What I’ve Been Doing This Week.

I’m hoping this pandemic lasts all summer.  Why? I’m learning a lot about the real me. The real (pandemic) me has no need for bowls. Pandemic me eats right out of the pot until whatever was in it is gone.  With another month or two of this I will have achieved the kind of insight into my true self that it would take a team of psychiatrists many years to unearth.

Rhubarb Crisp. One of the many “serves 6”  things I’ve eaten right out of the pan.

Did you know you don’t absolutely *have* to wear pants outside? Because you don’t. In Pandemicland I have twice seen people walk past my house with no pants. I have no idea where their pants went or why they chose not to wear them. But that’s not the important part. The important part is that my first thought wasn’t, That person isn’t wearing pants therefore they are insane. My first thought was – Why in God’s name am I still wearing pants?

The longer this goes on the more we’re reverting to our true selves. The selves that think zippers and buttons are for suckers.

It’s too exhausting to keep up with social norms like pant wearing and bowl using.  We need to focus all of our energy on things that actually matter like when someone will come up with a vaccine and home hair bleaching You Tube videos.

I’ve learned that deep down, I am the sort of person who stands at the stove and eats an entire pot of rice pudding with the wooden spoon I used to stir it. That’s who I am at my core. A pot licker. I didn’t know that about me. 

I am also someone who will wear the same clothing for 4 days in a row, take one day off from the outfit, and then go back to it on day 6. No I do not wash it in between wearings. Pandemic Karen hates doing laundry even more than pre-pandemic Karen did.


In keeping with the Armageddon trend the world is on, I was able to make it to my community garden exactly once this week when for 10 minutes it wasn’t raining, snowing or Breaking Newsing. I ran up just to pick some asparagus (which was limp and mushy because it had been hit by frost.)

It was during that trip that the annual dance began.

I have never ever seen a rabbit (actually a hare) in my garden this early. But there it was, flying out of one of my raised beds when I scared it by swearing at my compost pile.

The compost pile was in need of swearing at due to the fact that it hadn’t decomposed at all all winter.  I’ll let you know next week whether or not the swearing worked.  Back to the rabbit or as I pointed out – the hare.

As it turns out, hares don’t normally eat things like seedlings and young shoots, they eat bark and twigs for the most part. This being Pandemicland however, I suspect things have changed in the animal world as well and fully expect this hare to everything I plant, plus my garden tools.


Nurseries finally opened this week.  I’ve grown a lot of my own seedlings but there are certain things I always buy and I always buy them from the same place: William Dam Seeds. They have a good disease resistant plum tomato I like and I always get my broccoli, sweet peppers and some hybrid tomatoes for Betty. Plus you know, whatever else piques my interest. 

The store opened at 9 a.m. on Friday. I was there standing in line at 8:10 a.m. and I wasn’t even the first one there. There were 6 others ahead of me including the chair of our garden, Greg, who texted me at 8 to remind me I’d better get up there.

So I did. It was raining.  Pandemicland you see.

By the time they opened the doors at 9 o’clock and I was walking into the store, people were lined up all along the building, through their parking lot, up the driveway and onto the highway. I felt quite clever and smug as I shook my umbrella off, masked up and entered the nursery to manically buy whatever plants happened to be in front of me.

A half an hour later I was back home, realized I made some pretty big mistakes in my seedling buying, all of which didn’t really matter except for the onions. I planted onions myself this year and they look great but I wanted MORE.  MORE ONIONS.  I accidentally bought 2 containers of Red Onions instead of 1 red and 1 yellow.

After working at home long enough to feel like I deserved a break I hopped in my car to head back to the nursery to see if I could butt in line just to exchange my onions.  I had a whole sob story ready that included references to a mental hospital, memory loss, PTSD and a chocolate allergy.

I was almost sad I couldn’t use my story when I drove in and realized the place was empty. No umbrellas. No lineup. Just a few customers casually choosing their plants at a reasonable time of day in luxuriously dry clothing.


The very first thing I did when I got my tomatoes home from the nursery was to cut the tops off of them. This isn’t an indication of me losing my mind, (although eating 6 servings of rhubarb crisp out of the pan at the counter is) it’s because I’m experimenting with tomato grafting.

Grafting has been done on fruit trees for centuries (made that up, but I stand by it) but it’s only in the last 10 years or so that people have started to graft tomatoes. The reason for it is that heirloom tomatoes LOOK the best and they TASTE the best, but they aren’t the best in terms of being disease tolerant or productive. You’ll always have less disease and more tomatoes with a hybrid.

For grafting to be really successful you need to use a tomato plant that’s known for being vigorous and disease resistant for the roots.  Then you cut the top off of the plant and attach the TOP portion of an heirloom tomato.

You can  see where I’ve spliced the two tomatoes and stuck them together in this photo below.


The bottom and roots is Mountain Merit, a disease resistant variety, and the top is Pineapple, a BEAUTIFUL multicoloured heirloom tomato that struggles with disease and fruit production. I grew doubles of several heirloom varieties that I like and grafted half of them so I can compare.

The problem is I’m not really using official “rootstock” for grafting. I’m using regular tomatoes that are known to have fairly good disease resistance.  Johnny’s Select Seeds sells seeds for tomatoes that are bred specifically just for their rootstock. Maxifort is the most popular one. 

If my little grafting experiment (just 5 plants) goes well this year I’ll invest in the official seeds next year and do all my heirloom tomatoes that way.  

Provided I’m not exclusively eating foods straight out of a can by then.

What I've Been Doing This Week.

Bad news. After a conversation with some neighbours I’ve discovered the pantless people were actually people wearing jackets that were longer than their shorts. This made them look pantless. 

I am currently hiding behind a shrub, mortified.

Have a good remainder of your weekend and a special happy Victoria Day long weekend for everyone in Canada. For any of you in America who are jealous of our long weekend, you’ve got your own long weekend coming up next weekend so just keep your pants on.


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  1. Shelley says:

    Once again, killer post…per usual.

  2. june says:

    I loved your window nest stories, but you’ll have to admit, this beats all.


  3. Christine Hilton says:

    I am looking for a new nursery.That big one in our area that starts with a “C” as in Connons has completely destroyed my garden plans with unfilled orders for the third year in a row.The worst part is they always call and say “Your order is here” read off the full list so l can hardly drive l am so excited.This year l actually cried on the way home.l got 2 cell packs.l had ordered 2 flats and 12 plants.Any suggestions? Thanks

    • Karen says:

      I shop for my plants all over the place. Holland Park, Terra, Harpers, Paterno, Dutch Mill, Fortinos … It’s hard to find a nursery that carries every single thing you might need. ~ karen!

  4. Alana says:

    Boris Johnson arrived at his first wedding without pants (or shoes)…

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Caftans, love them.
    And no problem going to the mailbox in them. I live in too hot Florida and they can have great fanning action also if needed. There is a reason people in very warm climates wear them.

    Some people even look rather glamorous in them. Me, not so much – I go for comfort, not speed.
    Carry on.

  6. Leslie Russell says:

    I read the rice pudding paragraph and said “ok Google rice pudding recipe”. That is literally as far as I’ve gotten in this article.
    I’ll read the rest after I’ve eaten the entire pot of pudding.

  7. marli says:

    I have to spill this one.

    Last week my husband said, ‘Come for a ride with me, I know where there are some wild leeks growing!’
    I was surprised at this because he’s not a gardener, or a cook, or really one who would know what a leek is. But I played along and off we went.

    We get to the spot where, the day before, he saw a woman dig some up and run back to her car and speed off. I’m not sure any roadside plant heist deserves such a retreat, but what do I know?

    I looked at the greenery and said: ‘Those are day lilies. We have them in our back yard.’

    He said: ‘I don’t think so. These are leeks.’

    Again, this is a man who, when asked by the local lawn care company ‘What is the one thing that would make your yard perfect?’, replied: ‘Black top it and paint it green.’ No, I’m not kidding.

    I waited in the truck.

    He comes back to the truck with a bunch of day lilies, bulbs and all. Frowns at them. Frowns at me. Asks: ‘Well?’ I point out all the small bulbs (not leek like at all) and I sniff at them (not a leek like smell either, surprise!) and I say to him: ‘We could add them to our back yard collection if you’d like?’

    He grumbled, threw them back into the ditch and drove us home.

    Next week we’re looking for truffles. Of course, he thinks truffles are made of chocolate, so who knows what we’ll find!!


  8. Jennifer Roberts says:

    Thank you for this. I spent the last six years having surgeries, due to a moped accident. I lived my life pretty much as you are now living yours. One positive things about COVID-19, is it makes me feel a lot less gross when the entire world is now going through the same experience. While I must admit, I always wore pants, they were of the yoga variety, and I spent most of last summer in my pajamas (even in the garden- cause yoga pant pajamas might be outside pants? The things I tell myself.) Also, I have way more time to garden, and . . . . I am slowly wearing my partner down to get chicks.

    • Nan says:

      Me too!! after back surgery. Somehow it feels more lonely when I can’t see my grandkids, but it is nice that everyone is living the way I have been. I understand.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Karen thanks for all the good tips but where do you get the sleeves for grafting and can you do a step by step How-To?


  10. Joyce says:

    Hah, my neighbor thinks she is sooo smart. Wears a differentiations of grubby clothes for day and night! Did you know, if you just change your drawers you can wear the same thing day and night? Just get a fresh T shirt now and again.
    I think of all the time I wasted buying new “ go to town” clothes last year. I only need those when I go to the grocery every two weeks.
    The transfer station does not care how I dress, I do always wear a clean mask, though.
    Time to find a bra so I can go out and work in the soon to be ready, garden. Don’t want to scare the neighbor’s livestock.

  11. Bonnie Jane Harris says:

    Good one, Karen.

  12. Joe Mota says:

    Hi Karen
    About three years ago Florida University announced a tomato breakthrough. They stated they had developed a tomato that has very high disease resistance, heirloom taste and a higher yield. I ran this info by the local dealers and they said that was probably just marketing.
    We have been growing tomatoes for 30 years, growing about 20 plants per year. Last year we were able to luckily find a dealer that carried these tomatoes and we happy to report that all claims were true. We now only grow 8 plants for our needs.
    Proven Winners are the distributor and the tomatoes are called Garden Treasure.

    Wish we had kept seeds as we are having a tough time finding them again this year.

    Question; Karen would you know if ypou try growing tomatoes from see would they come true?

    Have a great weekend you deserve it.


    • Mary W says:

      YEA! I started some of those, live in Florida, and they germinated. I didn’t know all this about the plant but will take great care with them. I think I bought them directly from Proven Wnners.

      • Joe Mota says:

        Okay, sounds right seed not being true. Check the PW site all they have are the seeds. Hopefully, we will be able to find them somewhere. if you come across let me know and we travel to buy them. Definitly worth the drive. BTW how did you like Garden Treasure?

      • Joe Mota says:

        Lucky you. They are great. Let us know what you think of them,pleasr

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joe. I have those tomatoes, I actually got them the year they were released. In fact I used Garden Treasure as the rootstock for one of my grafts. Heirloom varieties are open pollinated which breed true. But hybrids (which is what I believe the Garden Treasure would be classified as) don’t breed true. ~ karen!

      • Joe Mota says:

        Okay, sounds right seed not being true. Check the PW site all they have are the seeds. Hopefully, we will be able to find them somewhere. if you come across let me know and we travel to buy them. Definitly worth the drive. BTW how did you like Garden Treasure?

  13. Brian says:

    When I was a ‘kid’ and mom was nowhere to be found I would make a pot of tapioca. Rush it to the freezer to cool down. Then I would run to the basement and eat the whole pot, wash and dry it put it away as if nothing had transpired except for the missing tapioca pearls. Ahh for the good old days.

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      You were a weird kid. My mum called tapioca “fish eyes” and thank gawd never made me eat if, unlike just about everything else she cooked. To this day, I absolutely refuse to eat it, not even to be polite. Yuck. 😛

      • Brian says:

        Think your mum was using the large tapioca pearls. They’re the ones that resemble ‘fish eyes’. If you can get passed the visual they are still very good. Today I get my tapioca fix from the Chinese buffets on the pudding/jello counter. Just not the same as I used to make. Try it again you may like it.😉

    • Karen says:

      I haven’t had tapioca in years. I may have to add it to the rotation. ~ karen!

  14. Quatorze says:

    Where did you get the black plastic thing you used to hold the grafted tomato to the host plant? Is that something you can buy, or did you make it out of something else? Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      I made it out of something else. It’s heat shrink tubing. I’d much prefer actual grafting clips, but I used what I had and so far so good. ~ karen!

  15. billy sharpstick says:

    I generally wear a sarong around the house and yard. When I want to be more formal, I wear a kilt. Insane, some would think so, kilt or not. I’m surprised kilts were invented in Scotland. I live in Florida. Think about that.

  16. Susan says:

    Oh my gosh, I love the comments on this post! I thought I had written the pandemic clothing playbook because I’ve had a couple of years of retirement as practice but everybody’s catching up. I bought 2 identical sets of fleece jogging pants and a jacket and I throw them on every morning in case I have to chase my escape artist of a dog down the street. Unless I need groceries, it’s painful to think about going upstairs and having to properly dress. When it gets hot, what are we going to wear? Some of us NEED a bra, you know! You can disguise the freedom with winter clothes but summer clothes might require staying in my own yard.

    • Mary W says:

      The day I retired I removed that horse harness of a bra and never looked back. I also bought many pairs of Crocs and that is the only shoe I own and wear – so comfortable. I do have to dig out a bra if I go into town or doctor but hate every minute and rush to remove it once I get home. Retirement marked my freedom day and I’m so enjoying it.

  17. sideroad 40 says:

    I look forward to seeing the results of your tomato grafting experiments….could open up a whole new world for home gardeners!

  18. Funny that you have given up bowls, I’ve passed on plates for the pandemic. Everything must be eastern from a bowl with a spoon, if it requires a fork then it’s finger food (and that even counts for a T-bone). My husband just stares at me as if I’m a savage. I still remember pants, but undergarments have been skipped. Not sure that I will go back to the more civilized me, I’m not sure I like her anymore

    • Karen says:

      Oh civilized you is probably fine. You’ll go back to you from Pandemic you as soon as this is over. You’ll just do it while not wearing underwear. ~ karen!

  19. Jenny W says:

    I remember, in the olden days, (back in February) when I would sneak out of the house in my pj’s or robe under the cover of darkness to put out the trashcans.
    Now, on those days where I can not be bothered to dress, I stand in my yard and talk to my neighbours in my bathrobe and slippers, no makeup and severe bed head, because who cares, right?
    I had Jeans (Gasp!), makeup and my extensions in the other day (big day out to the grocery store) and I swear no one in my hood knew who I was lol!

    • Barbara H. says:

      Oh Jenny, I so loved your beginning sentence referring to the “olden days, (back in February)”. So true, so true, though since 2007 I have lived out in the country on 3 acres and often take my morning coffee out to the garden in my nightgown and robe. That changes when the chiggers become active. Thanks for the laugh.

    • Karen says:

      I do the same thing when I go to the grocery store (which I believe has been 3 times since March. The grocery store is now officially “going out”.😂 ~ karen!

  20. Kat says:

    “Hiding behind a bush mortified.”

    Just pretend you’re a guy.

    From what I’ve seen of some of our neighbors,( take that any way you want,) that would solve your problem. Lol ;)

  21. Gigi says:

    So you’ve been a busy girl as usual. I’m wondering if you would please do an edging beds tutorial? It might seem second nature to you of course, but a nicely trimmed bed just looks so much better and I can’t quite get the hang of it. Do you have a special tool? Just use a line trimmer with that whipping fish line cutting everything in site? Lawn scissors? What is your weapon and method of choice in your home garden and your plot? Curious minds want to know.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Gigi. To edge a bed you need to use an “edger”. A tool like a shovel that will cut away the sod to give the edge of your lawn a sharp edge. You cut the edge and leave sort of a V shaped trench between the lawn and whatever it butts up to. :) ~ karen!

  22. TucsonPatty says:

    I have been wearing the same pair of pants for the approximately 3 minutes it takes every day to go out to the mailbox and back. That is (approximately for easier math), 5 minutes per wearing, times 5 days a week, times 8 weeks and 3 days (= 59 days) Total of 1475 minutes = 24.58333333 hours. I’ve been wearing those pants for 3 eight hour work days. Not bad, In the meantime I’ve gone through 2 t-shirts a day – cuz Tucson. 118 shirts? Lots of t-shirt laundry. 1/2 of them are sleeping ones so no hanging, just sloppy folding.
    Okay, I’m kind of horrified, but not really. I have loved this pseudo retirement, and I’m ready for it, when it comes!! I’ve been doing hair for 60 flipping years and I’m ready. I want to work a couple more years, but I am too nervous to go outside. People are not taking this seriously enough. My cousin just died in Kansas in a nursing home, aged 76. (it was early onset Alzheimer’s.) I’ll shut up now, we are trying to laugh here.
    Karen, I love it when people use a coat because it’s cold outside, but they are wearing shorts.
    I think there have been about 6 visitors to my front door, and they stand far back. It’s already been 105 or hotter here. Geeze Louise!
    I love your stories of your neighbors, and I’m going to go read about the Robins, again. Your hot composting needed the rain to keep it moist (moist heh). Now you just have to turn it and give it another soaking. Cheers.

    • TucsonPatty says:

      P.S. I desperately want that gorgeous pan of rhubarb crumble. I would have it in the fridge and go get a spoonful every 10 minutes or so. It looks so good!

    • Karen says:

      I shall let all my neighbours know that they will now be the sole focus of all my posts. I believe they will just love that. Ha! ~ karen

  23. Susan Lalor says:

    Do you have gophers? If so do they bite into your drip system? I have a large in ground garden plus raised beds and a drip system would be so great.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susan! I don’t think there are gophers at the garden, which is odd because we have everything else. Nothing else chews on the lines though. Rabbits, voles, mice, snakes, raccoons … ~ karen!

  24. Jo Ann says:

    Sleepless in Atlanta paid off because I’m the first to leave a comment.

    Fiddlely-dee pants are taboo below The Mason/Dixon Line or at least in my house at 1:30 am.
    Me… Shaking my hand to the sky while grasping a ratty pair of shorts, while standing in a potato field and screaming “As God is my witness I’m never wearing pants again!”

    Darlin you’re a delight at the wee hours of the morning.

  25. Brenda says:

    I KNEW IT (sort of) … in my first year gardening, I’d grown the best zucchini plant only to have it snap in half as I was transporting it to the garden … I was so traumatized that I masking taped a popsicle stick to the stem and went about planting it and it grew … so I could have added the cucumber I broke off too instead of giving up on it. I can’t wait to hear more about your tomato grafting experiments.

    ps – the cops wouldn’t let me drive into High Park to my allotment garden on the day we were allowed in … we all have to walk a mile in and a mile out with our wheel barrels and tools and mulch and sheers and pitchforks and shovels and bales of straw and trays of plants and I have stupid mobility issues so there’s no guarantee I’d make it in and then out alive … so I had to go home and use all my fury to write every Tom, Dick and Harry alive in Ontario about it so they can help me figure out who might be able to correct this oversight … I mean there were service vehicles going in … the BIG COP’s car was in and he didn’t even have a mask on and there I was wearing mine to protect him against my germs as I showed him my signed Garden Permit AND my City Accessible Parking Permit too. The good news though was that our whole community came together the next day after I got on the blower about and everyone is helping to bring things in on bikes for all the other gardeners … which worked out well for people who have the stamina to walk in and out after gardening … lots of seniors are in the same situation I am in … but at least it brought a lot of robust 6′ apart people together to help one another which is so nice.

    And I’ll be fine, I have a roof deck and I’m going to use it in 2 weeks if nothing gets solved and I can’t use my car to go in.

    pps – you might like to know about this thing my friend’s husband told me when I gave them my favourite dish scrubby as a gift … he said they don’t need the scrubby for his plates because he licks his and so no food ever drys on his plates. He said it like his wife would be proud of him for sharing this information … you know those awkward silences that used to happen before the pandemic when we could get together with people.

    ppps – ALSO – on a FB gardening group, Toronto women were posting about going out in their backyards in nighties … it’s a thing! I did it on my roof.

    • Karen says:

      Going in their backyard in their nighties? What’s a nightie? Like a nightgown? How is that not just normal, lol? I’m soooo confused. ~ karen!

      • Brenda says:

        you guessed it + I don’t think they’re wearing panties – so it’s like no shorts – tee hee – but I’m reading between the lines here though that they might be going out in the cold in those silky slinky ones to check on plants (not in the big flannel ones that go down to the ground and wind up like a cool scarf around your neck while you sleep – which makes them easy to take off in the morning) … anyways YES it’s a total ‘thing’ … one of the longest threads on a post in about a month or so

  26. Sandy says:

    Good morning. Those pineapple tomatoes sound amazing. I hope your grafting works. Then I can let my hubby know so he can do the same here. He says he hasn’t heard of a “pineapple tomato”. He grows tomatoes, basil and onions so he can make fresh salsa. YUM!! Best of luck, and put your pants back on.

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