RSS

Sprouting Mr Coleman’s Sticks

Roswell, Georgia was once a textile town. A farming town. A town where cattle grazed, hens scratched, and cotton was grown, picked, ginned and sewn into every imaginable article of clothing.

It was a small town.

A town where you went to church with your neighbor. You helped your neighbor when his ox got in the ditch; and, you honored your parents by holding onto their property with everything you had.

Not too long ago folk put down roots, built a home with their bare hands, and stayed put until Jesus called them home.

Which brings me to Mr. Coleman.

Chicken Man and Friends: Mr. Coleman and Mr. Albertson

Chicken Man and Friends: Mr. Coleman and Mr. Albertson. Mr. Coleman carried his writing with him; always.

My Coleman has been with Jesus for several years. He passed suddenly as do many of my friends, or so it seems. My point of talking about him today is to celebrate his gift of growing, and writing. That boy (who was twice my current age); could make a stick sprout leaves; and, he was quite the poet.

Really, he was.

We have a tendency to judge older folk, toss them aside like discarded coffee cans. But Mr. Coleman  had stacks and stacks, boxes and boxes of “writing’.” And I mean profound writing. God-given writing, that I would love to have just a single sheet.Truly, if I owned one sheet, I would frame it and hang it on the wall.

The perimeter of his home was lined with stick-laden coffee cans. He’d pluck a hydrangea, poke it in a coffee can full of dirt, them sit the can on the banister and repeat the process until half the house looked like a recycling center.

Some folk were bothered by his junk.

I was only troubled by the snakes. Lawd a mercy.

If you’ve read my first book, In the Garden with Billy, you know a bit about Mr. Coleman, but you don’t know that I was in possession of something priceless, a stick- in – a can. A fig tree to be exact. No one could sprout a tree like Mr. Coleman. I’m telling ya it was nothing short of miraculous, which is why I had to give the tree away.

This Facebook  friend who – at the time – didn’t really know me from Adam’s housecat, toted her two littles to my book launch for Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She waited in line under a sweltering sun and then after purchasing a copy of my book, she asked permission to sniff Mr. Billy’s fig tree. She wanted the fragrance to transport her back just a bit, to a time when her people were still with her, when life wasn’t so sorrow-filled.

Just writing this makes me tear up.

Mr. Coleman would sniff trees, and while I’ve never seen him hug a tree I am confident that he did; because a friend once told me that Mr. Coleman would stand in his front yard and proclaim, “Look at this beautiful day. Just look at the day the Lord has made for us!”

Yes, Mr. Coleman sniffed trees, and he loved them so much he shared them with others.  fig

My Appalachian folk have raised me to believe that the more you have, the more you give. Since I have Mr. Coleman’s memories tucked in my heart, my precious friend needed Mr. Coleman’s tree nestled up against her house. She needed to sniff the tree. She needed a bit of Mr. Coleman, a little bit of goodness, a little bit of the old days whose roots began in a rusty coffee can.

What little bit of goodness do you have to share? Plant the gift of friendship in someone’s heart today.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches; Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. A Hardscrabble Christmas. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. Order signed copies or, email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

On the day you were born

On the day you were born

On the day you were born nothing went according to my plan.

I had read What to Expect When You are Expecting.

I had dog-eared the pages.

I was prepared.

Ready.

Let’s do this. Let’s gather together and welcome my daughter into this world.

My brother-whom you definitely would want by your side in any emergency situation-was by mine, as was my mother, and my dad until things got bad.

And they did, get bad.

We were known as the miracle birth, because we were both so close to death. I remember the nurse standing on a stool squeezing IV fluid into me . . . fast.

I was cold, so very cold.

I remember the doctor, shouting, “Bring me the baby! She needs to see her daughter!”

He was not my original OBGYN, but a stranger, because we needed-or so it seemed- every available doctor to bring you into this world.

Only you could not come to me; you too were in trouble.

I remember my mother, going from my bed where they were assisting me, to where they were working on you.

Back

Forth

Back

It was quiet. Very quiet.

There was no baby crying from a slapped bottom, not like you see in the movies. Just two teams of hospital staff. One working on you, the other on me with my mother torn between her daughter and her grand daughter.

I remember tears. Not my own, but tears splashed on the lenses of mother’s glasses.

Helpless tears of a Mother who was watching two souls quickly fade.

And aren’t they all helpless tears?

I have often reflected on this separation between us, of a mother and her child which occurred at birth. And I have tried to swim across the distance. I could not reach you then and now that you are eighteen I know it will be a while before I can reach you in the future. And today, I cry.

I cry because I miss my mother.

I cry because you miss your grandmother.

I cry because I wish we had a few more months so she could see you reach this milestone age, graduate high school, go to college. I cry because I have failed on so many levels, all while trying to do my very best. The emotion is uncontrollable, perhaps eighteen years worth of pent-up worry, concern, prayers, fear, bundled with this responsibility called Motherhood is cascading down my face on this the eighteenth anniversary of the day you were born.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches; Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. A Hardscrabble Christmas. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. Order signed copies or, email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 14, 2015 in A Glimpse into My Life

 

Tags:

Dear Readers, Help Me Identify These Plants

It only took a couple warm days to awaken the wildflowers. I’m not exactly an expert when it comes to wildflowers, which is why I am asking y’all to help me identify some flowers just-now emerging from a long winter’s nap. Here are the images:

Photo one:

20150318_112344

Photo Number One

Next up: This one looks familiar, but . . . well, I am not sure.

Plant #2: closeup

Plant #2:

20150318_112446

Plant #2: Closeup

Photo Three: I know this one, it's "Turkey Mustard," tastes like horseradish. Yummy.

Photo Three: I know this one, it’s “Turkey Mustard,” tastes like horseradish. Yummy.

I am confident with image number three. This little precious is a favorite: Dentaria diphylla or, Toothwort is a member of the mustard family. Mamaw Lena calls it “Turkey Mustard,” wonder why?

Photo Four: I think it’s Wintergreen. What do you think?

Photo 4: I'm pretty sure this is Chimaphila maculata: Striped Wintergreen

Photo 4: I’m pretty sure this is Chimaphila maculata: Striped Wintergreen

Photo Five: Darling friends, I haven’t a clue. It’s not a fern. What say ye?

What do my wildflower-loving friends say?

Photo Five: ??

Photo Six: I have looked at this image several times. At first blush I thought it was the same plant as featured in the first photo. Now I am not so certain. Do you know any wildflower experts? What do they think?

20150318_112541

Photo Six:

Photo Seven: I’m pretty sure this is a Buckeye. If so, I am over the moon as Buckeyes are known to be “lucky.”  But alas, I am working on my second case of poison ivy, so this may be poison sumac. Because I wasn’t 100% certain I gave this plant a wide berth.

20150405_154640

Photo Seven: Buckeye? I think so.

Another mystery plant.

Photo 8: ??

Photo Eight:  I was meandering along and noticed this plant. Yet another that leaves me curious.

20150405_202446

Number Nine: Bluets, the darling of spring

Photo Nine: I will leave you with the spring beauty known as Bluets (also called innocence). What a delight to see these lovely faces. I have missed them.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches; Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. A Hardscrabble Christmas. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. Order signed copies or, email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on April 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

No-Fail Seed Germination

By now most gardeners are starting their seeds. Spring Fever is causing us to twitch and ache with the need to feel the dirt on our hands. If you are a believer of “the signs” (meaning starting seeds on the stage of the moon) please wait another week to start your seeds. This will give you plenty of time to click the link and order seeds from Botanical Interests.

If you are new to the blog, or uncertain of how to start seeds, visit my previous blog post here to learn how to convert cartons and containers into mini-greenhouses.

Experienced gardeners know that peppers are one of the most difficult seeds to germinate which is why I share today’s images.

As you can tell by the images, I too have a problem with germination (not). For it appears that every seed I planted germinated and then invited a friend over to germinate as well. Look at those pepper seedlings !!!!20150313_082028 20150313_082052

In fact, each morning when I check on my pepper seedlings it appears that another sprouted during the night. The yellow seedlings in the image greeted me this morning. They are yellow because they have just emerged and haven’t yet been fed by the sun. Sprouting these in a recycled cookie container allows me to close the lid each night. Condensation collects on the leaves and waters the plant without fear of rotting.

Now I do not profess to be a gardening expert, but I would strongly suggest you start seeds using the method incorporated in the link above, and I would highly recommend Botanical Interest seeds for no-fail sprouting.

Soon it will be time to plant these little darlings. My next problem is finding the space for all of these lovelies. Until then #thinkSpring and happy growing.

20150313_082100 20150313_082112

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bi1

Amazon readers: Please remember that I receive no compensation from used books purchased on Amazon. Please follow the links highlighted and underlined on this page to order, or contact a local Bookseller for copies.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches; Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. A Hardscrabble Christmas. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. Order signed copies or, email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.

 

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Seed Sewing Success

A quick follow-up about the seeds I started on 2/21/2015. As always I enjoyed tremendous success with my Botanical Interests Seeds.

If you are just joining me. follow this link to read my seed-starting tips, and how to convert items we discard into mini-greenhouses.

20150305_080352

20150305_080346

Check out the seed clinging to the tender leaf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20150305_080513

Aerial view

 

 

I hope you will give my suggestions a try. I enjoy a high germination rate due in part to these techniques and ordering awesome seeds.

Now it is time to begin the process called “hardening off,” which means I will place the seedlings outdoors on a sunny day when there is some wind. They will NOT go in direct sunlight as that will burn the tender leaves, but slowly work their way into the sun. This process strengthens the seedlings and prepares them for the growing season.

If you haven’t visited the Botanical Interests website, or ordered a catalog, please do so today.

20150305_080441

20150305_080459

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazon readers: Please remember that I receive no compensation from used books purchased on Amazon. Please follow the links highlighted and underlined on this page to order, or contact a local Bookseller for copies.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches; Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. A Hardscrabble Christmas. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. Order signed copies or, email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.

 

 

 

Seed Giveaway Reality

During the months of January and February, while snow and ice blanketed many gardens, spring fever crept into my bones. I approached Botanical Interests and asked them to donate seeds which I would in turn (at my expense) mail as part of a Free Seed Giveaway.

I did this for three reasons:

I believe in Botanical Interests, their mission, their product, their family business, and supporting fine folk.

I wanted to share free seeds with you, my readers, hoping to drive away a bit of the wintertime blues.

I also wanted to share my passion about growing food, while partnering the giveaway with telling people about my latest release: Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. 

Each Friday, I drew a name and contacted the winner. The giveaway came with one catch: that the winner post a picture, or send me an email with a photo so Botanical Interests knows that I am, in fact, giving the seeds away and not hoarding them up in my own house like a mother hen with a clutch of eggs.

This is the second year I’ve given away seeds, so I wasn’t exactly naive when I began the seed giveaway which requires a tremendous investment of time.

In writing blog posts.

In taking, then editing, uploading, inserting photos.

Then sending all of this to social media, twitter, etc.

Or perhaps I was, naive.

As expected, many people commented. They wanted the seeds. I was so happy. I know how I feel when catalogs come in the mail, and then later seeds. My heart leaps! This year I decided to shake up the contest. Some days the giveaway was via Facebook only. Other days, a random name was drawn from those who commented on this blog. While the giveaway was originally slated for Friday, I began awarding more seeds as clouds dipped and the weather turned even gloomier.

We were all depressed with the weather.

The Seed Giveaway became a twice, sometimes thrice, weekly event. All with the same condition . . . that the winner post an image of the seeds, or at minimum acknowledge their winnings by email. (which the blog instructed, and I reminded them to do with a note inserted into the envelope prior to mailing). All winners were contacted via email so they had my email and I had theirs. . . meaning they could communicate with me.

By now you know where I am going. One person. Yes, one person posted a photo of their winning. Another person sent a thank you.

The rest: crickets. Even the school that begged for seeds because they wanted to start a community garden. Nothing.

Two winners actually sent me a LIST of what they wanted to receive. And while I did my best to accommodate their request, neither had the courtesy to send a thank you.

I actually took the time to email them confirming that they did in fact receive their winnings and reminded them to email me images.

Nothing.

An it isn’t because those particular winners weren’t savvy. If you’re posting pics to Facebook, you can email one, or post one to my page.

I hope they sent Botanical Interests a thank you but I sincerely doubt it. So let me say this in all sincerity. Shame. Shame on you. You received ten to fifteen dollars worth of product and didn’t have the common decency to acknowledge the gift!

What is wrong with people?

I would like to understand why someone’s day is so full, so busy, that they can’t say Thank You. Remember now, these are the same people who have plenty of time to leave a comment, yet they are too busy to post a picture. This is what I need to know, moving forward before I determine whether to offer free seeds again next year (which would be my third year of giving away seeds).

Was it too much to ask that winners actually acknowledge their winnings? Personally, I don’t think so. Because here is the reality of giveaways. If the winner does not acknowledge receipt, if the winner doesn’t say thank you, then the contests will disappear faster than a spring snow. Companies will not continue to give away items without results. Companies partner with bloggers like me to benefit everyone. You. Me. Them. We all win, unless you refuse to acknowledge your winnings; and when that happens, we all loose.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches; Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. A Hardscrabble Christmas. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. Order signed copies or, email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here. Amazon readers: Please remember that I receive no compensation from used books purchased on Amazon. Please follow the links highlighted and underlined on this page to order, or contact a local Bookseller for copies.

 
 

Seed-starting Success #SeedSaturday

Gardeners can’t wait any longer. Though the ground be covered with snow and ice, we know these days will soon be gone. It is time to start seeds indoors. Hence the hash tag #SeedSaturday.

Peppers particularly.

Peppers take longer to germinate, and have a longer time from plant to harvest. For that reason we should start them now. Today I share a quick post about what works, and what doesn’t when it comes to seed starting.

What doesn’t work:

Starting seeds in egg shells

Start seeds in egg cartons

Why? Seeds contain most everything they need to germinate. For that reason they will germinate in egg shells, egg cartons, even a plastic bag. However, the seedlings will not survive in a shallow-rooted environment. So step away from Pinterest unless you can plant seedlings days after they sprout (which most of us can not).

Containers that work:20150221_121333
Milk Jugs
Tupperware containers
Plastic bottles
Bakery Department containers

Why? Plastic containers serve as mini-greenhouses for seeds. The environment is warm and cozy. Start saving things you would normally toss in the recycling bin.

The Dirt: I do not purchase “name-brand” dirt infused with fertilizer. Instead, I use topsoil.

Why? I have a terrible habit of over watering. Potting soil compacts when wet and becomes a perfect environment for mold. If you know you won’t over water, use potting soil. But, topsoil works for me, and is far cheaper.

Another tip: 

Heat the dirt. Yes, my friends. I place a bowl of dirt into the microwave for approximately two minutes (or until it is warm to the touch). Doing so gives your greenhouse the added boost of pre-heating, kills most diseases and even some weed seeds. Warming the dirt also shaves a day off the germination process because the dirt doesn’t take a day to warm to room temperature.

abpostIf you use water bottles, or milk jugs, do not cut the top off. Instead, open a door. This allows you to tape the door shut, cap a lid on the top and keep the seeds nice and toasty.

Seed-Soaking: 

I prefer to soak all of my seeds for at least a few minutes prior to planting. This gives the seeds an instant drink, and I also believe it helps in germination.

As you can see I add approximately two inches of dirt in each container.

Then I water the dirt.

Before adding seeds.

Why? Because if I plant the seeds, then add the dirt and water the force and weight of the water scatters the seeds. Moistening the dirt first keeps seeds in place.

Seeds scattered in pre-moistened topsoil

Seeds scattered in pre-moistened topsoil

Finally, don’t forget to label the containers. We all want to think that we will remember the contents of our containers. However, once seedlings emerge I have forgotten.

20150221_124303

Don’t forget the labels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you will give my suggestions a try. I enjoy a high germination rate due in part to these techniques and ordering awesome seeds. If you haven’t visited the Botanical Interest website, or ordered a catalog please do so today.

bi1

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches; Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. A Hardscrabble Christmas. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. Order signed copies or, email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 664 other followers