What I’ve Been Doing This Week.

Every night this week I’ve been up at my community garden planting the things I should have planted a month ago but couldn’t because of the whole end of the world thing. When my garden was opened I figured, PHEW, everything will be back to normal now.  And then I watched a frog climb up a fence and reassessed.

There’s a lot of wildlife around my garden. Therefore there’s a lot of wildlife in my garden.  Fluffy, slimy, warted … all wandering around, looking for places to hang out, maybe grab a beer. 

Because of this I consider myself to be a bit of an expert on none of them. Other than knowing they exist, my knowledge of toads for example is this; they are toads. I just haven’t given it a lot of thought. They’re probably not much different than I am. We both like to be outside in the garden, appreciate a good meal and have warts.

But that’s it. That’s all I know about toads.

Actually that’s not true, I also know that toads are shy and tend to stay hidden until you start swinging a massive, sharp hoe in their direction at which point they will swan dive in spectacular fashion, directly at your face.

Toads, as it turns out, are quite gymnastic so I shouldn’t have been surprised to see one of them climbing a fence this week – but I was.  

Also surprising … seeing a painted turtle. It was just outside of my plot, which is an unusual site.  When I got closer up to the turtle I could see it had dug a hole and was just sitting there. Half an hour later she was giving birth.

The turtle digs a hole and then buries her eggs to hide them from predators because like any mother her number one priority is to protect her children. And to remember to buy wine on the way home.

It was FASCINATING and there’s video of it in my Instagram highlights.  

Now, we’re up to a fence climbing toad, an incredibly rare view of a turtle laying eggs so now it’s time to add in the festival of snakes.


Scaryyyyyyy.  Snakes!   You don’t want to be, you don’t mean to be but there you are – afraid of snakes for no reason at all. I happen to like and get along with snakes, but not everyone does. Some people in fact kill snakes for no reason at all. 

For those of you who are anti-snake I’m sorry but there is going to be another snake photo. I just thought I should warn you.  I’m not sure why I didn’t think of warning you before the first photo. 

So this snake, which was one of several I found in the garden one night, has claimed my compost bin as its own. Compost bins are warm and protected which is exactly the kind of place snakes like to claim as their own. A safe, cozy home makes a snake happy.

So when I went to open up my compost bin to dig some out of the bottom I tapped on the bin with my foot a few times.  You probably didn’t realize that I speak snake, (nobody likes a bragger) but I do. Tapping your foot a few times is snake for “Hey. I’m here and I’m coming in, so you might wanna just slip out for a second.”

He didn’t care.  Or she didn’t care. I’m not sure which, but if I open the compost bin next week and find it littered with socks and take-out boxes I’ll have my answer.


Most of this was all within half an hour of each other. It was like gardening in a low rent Floridian reptile theme park. 

And the same night all this happened a neighbour told me she saw a coyote walking down the middle of the street at around 10 o’clock at night. This isn’t in the country or even the suburbs, this is in the middle of a town. Things are not normal.


Thursday night was pretty quiet at the garden with just a constipated frog hanging around to keep me company. I could tell he was constipated.  He had that look.

I got to plant my corn. I planted way too many varieties: Dakota Black popcorn, Glass Gem Corn, Peaches and Cream corn and Serendipity corn.  I’ll probably be lucky and have enough time for the sweet corns and the popcorn to mature, but I’m pushing it for the Glass Gem corn which takes a lot longer than the others to form.


Back at home the ranunculus I bought from Dahlia May Flower farm are blooming. Over and over again, I just keep cutting them off and putting them in the vase with the others. Ranunculus have an incredible vase life, lasting for a couple of weeks so you can just keep adding to it.

Also at home, I experimented with germinating regular old mustard seed that I had in my spice cupboard. This after a fellow gardener proclaimed he had finally thought of something exciting to grow (that I hadn’t already grown.) MUSTARD. 

When he told me about his idea, we looked at each other with pity, sorry for how stupid the other one was at never having thought of this before.

Of COURSE we should grow mustard!! So I’ll be planting some black and brown mustard seeds this weekend.

These are the seeds from my spice drawer that I germinated in a damp paper towel. I ate a few and they’re spicy! They taste like a radish if a radish unloaded a machine gun in your mouth.

Even with gun toting mustard seeds, fence climbing frogs, composting snakes and egg laying turtle, this next surprise was the biggest of the week.

What you’re looking at is a Bells of Ireland plant, grown from seed. I knew they were doubling in size every few days so they were healthy, but Thursday night when I pulled back the leaves to have a look at the plant, I found the bells.  

I wonder how long those bells were stuck back there just waiting to be seen.  

Things definitely aren’t normal this year. At all.  This year we’re actually comprehending that no matter how different we look we are all the same. In the important ways anyway.

We enjoy a garden, a good meal, a safe home and want to protect our kids. We are at times stunned at our own obliviousness. 

We are all the same but we are not equal. 

This year we are acknowledging that, feeling shame for that and trying to change that.

This year we are taking to the streets to change that.


  1. Beckie says:

    I’ve had a pet toad for nearly 15 years. He was barely more than a tadpole when my (then very young) niece wanted to keep him as a pet. Turns out, toads like being “in captivity”. They live about 5 years in the wild, they can live to be 30 in the care of humans. He is quite happy to wait for food to drop from the sky for him. I have him in a 10 galleon aquarium. He gets to be outside sometimes, as well.

    You want the toad to live in your garden!! He will eat all the yucky pests! They earn their keep quiet well. Have a shallow dish of water (they drink through their skin) and an upturned flower pot with a bit of a break at the rim for a doorway.

    Toads are awesome! My toad’s name is Biscuit =)

    • Karen says:

      Oh yes, I know. I encourage toads in my garden. They don’t need pots in my garden, they burrow into the soil. It keeps them safer from the snakes. :) ~ karen!

  2. Rebecca Ruth Hess says:


  3. Carmen says:

    I just love this post😊❤️

  4. Kat says:

    Peaceful protests for change that needs to happen is one thing, but where I live some of the protesters (rioters) are just attacking unsuspecting people for no reason other than they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Burning down homes and businesses while people are still in them.
    That is not justice!
    That is HATE!

    And terrifying.

  5. ML says:

    I’m late to the party and to comment! I’m an old lady (gggg I hate to say it) but young at heart who has finally found contentment in playing in the dirt, pulling weeds, growing collard greens and kissing my 2 dogs (I also kiss my hub of 54 years, but not as passionately). Just found your blog a few days ago and am wondering where you’ve been. Subscribed immediately and received my first post on Sunday. Smiles, tears and a dose of humility. I’m so happy we’re on a path to a new normal. Thank you for your wonderful insight. 😘

  6. Lynn says:

    Oh Style Guru,
    Where oh where did you get that vase??????? I really want one! All that lovely visual texture wrapped up in something useful! Really, where can I find one?
    Searching for style in Seattle ;-)

  7. Looks like a fun time at the reptile garden! Just planted our seedlings in the greenhouse last week, and we found a robin’s nest in the greenhouse (she got in through a hole in the roof).
    We are a little concerned about it getting too hot in their for the eggs. We’ve been leaving the door and window open for them. One of them hatched last night but the chick doesn’t look to healthy :( … we don’t want to move the nest because the garden is teeming with crows. Any recommendations people?

  8. Darcy says:

    Karen, this post nailed it. Who would have imagined that you could run the gamut from leaping toads to social justice? Your turtle laying eggs spotting must have felt unreal. I saw my first beaver in the wild the other day and felt shock and awe. I’m from California and recently moved to El Paso, Texas. Did you know they have beavers in El Paso? Well, neither did I.

  9. Marie Anne says:


  10. Nan Lorenz says:

    You touched my heart (and funny bone) with your gardening spot and my soul with your ending. Love you Lady ❤️

  11. Gary Boutin says:

    Hi Karen,
    love this share post, I am four month behind on my planting, just finished tilling, applying manure and lime to my garden plot. I was given the plot that had been unused for over 5 years. So now it’s all nice soil and next week I am going to start to plant it. So far I have one cactus, artichoke, and watermelon to plant. The rest is up to me. I had a great time reading your blog, loved the fence frog, the turtle and the snake. Happy to see you planting. I must try corn too. I notice Karen you were planting and there was fabric that you had hole into my question is why the fabric, what is purpose? As for change we are having to deal with Covid so why not change the equality of our planet in the same year. I enjoyed each one of your post and I can’t wait for the next one. Gary

  12. CG says:


  13. Juliana says:

    I have failed at Rannaculus 4 years in a row. At least this year I have leaves?

  14. margaret says:

    I’m so glad to find I’m not the only one still planting things I should have planted a month ago. (Actually, I’m still working on getting the planter for planting them in up and running…).
    I once grew Bells of Ireland, but concluded they weren’t enough bang for my energy/space buck. I think I’m more into subtleties now, though!
    I will envy you the egg-laying turtle forever; just reading about it gave me the thrill of maybe all Spring, and your photos are awesome. Hope you can report on baby turtles sometime…
    But most of all, I’m awed at all the people taking to the streets to change things, and I do what I can too. I so hope you are right that the changes will come, and that it will be in time for my grandees, if not for me…

  15. Maria Tocco says:

    I so enjoy your posts. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Teresa says:

    yes! Change will come because we are bringing it! Best post yet.

  17. Peggy says:

    I looked and looked and I sure didn’t see any bells! As always, learning from you!

    • Ellen says:

      It took me a while to see them too! Look again, they are the same color green as the leaves and run north-south along the stem.

  18. Linda in Illinois says:

    Karen you are real. Love you.

  19. Linda says:

    Your ability to make me laugh out loud and tear up in the same post is a testament to what an amazing writer you are! Love your blog, your sense of humor and insight. Thank you for writing what others may be hesitant to say.

  20. Mary says:

    The leaders of the world need to be women….who have their own real gardens, dirty hands, snakes turtles,frogs and stained T shirts. There would be peace everywhere.

  21. Laura says:

    So enjoy your posts!

    Do you use the black landscape fabric over your entire garden, or just for the corn? Can it be used from year to year? I’d be so curious for a tutorial on that!

    • Karen says:

      I bought it this spring for the entire garden but didn’t have time to cut and burn it so I just did the corn. If you bring it in for the winter it can last years and years and years. ~ karen!

      • Laura says:

        Thanks so much for your reply — and for all the fun, observation, introspection, and instruction you bring!!

  22. Marlene says:

    Thank you so much for this post, an arrow straight to my heart. Instead of the usual laughter you left me all weepy because I have a black grandbaby (the love of my life), a black husband and son in law. Every time I think of what they have been through or will go through just because of the amount of melatonin on their skin my heart aches for them. I’m praying for change, acceptance and inclusion, for a society that resembles the beautiful life in your city garden.

  23. Marilyn Majalca says:


  24. Kate Budacki says:

    Let me add my very unoriginal comment to the others – best post ever!

  25. Vikki says:

    I enjoyed this post so much. I needed that…..we all need that.

  26. Linda Simpson says:

    Things definitely are not normal this year. I am sorry for all those who have lost their lives to a virus we know virtually nothing about, and all those who have suffered with it. I yearn for black lives to matter. I lost my father 4 days into this year, and my daughter had to have breast surgery. Through all of this, I have been so grateful and blessed to have a wonderful home and backyard to “hunker down” in. It appears to me that you, too, are looking at the wonders around you and savoring the blessings from them. Maybe we needed “not normal.”

  27. Jody says:

    All the wildlife just shows what a healthy garden you have. Did someone inform the RBG about the turtle nesting site. I believe they want to know so they can protect the site from other widllife.

  28. Larry W. says:

    I agree with Christine and others – your best post yet. Keep them coming and thanks for putting into such eloquent words what most of us feel in our hearts.

  29. Karin B Gately says:

    Your best post yet. This has been a difficult year but if we understand the lessons that the universe is trying to teach us the years ahead could be so much better. Who wants to go back to the old “normal” when we can do so much better. Not me. Thanks for your always funny yet wonderfully insightful posts.

  30. Jackie Reese says:

    Wonderful and insightful thoughts. May we never forget what we’ve learned this year.

  31. Deirdre says:

    So beautifully said. Thank you

  32. Mel says:

    Hi! I haven’t started my sweet corn. Did you plant corn seeds this week or had you started seedlings and planted those out? I live just east of Toronto, so we have a similar growing season. I’ve been seeing lots of wildlife too and they are bold coming up to within a few feet of me. The snakes I could handle but the raccoons, snunks and possums. Nope.

    • Karen says:

      I normally plant corn on June 1st but everything was so crazy this year, I just got it in this week. So yup, you should definitely get it in. ~ karen!

  33. Brian says:

    Great blog. Hopefully the snakes don’t find Ms Turtles brood. To snakes – frogs, toads, and turtle eggs- make for fine dining. It’s just nature. You are right, things are not normal (what is normal?) and change is gonna come, it just has to.

  34. Lin says:

    Thank you for sharing your garden blessings and thoughtful words.

  35. Laura Ernce says:

    I want to be you! Do you give yours? Where do you live?

  36. laurie howard says:

    so beautiful…very moving post
    Thank you for sharing this.

  37. Carol in Montreal says:

    What a wonderful, funny, interesting and informative post, Karen, like all of them but extra special this time. Thanks!

  38. Joyce says:

    Amen, sista! We are all alike! We need to take it the streets and the polling places!

  39. Nancy Lane says:

    Beautiful, beau, beautiful. Bells of Ireland were my mother in laws favourite flower so I am a bit weepy at your talking about them. Spot on blog Karen.

  40. Kat says:

    One of my favorite blogs that you have written yet!

  41. Debbie D says:

    So pleased to see people trying to change things too! You will need to keep us updated on Mr. Toad’s wild ride (didn’t know they had tails! and yes, I have had one take a swan dive at my face too!), the Turtles (are they Happy Together–only someone who lived in the 60″s will get that one) and lovely Mr or Ms Snake. I hope and pray that the spirit of change will continue.

  42. Grammy says:

    Everything about this post is good. Frogs, toads, turtles, snakes, all are fine with me. But I have never, ever seen a turtle lay eggs except on TV in a nature program. Did you somehow mark where she left the eggs, so no one will accidentally harm them? I would think the other gardeners would be distraught if they sunk a spade into the spot because they didn’t know it was the maternity ward.

    You are right about nothing being normal this year. Everything in my California garden is about where things usually are closer to the middle of July. The part that isn’t good is we’re still stuck at home because we are old people. My spirit wants me out on the street, standing with the good people who are rising up for change, but I have to content myself with supporting the cause in other ways. The words you’ve written bring me joy, because I know how many will read them and nod their heads and say, “That’s how I feel, too.”

    Perhaps normal isn’t what we want. Maybe something better is in store for us.

  43. Emie says:

    You’ve said the most honest, profound thing I’ve heard in the past 3 months… “Things definitely aren’t normal this year”. Glad your garden is getting on it’s way… here’s hoping for a fabulous growing season!

  44. Chris Wilkey says:

    I agree, best post for a while. Am in England and woke up this morning to this post and thoroughly enjoyed it. You have a lovely sense of humour and a good way with words…..I look forward to your emails arriving in my inbox. I also enjoy reading the comments and the person with the bobcats, snakes and roadrunners made me realise what a diverse bunch of readers from different regions we all are reading your blogs. Thanks very much and keep it up please. Concur with all being treated equally. Take care. Chris

  45. Tina Lauer says:

    Thank you, Karen. Well said.

  46. Marilyn Meagher says:

    The more things change the more they stay the same

  47. Coral says:

    Love your articles and the daily chuckle you give me. I appreciate your closing comments. We all need to acknowledge the need for change and use whatever platform we have in order to say it out loud. Thank you for the thoughtfulness of your comments.

  48. Lynneo says:

    Just today, on a walk with my dogs, we ran across a painted turtle which had just laid eggs. I could see them in the hole. Not quite the same as seeing the birthing process, but this is the first time I’ve seen turtle eggs not on t.v. Amazing!

  49. TucsonPatty says:

    Karen, you never cease to amaze me with your insights into just about anything you come across! (Who knew toads/frogs got so badly constipated you could see right off, with just a glance, really.) to have a turtle lay eggs right in front of you – I am incredibly jealous. I’ve always wanted to see that down at some beach – Mexico or Florida.
    You will have so much harvesting – enjoy the wildlife as much as you can. We only have javelinas, bobcats, coyotes, roadrunners, hawks and owls. Well, those and an over abundance of pack rats, and not enough king snakes to take care of them and the rattlesnakes. Well, we do have an abundance – you just have to know what and when to look for it, and when to protect yourself from it! Can’t wait to see this years glass corn!

  50. Christine O. says:

    Your best post yet. ❤️

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