Sunday, May 18, 2008

Rain, rain, go away

I've been working between the raindrops to get my gardens planted. Not much actual planting, so far. I'm creating new beds. So mostly I've been moving plants and digging up weeds in anticipation of tilling. It's slow work. It's hard work. Gardening is the reason I don't belong to a gym. I'm not looking for recreational exercise. I get a lot of exercise just keeping my yard in shape. When I get a break, I'm looking for recreational recreation.

Speaking of recreation, I gave Daddy Cat one leaf of fresh catnip. I grow it in hanging pots, so the cats don't "over-imbibe." But some seed from last year's nip fell to the ground below. It's growing like crazy!

Mmmmmmm, nip!

No, I wasn't drooling!

I'm several years behind on my weeding. I have half an acre of gardens, and the woods tries to take them over every year. Undiagnosed celiac left me puffy and bent and sickly for the last five summers. I was a little better last summer, and started my "catch up" plan.

My body was puffed up, about 25 lbs heavier than it had ever been. My joints ached. I was told my backache was sciatica, and my foot pain was plantar's fasciitis. And my joint pain was arthritis. I marveled at my Santa-like belly. It felt so foreign, it might as well have been a third foot sticking out of my stomach. I couldn't lose weight, no matter how little I ate. My eyes were constantly puffy, and my vision was frequently blurred. My hair fell out in patches. Doctors gave me first prednisone pills, then steroid injections to make it grow back. The hair that fell out was curly brown hair. The hair that grew back was straight, stark while. I'd already discovered that I was allergic to permanent hair colors. So I was dismayed at my strange appearance. I felt like I had the flu, every day. It was a struggle to make it to work, let alone work in my yard.

So that's why I got behind on weeding . Five years behind.

In March, 2007, I had two encouraging breakthroughs where my health is concerned. A doctor decided to (finally!) test me for food allergies. Wheat allergies did not show up, but broccoli, cabbage, bananas and pineapple did. I'd been eating a lot of these foods, for my health. (Ha!)

So I eliminated these foods and began to see some improvement in my general health. Not recovery, but improvement.

Then a friend of mine gave me a bottle of Mona Vie acai juice to try. I'd tried a lot of snake oil over my five years of mysterious illness. So I was skeptical. I was pleasantly surprised to find it did me some good! I wasn't quite so puffy, and some weight just fell off me. After drinking 2 ounces a day for about two weeks, my hair started growing back! It had never grown back without those awful steroids! So I knew all those antioxidants were helping.

I had more energy than I'd in four years. I could, occasionally, put in a full day of yard work. I made a plan to "save" my gardens, and got a good start on it.

I still drink Mona Vie every day. It offers the highest concentration of acai juice available. Acai is a magic berry from the rainforest. It naturally reduces inflamation. I had a lot of inflamation! Everywhere! And reducing it a little let me see how different foods impacted my symptoms. A year later, I figured out wheat was the biggest culprit. I'll settle for my self diagnosis of celiac disease. The doctors have been wrong so many times that I've taken charge of my own health. It just took me a long time to get to the starting point. And all those misdiagnoses cost me a bundle. I could have a new car with all the money I've paid doctors to be wrong.

I finally feel like I'm in the "rebuilding" stage of my life, instead of the "circling the drain" stage.

So, back to the gardens! Spring is starting slowly here in the midwest. That's okay. I've needed the extra prep time.

Last summer, I decided to consolidate some of my flower beds. I inherited 128 varieties of day lilies when I bought this house. I love them all and wanted to keep one of each. So I moved some of the plants from the back gardens to up around the pond. I installed weedcloth and mulch between the plants. I even went to southern Indiana and collected a lot of limestone. Now the plants are closely spaced, with mulch and limestone pathways in between. And I get to mow the back gardens instead of fretting about all the weeds.

This week I've spent three long days moving plants out of the garden by the front door. I disposed of five trash bags of weeds, roots and all. That bed is well-drained and gets hot afternoon sun. So I'm turning it into the okra and onion bed. They like those particular conditions. And okra is a really pretty plant. Its blooms look like hibiscus blooms, and bugs don't eat my okra leaves. I've found a compact variety of okra called "Baby Bubba." I hope it's as pretty as the taller varieties I've tried in the past.

I've worked in the dirt for ten to twelve hours for three days in a row. That's my little miracle!

For encouragement, I walk around the yard and see how my early vegetables are doing. And I visit my tiny peaches. They're smaller than my cherries this time of year. They are so cute and fuzzy!

Here's what's growing at Kay's Leaning Tree Farm:

Snow peas

Asparagus. It grows in the myrtle.
The myrtle is high enough to block the sun, so some of the spears are white.

Lettuce. This is the mixed row.

My sage is ready to bloom.


I did all my cooking for the week last Sunday. I made a pizza, baked bread, baked a chicken, and tried two new recipes. Melanie over at The Gluti Girls fixed a great potato salad for Mother's Day. It uses a vinaigrette dressing and it's quite tasty! I added some baby spinach. Carrie at Ginger Lemon Girl entered an oatmeal recipe in a contest on Gluten Free Goodness. It's in the comments section. I baked some of her fantastic apple oatmeal bars. I added a little rhubarb.

So that's why I haven't posted any new recipes of my own. I was living off other people's great ideas last week. I hope to spend lots of time in the garden again this week, and keep kitchen time to a minimum. I plan to make time to enter my oatmeal recipe in the contest. I need to convert an old favorite to gluten free. I'll get around to that when it rains, or after dark.


Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

Love the garden photos! Gorgeous. Have acai in my freezer to try it for the first time. . . .

Vittoria said...

Your garden looks lovely! I wish I had one again, concrete stoops can only hold so much. It's awful that you suffered for so long, as have many of us. So much for doctors, a self diagnosis is probably always the best. After my diagnosis and going GF, I still have issues I'm trying to sort out and I found the blood type diet is really helping me. Best of luck with the garden!