Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

It’s a jungle out there


I know you all like to see pictures of my garden, and it’s about that time. Thing is, ever since I got back from my reunion retreat, I’ve been less than enthusiastic about weeding. As in, not-weeding-unless-I-can’t-find-the-vegetables enthusiastic.

Part of it is the weather–it’s been hot and humid here. Part of it is the time of year, I think. All the weeds are seeding now. When I got back from Wisconsin, I checked out the garden.


On the bright side, most of the weeds are purslane, which is more ground-hugging, so it isn’t shading any of the veggies. In fact, it might even be acting like a sort of mulch.


A carpet of purslane

So, really, it isn’t all that bad if you look at it that way. It just looks messy.

Another deterrent to getting out into the garden? The ragweed is blooming now. And if you remember, we have giant ragweed. Yes, that’s really what it’s called, and with good reason–the plant can be up to 15′ high (I think that’s around 5 meters for those on the metric system).

And though common ragweed is generally no more than a foot high, it has nothing on the large “flowers” the giant stuff has.

You see all that yellow stuff? That’s ALL pollen. And that’s the stuff that people are allergic to. Including me. We try to cut down as much ragweed as we can before it flowers, but of course we never get it all. And in some areas, we just can’t get to it.

Lucky for me, ever since I had surgery to correct my deviated septum, allergy season hasn’t been as bad as it used to be. I can still breathe. And yes, I know I’m allergic to it, because the one time I got tested, they wanted to stop the test because my back broke out from the moment they applied the ragweed allergen. (If you’ve never been tested for allergies, back almost 20 yrs ago when I was tested, they applied allergens to your back using tiny needles to barely prick the skin. I have no idea what they do now.)

BTW, many people blame these allergies on goldenrod, which blooms at the exact same time, and happens to have tiny yellow flowers the same color as ragweed pollen. Goldenrod also tends to grow next to ragweed, so it gets a bad rap.

Anyway, they aren’t pretty, but here are pics I took last night. The cilantro/coriander is blooming now, the dill is blooming, and the cucumbers are spreading everywhere!


Row of green beans and cilantro, with a carpet of purslane back by the tomatoes.


Zucchini and cucumbers. Notice the “wall” of giant ragweed way in the background over by the chicken pen.

I’ve been picking zucchini, green beans, and of course, cucumbers. I just picked the first tomato. Okay, I should have waited another day or two, but hey, it’s the first ripe tomato!

The kale has been heartily attacked by cabbage worms, and though I’ve been meaning to spray, I haven’t done so. I try to avoid using chemicals, and though I have an organic pesticide to use, I haven’t mixed it up yet.

The peppers are doing well. This year I planted pepperoncini peppers, which are the ones they use for pickled peppers, like what you get in the salad at Olive Garden. We’ve been eating pickled peppers lately, so my husband suggested I plant some so we can pickle our own.

And there you have it. My writing–now that I’m finally getting going with Book 2–is another reason I’m reluctant to spend a lot of time in the garden. And it’s hot. And frankly, I’m tired. I might not plant a garden next year, but then again, tomatoes. And peppers. And we don’t have a good farmer’s market around. Or maybe we’ll get a membership in the CSA for the school garden. We’ll see.

Have a wonderful and writing-filled weekend!


Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, seven chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

27 thoughts on “It’s a jungle out there

  1. The heat is enough to sap anyone’s energy, Julie. And, weeds or not, being in the garden in this weather takes a toll. I know exactly what you mean about allergies, too. When allergies flare up, even if it’s not serious, it saps your strength. And when they really flare up, you can barely move or breathe, let alone get out in the garden. You’ve got some great things growing there, though (well, I mean, except for the ragweed….). I’ll bet you’ll have some delicious fresh food when it’s all ready.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! Yes, the ragweed is not our prime crop, but I have seen a website that sells ragweed seeds! We also have a bunch of stinging nettle, and people pay for nettle leaves for tea. I have to shake my head, then wonder if we could make some money selling our invasive plants πŸ™‚

      Just picked (and ate!) the first ripe tomato from the garden. I think that’s one of the main reasons for gardening–fresh tomatoes!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You have a really big garden, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s a gorgeous garden! We only planted tomatoes this year cause I would miss them dearly. Store bought ones are not the same

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think your garden looks fabulous and as long as your are getting some produce it is worth doing. Do chickens eat ragweed seed?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My sister’s moaning about weeding too but in her case, Indiana has been deluged with rain so she’s waiting a bit for the ground to be less muddly. She’s also getting ready for tomato picking.

    You guys with gardens–I can’t believe all the work!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You could also grow a “smaller” garden… just a thought. My garden in half the size of yours, Julie, (weedy too, of course) but it grows enough food for us and our neighbors. I love how generous the Earth is! Sorry to hear about the heat and allergies. Fall and cool weather is on its way! Happy Gardening and Writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Julie, it’s a lovely, big garden! And a lot of work! Might be best to cut it down next year to a few veggies you really like. Your writing comes first. Have a great weekend! πŸ“š Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your garden looks great, Julie. I don’t have one, though I did plant a 4X4 raised bed one year. It didn’t do well, so I decided it was better and cheaper for me to support local organic farmers in the area. They are plentiful and do a great job keeping me supplied with local, fresh veggies and fruits. I am bothered by allergies big time. Goldenrod is one of the worst for me. I don’t think we have the tall ragweed here in Maine but now I have to look for it because maybe we do and I didn’t know what it was. Humid weather makes it hard to do any physical exertion. I have kept up my walks but it’s been tough. The humidity broke here last night and it is in the 60’s this morning with clear skies and promises of temps in the 70’s today. Tonight will go down to the 50’s for comfortable sleeping. Perfect weather! Happy writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been thinking about getting into the local co-op CSA. The school has a garden, and my son used to work there, so I’m familiar with what they have. And so glad to hear your humidity has broken. We’re still waiting for that in our area. The weather people say it should happen tonight. Crossing my fingers this is one of the times they are actually right πŸ™‚

      Have a great week, Molly!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I can’t imagine the amount of work you have to put into your garden. It’s more like a mini vegetable farm.

    We got our first grape tomatoes and they’re so much better than anything you can pick up at a store. Fortunately, we do have a good farmer’s market nearby for all of the other stuff (I LOVE veggies), but if we didn’t, I still probably wouldn’t have a big garden. I’d never be able to keep up with it. I have no idea how you manage, but am always so impressed with the photos you share!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mae! I wish we had a good farmer’s market close because I might forego the garden next year. You are absolutely right about garden veggies tasting so much better. We just ate the first ripe tomato from the garden last night. Soo good! And I wonder how you can write as much as you do as fast as you do just like you wonder about me and my garden πŸ˜€

      Hope you had a great vacation! I bet Raven was really glad to see you πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Your garden is impressive to me. I start out gung ho but end up with my plants in pots doing the best. That’s how I remember getting my allergy tests done, too. My issues was more with trees where I live is all trees. I love farmers markets we have several here…just have to go there:) Have a great week and harvest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Denise! I always start out gung ho in the spring after a long winter–except for this year, but I think part of that was having deadlines to meet. By this time of the season, I’m usually out of steam from trying to keep up with the weeding. Hence, all the weeds in the garden πŸ™‚

      Have a great writing week!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Love your garden pics. ALMOST as much as kitty pics. So, purslane. We have that too. Now I know what it’s called. We yank it and give it to the chickens. They seem to like it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sooo, is that a hint?? πŸ˜‰ I never thought about giving it to the chickens. We’ve got chickweed, too, and the chickens really like that. You can eat purslane; it tastes kinda like asparagus, but I haven’t cooked up any this season. Plenty of green beans and zucchini to eat instead.

      Have a great week, Betsy!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. My allergies are terrible, too, (I had back tests and arm tests, and I welted like crazy with both) and weeds are ridiculous here. We’ve stopped planting “gardens” because of allergies, but I have container plants this year. Tomatoes, two types of banana peppers (hot and sweet). Lots of herbs. The stupid zucchini died, but I hear zucchini is doing poorly for a lot of people this year. Your garden is lovely, weeds and all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Staci! Hmm. I think out of all the years I’ve had a garden, my zucchini did well except for one or maybe two years. I actually had to pull one of my three plants this year because it was sick–brown/yellow leaves and few flowers. We’re surrounded by a cornfield, so I often wonder if we get drift from the herbicides. But the cucumbers are prolific, so who knows? At least you have fresh tomatoes and peppers–the essentials, in my book! πŸ˜€

      Have a great week!


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