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I just got back from a family reunion and this song is in my head again….my husband and I saw Harry Chapin in the 70’s at the University of Illinois.We had just started dating  and it was my first time to hear Harry Chapin I was lucky since I got to see him live for the first time!  I was a fan from that day on…he passed away suddenly in 1981 and I found myself throughout the years returning to his songs when I face transitions in my life…..

My head is spinning and it feels like it will not stop turning till the snow flies, but I am grateful for every sore muscle in my body! Yes, Harry ” It seems like I’ve been here before, I can’t remember when ( but I really do for it happens every year-lol) But I got this funny feelin’ that I’ll be back once again…”

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I had no idea growing food year round would require this much work, but it does. I understand why people buy their food at the grocery store it requires simply driving to the store and surfing the aisles for what you want to eat. How easy can that be, well, too easy and it really does make us lazy. My yard is filled with food at every corner + I need to get some of this food out to people I promised….maybe Thursday or Friday…but I will..

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According to Harry “There are no straight lines that makeup my life and all my roads have bends..there’s no clear-cut beginnings and so far no dead-ends…” Ain’t that the truth..when you put your hands in the soil and start making things happen it really has no straight lines..things just sometimes evolve and it just rolls on with many bends along the way…it never dead-ends, it just does its own thing and sometimes you just follow, learn and grow as the seasons roll on by…

Peppers are filling in...
Peppers are filling in…

When I was at my family reunion, I was thinking that Harry has it right again in these verses ” All my life’s a circle, sunrise and sundown.The moon rolls through the nighttime, till the daybreak comes around..All my life’s a circle, but I can’t tell you why..The season’s spinnin’ round again, the years keep rollin by….yes, they do and it is evident in our faces, some of us are young, some of us our older, and some of us are new to the family + I can look at  my urban potager in this way. I started her 14 years ago in 2003 + it rolls on from year to year and some faces are older, younger and I am seeing new faces this year. Bees + butterflies + other critters I have never seen before…..and I can tell you why….If you give nature what she needs she will let you know with good food, good soil, and happy creatures that come to your place… it does spin round and round through the years, but the key is to  listen and make the changes you need, to make it happen again and again….

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I have had to go vertical in our space because there was no place else to go…but up! I can tell you that going up is one of the best ways to get a lot of food out of your space on a city lot. It is not easy and takes a lot of bends in the road, but don’t give up..keep trying until you get it right. I grow cucumbers vertically now and they love it and I never get any disease. I have seen one cucumber beetle this year ( companion planting helps but that it is another post), and I Never get wilted leaves or have my plants dry out. The vertical shades them and I have more cucumbers than I can possibly eat!

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This summer I had to remove some bushes to open some more vertical space. The bush to the left will be cut down to the ground later this fall, but it was not a good pollinator friendly bush for it was a double flower, so it had to go. I designed some bamboo trellis for my vertical growing between my neighbors and our houses. It is working with my squash. I have some lemon bush squash squeezed in between my pollinator garden. Compact growing is our motto!!!

I finally had to grow only butternut squashes and a lemon bush squash due to problems with squash vine borer in our urban potager. I have found not one squash vine borer in my yard this year. Victory for me! A lot of bends in the road for growing squash, but you never give up when learning to grow in small spaces. It is possible just don’t ever let a dead-end stop you from trying another approach, and vertical is the only way for me baby!!!

They bamboo is working great since it holds the butternuts in place. I do have to tie them up with some garden twine. The vines are very strong and not too much pulling down so far.
The bamboo is working great since it holds the butternuts in place. I do have to tie them up with some garden twine. The vines are very strong and not too much pulling down so far.

This year has been all about the vertical growing. I have had to cut out several bushes due to getting too large for the space and when I put them in the early days of Palm Rae Potager they were useful, but as the years have rolled on they have become too large and take up too much valuable space for food growing or room for other pollinator friendly bushes or plants.  It is all about the bees, butterflies and other pollinators!

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Lilliput zinnia mingling with heirloom petunias, cosmos and marigolds to provide natural pest control!

It was an adventure this summer since I purchased a lot of seed that did not come true to seed. This year it mattered to me, but it did not to some of the bees. They loved some of the mistakes that happened and I am glad it was good for them, but I already have learned what will be different next year..that is the beauty of seasons returning year after year.

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purple sweet potatoes are taking over and I can hardly wait until this fall to find out what is in my containers!

I tried some new crops this year for example purple sweet potatoes in containers. These were started from some slips I got this spring. I never thought they would take off but they are starting to run all over and I can’t wait to find out if my biodegradable pots are filled with purple sweet potatoes.

 

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Lord Baltimore hanging over and out with Purple Sweet Potatoes

Every year I feel blessed that I have been given the opportunity to take care of this small city lot and fill it with magic that teaches me all about the miracles of life….+ I am blessed to have seen a great artist before he passed….Thank you, Harry for writing a great song….

 “Circle”

by Harry Chapin

All my life’s a circle, sunrise and sundown
The moon rolls through the nighttime, till the daybreak comes around
All my life’s a circle but I can’t tell you why
The season’s spinnin’ round again the years keep rollin’ by

It seems like I’ve been here before, I can’t remember when
But I got this funny feelin’ that I’ll be back once again
There’s no straight lines make up my life and all my roads have bends
There’s no clear-cut beginnings and so far no dead-ends

I found you a thousand times I guess you’ve done the same
But then we lose each other it’s just like a children’s game
But as I see you here again, a thought runs through my mind
Our love is like a circle, let’s go ’round one more time

All my life’s a circle, sunrise and sundown
The moon rolls through the nighttime, till the daybreak comes around
All my life’s a circle but I can’t tell you why
The season’s spinnin’ round again, the years keep rollin’ by

Oh all my life’s a circle, sunrise and sundown
The moon rolls throught the nighttime till the daybreak comes around
All my life’s a circle but I can’t tell you why
The season’s spinnin’ round again, the years keep rollin’ by

Oh all my life’s a circle there’s sunrise and sundown
The moon rolls throught the nighttime

Written by Robbie

M.S. Education, , Organic Gardener, soil + nature lover, former modern dancer

40 comments

    1. thank you, but shhh…don’t tell anyone there are weeds between the flowers:-) but when they get tall the weeds disappear-magic!

  1. There we go with yet another great connection Robbie – Harry Chapin! This particular song is one of my great all-time favourites, especially the live version. I was devastated when he died all those years ago – I remember reading it in a ‘Time’ magazine obit, tucked away at the back. It was my ‘when the music died’ moment. I rarely find people who are fans of his so great music, “Harry Who?” is usually the response …. and there you are writing about him!! And the photos of your garden and the harvest and all the work you so obviously put into it – no wonder you are not on-line very much! Just phenomenal!!

      1. Thanks for the link Robbie – Even though it happened so long ago, I still feel sad for the loss. He certainly worked hard for his community too! I am so pleased you got the opportunity to attend one of his concerts – my favourite record was a double album from a love concert – I forget where. I now have the same recording on CD and shall have to hunt it out and play it again! 🙂

      2. YOu are welcome:-)Music is the universal language:-) Did you notice how many children he had-wow:-) I had no idea…off to work in my garden:-)

  2. Do you know Robbie, when I was younger this was one of my favourite songs but I never knew who sung it. Everytime it came on the radio I would just sit and listen, I loved the words, the melody, the tone in his voice. Thanks for sharing that because I loved hearing it again…on a laptop all these years later, it brought back alot of memories for me, wiped too many years away 🙂 Isn’t it funny how music does that…and scents. Music feeds the soul such nourishment!!
    Your garden is so gorgeous. I would love to grow more vertically and pester Roger every Spring but he does the planting and everything like that has to be his idea, I just plant seeds in the mind and wait for him to sprout them lol
    Yes, very definately easier to buy in the supermarket. I must admit to feeling really exhausted last Autumn and wondering why on earth we do this to ourselves!!! But we get to eat all summer and autumn the most delicious healthy food – we get to eat apricot crumbles, beautiful pickles and sauces, yummy soups, berry smoothies etc all winter long that cost hardly nothing. Doesn’t get any better… I just wish I was 20 years younger! You start Spring feeling you are and by autumn you feel you are 70 lol.
    I am enjoying your garden 🙂

    1. Everytime I listen to that song I get sentimental + I tear up,too. But in a good way:-) We should include this song with our New Years celebration at the end of the year….it really is fitting to the circle of life…. vertical is great but it can take off:-)I just got back from outside and my squash is running over the top of the fence into my neighbors yard, so this time of year I have to prune it so I don’t have it climbing on his roof!
      Oh boy, can I relate to what you said,feel all excited and eager in the spring but by this time of year, I start slowing down and feel like I might get lost out there in the garden beds and they may never find me-lol…I have to admit I enjoy my down time close to the fire in winter:-) I wish I was younger, too:-) for my eyes and mind have ideas that my body just can’t keep up with!!! I need to scale back a bit next year and realize it is just the two of us empty nesters now!

      1. We are just the same. I look around the garden late summer and ask myself “How many people does he really think he’s feeding!!??” I often tell him one day he will go down there and I will never see him again but he will be in the paper in years to come as the crazy guy they found who thought he was all alone on an island lol

        We had one season where our pumpkins went mad, they rambled all over the chook run, way up in trees, through the fence into the neighbours we found out later…they looked great!!

        Played the song twice, love it!

      2. I have been listening to it today,too_)I just was out there picking more beans, I will be dropping some off to people this week!I need to grow a bit less next year! Well, I would rather be the crazy person growing food than plain crazy:-) enjoy your time off for it will be your turn soon + I will be looking at all your bounty-lol

  3. Your garden is looking wonderful. Everything is bursting with health and vitality. I’ m crazy about your pink zinnias.
    Great song, the trouble about those circles is they spin round faster and faster. I’ d like it to slow down a bit.

    1. lol:-) too funny…my neighbor outside my window must of wondered what was so funny when I burst out with a roar-lol! Me too…slow down a lot + less snow! I just wish I was “bursting with health and vitality” this time of year, I am tired of all the work and glad I live in a climate that lets me rest up for the next round!

    2. Oh those are the lilliput the small ones and the others are just violet zinnias…those tiny ones persian + lillput have captured my heart this summer, tiny + sweet:-)

  4. I go by the creed that everything is cyclical, and a cycle, by it’s nature is a circle. Everything is striving for balance and we might not be able to see the point or the machinations or understand how fast, or slow those cycles are going but cycle on they do and we are all part of it and interconnected with every other cycle on earth. Even the stones have cycles, albeit ancient and primal and incredibly slow. Gardening brings us back to cycles again when we “modern” humans would have ourselves outside the realms of cycles and nature and all of those strange practices. You are thrown back into soil cycles and seed cycles and seasonal cycles and nutrient cycles and understanding that everything needs to work together, all of those cycles/circles rolling around and joining up in an amazing cosmic Spirograph someplace. Must be awfully pretty from a ways back :). I love Harry Chapin 🙂 Your garden is an inspiration to me Robbie. One day I would love to have a garden where everyone, even the possums and the wallabies, could share the harvest and there would simply be too much for the “pests” to demolish all by themselves. I am ever the optimist 😉

    1. No one can say it better than you:-) You are gifted with “words”…….could not of said it any better. Spirography..hmmm..that is a good analogy…that was one of my favorite toys as a young child. You would take the point of your pen and place it in a circle and just go round and round creating an amazing design…magical! Maybe my garden is like my spirograph….:-) a place I can go round and round and create a beautiful design! When I add colorful pens I have a medium, I will never get bored with for it is ever chaning…. and then you throw the element of chance in + “presto” …MAGICAL!!! You stay the ever optimist forever-never change!

      1. Can’t change how you were born and an optimist I am always going to be :). I thought of a spirograph when I saw your gorgeous colours and thought of circles to accompany them. What about mandala’s? Those lovely creations that Indians make? So many beautiful things that are circles and we can’t forget the golden circle/fibonacci number now…what beauty is to be found there 🙂

  5. Looking lovely! As I spin idea after idea around in my head for my latest “fresh start”on a garden, let me ask you: after all you’ve learned gardening in the same space for 14 years, if you were starting fresh in that space, what would you do differently? Or the same?

    1. Good Question! I would not bother with plants that did not feed me or pollinators…I wasted a lot of space with non natives that did not provide much for the native pollinators. I do have my “fun” plants, but I would limit my new space to about 25 percent fun plants. We all have to have those fun plants!You know the types that are “eye candy” and that is all about they do:-)-lol! I rushed ahead,grew too much + made a lot of mistakes along the way. I would sit back and study the space. Look at how the sun moves over the space, look for microclimates, build soil, research companion planting, just observe nature in your space, develop biodiversity + create a place that makes you happy..plants that make you smile.
      You have a small child which means you need to have space for your child to play and grow. You may have a plan that develops over time. I had kids when we moved in which meant I had to keep some lawn for them to play soccer, baseball and hang out with friends. I did not start tearing everything up until they were a bit older…so don’t forget the space for the little one:-) Have fun!

  6. Oh my! So beautiful. I like growing vertical – it’s so much easier to maintain and harvest. I’m going to need to devise some new supports soon. I just splurged and planted an Hibiscus – Kopper King. It made all my mornings spectacular as it glowed! Love your garden Robbie. Obviously you go rounds! Can’t wait to hear about the purple sweet potatoes!

    1. I can’t wait for them ,too! I sure hope they turn out it is my first time growing them in containers. It will be a surprise when I dig down this fall after the foliage dies back or I hope so!lol I had a copper king hibiscus once upon a time where my mixed veggies, herbs and flowers are:-( They are very beautiful, but I had to make a choice:-( I will head on over and admire it in your garden! I am going more vertical each year and I am growing some purple hull peas that a friend gave me and I can use my vertical supports for those, too:-) I learn something new every year!

    1. aww Sheri, but your place is amazing! Wouldn’t we make great neighbors:-) In fact, if all of us could connect our yards we would have an amazing playground for our veggies and bees:-) I am starting to see more pollinator friendly plants on my block,but I want to see more!

      1. That would be awesome! My neighbors have nice gardens luckily but I know some use chemicals. Nothing terrible, but still. We’re happy to have drought-tolerant trees and small green spaces. It’s getting harder though and they’re starting to ration water. At least we have butterflies 🙂

  7. Wow, great post, Robbie. I like your running it parallel to the Harry Chapin song. Your garden is looking very jungly, indeed. Do you put up a lot of your produce, freeze or can? You must have read Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle?’ It really clues folks into just how much work a garden can be. Thanks for keeping us in your circle! 🙂

    1. well, right now it does look a bit jungly, but I squeeze a lot in the small space:-) lol. Yes, I do put up a bit + also grow 3 season as much as I can, tall snow makes it difficult for a few months a year!

      1. Oh, you will love it. A whole year where they only eat what they grow or get locally at the farmers market. Reminds me of when we were kids and my mom spent her whole summer in the kitchen putting up food. Poor mom, but we ate well!

  8. Oh Robbie, I have just visited your blog for the first time ( thank you so much for visiting and commenting on mine ) and being there was just like coming home! I felt so comfortable and happy with Harry Chapin singing in the background, looking at your amazing garden. I can never believe how evocative words and photos can be and how much they reveal of our personalities. Good things, such good things come from our blogs and I am glad that my post about letting the leeks go to seed helped us to find each others blogs!
    Karen

    1. Love your blog!Oh I am so excited to explore some new ideas on what to cook! You truly are an artist with food:-) I am inspired!!! Yes, our friendships over the cyber fence make our life a bit richer:-)

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