add 2 TBLS. of Old-fashioned Molasses for that rich tangy flavor)

INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat oven to 385 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. Beat all wet ingredients in a second bowl. Fold in until wet dough is incorporated. Add chocolate semi-sweet chips. Fold in slowly. Scoop by round tablespoon onto a lightly oiled or sprayed cookie sheet.

BAKE: 13 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cookies should stand tall and browned lightly. Cool on rack. Makes 3 dozen.

OPTIONS: add medium apple, chopped; remove chocolate for Craisens; remove Molasses and Chia seeds

Bonus Recipe:

Vegan, Paleo, and More:One Health Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse: 

Pumpkin Moouse Dessert

Smooth Pumpkin Mousse

 

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup milk of choice

2 tbs sugar-free instant vanilla dry pudding mix

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Try  a 1/4 cup of Chia Seeds

3-6 tsp. of Splenda or other sweetener of choice to taste

Dense light whip cream (like Dream Whip) your choice

Instructions: Simply mix everything except the puree. Add it last so the whipped topping doesn’t get too heavy. Refrigerate for at least an hour. You can also add some crumbled vanilla wafers or graham crackers to the bottom of a globe style dessert glass before you serve. Place a large spoonful of mousse in the glass, add a wafer and a sprig of mint to the side. Then enjoy!

Rusty

Pesky Snakes in Your High Desert Garden

Know Which Snake is Intruding

Most gardeners will have a basic skill in identifying bugs and unwanted critters in their gardens, but sometimes the intruder just scares you into leaving first  — then wondering what to do. It helps to know that the skin patterns on snakes are helpful in identifying them. If you stop and get a quick look before you run, you’ll have a better chance of knowing what your next steps are.

Good Snake Versus Bad Snake

A “good” garden snake like the “Gopher Snake” has a splotchy pattern of cream and brown but with a distinct narrow pattern of aligned squares running down its back.

snake in the garden by PestKill.org

Gopher Sanke pattern

Pattern is more square for a gopher snake

 

 

 

 

 

 

A “bad” snake like the Diamondback and Mojave Green Rattlesnake have patterns that look more exotic, wider, and in a diamond-styled pattern. Some have a green or pink tinge to them.

Diamond pattern for Rattlers

The distinct diamond pattern is most common for Rattlers

Also, if you happen to be close enough to see a snake’s head, the good snakes appear more pointed, narrow, and shiny. In general their bodies are slimmer than rattlers. here’s a photo of comparing their two heads.

two heads

Rattler on left, Gopher snake on right

The bad snake’s head appears much wider, eyes are narrower, and they have “fat cheeks” — their glands and jaws fill their heads — making them look more aggressive.

Knowing these identifiers will help you be more aware of good snakes that your garden can benefit from to keep away other pesky visitors. However, if you see a rattler, back away carefully and call for help. Your local fire department can be called in most cases or phone a friend with a stronger constitution than yours.

Exterminators at “PestKill.org” recommend these methods to reduce snake intrusions:

 Find the nest. To chase any type of reptile away and to get rid of all garden snakes once and for all, you should find their nest and destroy it. Start inspecting the area around to look for shelters. Normally, they give their preference to well-hidden nooks and secluded corners, piles of wood, and compost holes. Even if there are no creatures inside, level the ground.

(Note: leveling your whole property will not stop snakes from crossing it.)

No garbage. Stop accumulating garbage outside. Do you know that such places are just perfect hiding and feeding areas for many types of these nasty reptiles?

No debris. Keep your backyard clean and remove debris, branches of trees and dried leaves regularly. Make some landscape changes in the area to modify the environment.

Keep grass low. If you have the luxury of growing a lawn, it is not a secret that snakes adore tall grass as this is a hiding place of mice, rats, squirrels, crickets and grasshoppers – their main food. To get rid of rattlesnakes, mow the lawn weekly!

Eliminating compost heaps. Gardeners need composts but they should be removed at some safe distance from your home. They are perfect hiding and leaving places in your backyard, attracting reptiles and their food sources right to you.

Erecting snake proof fencing is another alternative of how to get rid of snakes in backyard fast. A fence only 2-3 feet high made of fine wire mesh helps to prevent them from entering your yard and eventually your house. Be aware that snakes do climb — this is only a deterrent.

Use mothballs. Practically all types of snakes hate the smell of mothballs. So why not use this option in your garden right away? Don’t scatter the balls here and there. Just bury them into the soil in different parts of the yard instead. Though they may be toxic to their nature — when used carefully — they help to keep snakes at a bay.

No cool places. Sacks, bricks, and wood attract them as much as tall grass. Keep them far from your property and dealing with snakes won’t be your problem anymore. Also consider where you have water buckets and water feeders for your outdoor pets. Water containers stay cooler and will attract mice and snakes.
Read more: http://pestkill.org/other/snakes/

Rusty

Thanx goes to PestKill for posting their recommendations online

Iconic Wagon Wheels of the Old West

Collecting the West — Wagon Wheels Still Tie Us to the Spirit of the West

By Rusty LaGrange, president of Lucerne Valley Museum Assoc.

A wagon wheel is notably an icon of the Old West. You can still find them in antique shops and salvage yards across America. It ties us to the heritage of our early years as the United States opened its doors to go westward. Wagon wheels took us on our journey. The best ones are strong with thick spokes and an iron tire. Even these are getting harder to find today.

Wagon wheels

Hansen Wagon Wheels

 

 

 

 

Nearly every museum with a theme of natural history is bound to have several of these on display — on a vehicle or leaning up against a fence. Out in Lucerne Valley many ranches have several Old West wagons in their yards as honorable piece of history worthy of a glance as friends drive in through the gate.

Museums and Ranches Preserve the Past

Museum logo

Lucerne Valley Museum logo

Our Lucerne Valley Museum logo utilizes two icons – the wagon wheel signifying mine ore hauling and the plow to signify the agricultural roots of our valley – and defines our basic heritage. Without wagons to haul ore, alfalfa, and logs down from Big Bear, most industrial ranches would have had to rely on railroad for commerce.

 

Wagon wheels were designed for every conceivable rolling convenience. Each had specific need and sizes. Hundreds of companies built wagon wheels for hauling heavy loads and spindly ones for fast moving surreys.

The stagecoach set the standard for many travelers because they were built for long distances, larger cargo, and places for the public to sit. It wasn’t the easiest ride but for its time, it was good enough. Some bench seats were padded, some not. Some stages had open sides to allow more air flow during hot rides through even hotter territories. Often times, riders would opt to ride on top to get a breeze and take advantage of the vistas.

Catching a Breeze

The open air for passengers

Riding atop of a stagecoach provided a longer swinging action to the rough ride. Like getting in the back of a bus, the farther you sat from the axles the more energy was disbursed. The ride was cushioned by the leather straps or sling system that held the body to the framework.

Looking at the Details

Next time you look at a stagecoach up close, at a museum or special event, notice the difference in size of the front wheels at 39” tall and 43” for the rear. The differences allowed the tracking of the wheels to run smoother around corners.

Old work wagon

Very old utility wagon in Daggett CA

Farm wagons and drays were the working equipment for a busy ranch. They had to be durable. Most were painted a typical dark blue-green, similar to the hunter green we are familiar with today. The paint on the box, using an oil-base consisting of pigments ground in linseed oil, provided protection and style. Most all farm wagons were painted with bright-colored gears, red, orange, or yellow. The bright colors of the gear and wheels hid dirt better than a dark color, and the style of the day was for work vehicles to be brightly colored. The brilliantly striped gears and bodies of the farm wagon seemed to be on the verge of gaudy or a competition among the many makers to produce the most marketable look. This fact helps collectors today identify the companies that made them. Very few makers marked their names on axles and boxes.

Stagecoaches in films

Our love with the Old West and wagon wheels began long ago

Hollywood film industry continues to be as authentic as possible with historic Westerns, even down to the type and construction of stagecoaches as in the Lonesome Dove series and others like the movie Hidalgo, and the Wells, Fargo Company who regularly takes replicas out to the public for historical events nationally.

Whether the wheels are found on wagons, stagecoaches, buckboard, spring buggy, or Black Moriah funeral coach, they all hold a long and deserving place in our Old West history.

Rusty

Thanx goes to Hansen Wheel and Wagon for keeping these horse-drawn transports still on the ground

Desert Camp Oasis in Pahrump Nevada

Just 120 miles to go

Some folks know about the Lakeside RV Resort south of Pahrump. For the hundreds of volunteers who help during the annual Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay a foot race, many find the “oasis” just what they need after the race has moved on through. Even though I’ve mentioned this event before, it’s not one that is open to the public due to the runners, support teams, and stage personnel are all police and public service employees.

Cool shoreline

An oasis in the desert — a man-made lake to keep you cool

It is an accumulation of over 3000 dedicated folks helping to make the race safe and fun. And you must be invited and pay a hefty registration fee to run.

I never could understand how running through any terrain during a 103 temperature desert course for 6 miles would be fun. But they have for 32 years.

Team Work Gets the Job Done

You see, even though I’ve been volunteering for this race for 10+years and my husband for 15+, I don’t run. We just use our amateur radio skills to assist with the communications needed for a race covering 120 miles and elevations from 250 to 5000 feet. I’m on a team that monitors the runners. It’s exciting, rewarding and worth coming back because without enough help, the race would be cancelled.

fountain

Cool water fountain attracts children and birds

Suffering is not my plan. After the race, we travel over  to Lakeside RV Park and Casino to kick back and relax. The complex is dog-friendly with shady grounds, a lake in the middle with simple amenities: pool, beach, laundry, restaurant, and gas with convenience store. It’s a quiet refreshing place to be. Even with grackles and migratory bird visitors, the noise can be unnerving. By evening every bird visitor has settled down. The grassy knolls that surround the park help to deaden any loud noises from outside the complex.

grassy knolls

Grassy Knolls offer campers a quiet place

Take a look at their photos and list of amenities, and I bet if you’re in the area northwest of Las Vegas, you’ll be curious to see what the buzz is about.

You’ll enjoy it.

Rusty

Heir Today — Gone Tomorrow: Tracing Your Family

Genealogy is a growing trend

Years ago trying to trace relatives was like digging for King Tut. You knew he was there but the cost to trace him was way beyond your means. Lower costs and the Internet have changed all that — you can afford it now. Look for free networks and resources.

Geneaology

Some of the research is free compared to just a few years ago

You can even submit your DNA tests for under $100 to find out if you’re on the right track. It used to cost several hundred dollars without a guarantee that it would help you in your quest to find a base for your heritage hunt.

With the advent of the video blogs and online YouTube Channels, you can find free help and advice from professionals right from the comfort of your home.

Ready to figure out your Family Tree without hefty membership fees? Then you can visit two ladies that are full-time researchers:

Gena and Jean Genealogy Journeys activities

Have you been listening to the podcasts? They are posting these every 2nd and 4th Sundays (they are pre-recorded), 4pm (Pacific time). You can listen to them from their blog: http://genaandjean.blogspot.com and each podcast is accompanied by a blog that includes additional information on resources for research. Some of the topics coming up deal with Irish Immigration (on 27 March); Frozen Foods and Refrigeration, a tribute to Mothers (on Mother’s Day) from their listeners; Ocean Travel (from the earliest days up to 1912); Advertising and how it has evolved and affected our ancestors . . . well, there’s a lot of stuff coming up. But you can also listen to the recent ones from that blogspot’s archive, too. The primary topic is “Social History” and how it is important to family history research.

Join a Club

Some Internet searches allow you to find data for free

Some Internet searches allow you to find data for free

If you do join a Genealogy website or visit a local genealogy club, make sure that your online trail of sources is redirected to your own home folder and not to the “Clubs” folder. Collecting the data is half the fun, but finding everyone’s relatives in your folder is horrible. Remember to direct all your research to your private email. Ask for help if you need it.

You can also check out: http://www.scgsgenealogy.com and see if they have some free downloads for beginners. We all have to start somewhere.

How else will you be able to know if Uncle Tim was really in the military or ran off with your Mom’s sister on your Dad’s side? Hhmmm?

Rusty

Not Every Gardener Has a Green Thumb

Growing a Garden in High Desert Soil is Tough

Years ago, I made a plan for my first garden bed. I fenced out rabbits from my plot of land. I dug up the heavier rocks and raked and turned until thought I had a decent bed to start. I then made a deal with the groundskeepers at the local park that I could collect their lawn and leaf trimmings. I hauled home a small trailer full of rich composting material.

It pays to talk to other gardeners in your community. They may have the background you don’t. Why work so hard?

Garlic Bulb

A fresh garlic I never raised

Use Gardening Magazines but Don’t be Beguiled

I raked and tilled, mulched and watered. I knew that in this virgin soil, nothing would grow for the first year. So I tended the plot and added some amendments that I had read about. Pored over the organic magazines all Summer. True to their word, they recommended that planting in the Fall would be better for a sound crop; I only planted two rows of potatoes starters. The bitter winds of Winter made gardening brutal. I was on a water tank system, still am, so each time I watered, I paid more attention to how much absorbed into the ground.

Dirt Farmer

Without water and good soil your garden is nothing

Garden magazines are helpful but they can draw you into false security, thinking that everything is just fine. They don’t know your climate or soil health. I watered and tested my young spud plants until early Spring.

Seduced by January Garden Dreams

You know all of those gardening magazines arrive in your mail boxes in January just to whet your keen edge for a voluptuous garden … the dream garden. I devoured each page. i was seduced by promises and beautiful pictures.

By early February, after the frost, I planted several rows of green onions, yellow onions, garlic and some pepper plants. I even planted marigold plants between rows to discourage bugs and worms. Master Gardeners suggested that. I was on my way to having a “green thumb”, or so I thought. But the High Desert had different ideas.

It seems that while I was developing the soil and strengthening the PH balance, diligently following the master gardeners’ insider hints, the desert was killing off my dreams.

The first early shoots of my potato plants withered. The onion rows sprouted a feet high but when I pulled a few, no onions! Even my “anyone can grow” marigolds refused to send out roots. The first wind that came along blew them right out of the ground! And the horn worms that can attack tomato plants like an army on the move had made a night raid and wiped out my two feeble pepper seedlings.

Find Out What Your Garden’s Enemies Are

Horm Worms can devour a whole plant

Tomato Horn Worms look healthier than my pepper plants

You’ll need to study who your enemies are: underground, under leaf, in the stems or on the stems. Consult your local gardening department in a building and housewares store. They always have a gardener on hand. Take their advice.

It seems that the lack of humidity in the ground, even with my diligent watering, was not enough to grow a garden. The rodents conspired to burrow under my rows and finish off my harvest long before it showed above ground. And, for all of my watering, it seems that it all percolated down and away from my baby garden roots. I didn’t have the soil primed for holding the moisture.

By the time I expected to harvest early onions, potatoes, and garlic… I found two … yes, two onions. No Garlic. My potato starters were still small, laughing at me, I’m sure.

So I am the Brown Thumb gardener. I still buy my produce from the store. I still have my garden outside my window. Now I grow rustic antique cultivators, harrow row rakes, steel wheels, and antique hand plows … the basic elements of a gardener’s tool collection when the tools brought great harvests to more fortunate gardeners.

Rusty, no dirt under my fingernails …

 

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