31 May 2009

Garden mentors

Good morning everyone! It's a cool sunny morning here. I've just finished tending the animals and chooks and before I start on two loads of washing, I'm here to partner the gardening mentors with their novices. I have two novices I have no mentors for so if you are an experienced gardener in zones 8 or 9 in the USA or zones 3 - 4 in Australia, I'd love you to join us. I have two people very keen to pick your gardener's brain. Jules in Alabama and Sorcha in South Australia, I'll contact you as soon as I have your mentors.

The partners are:

Donetta (Arizona) will mentor The Singlutionary (Texas)
Cat (zone 7) will mentor Jaz (zone 5b)
Rois will mentor Allison (both zone 8)
Brown Thumb Mama (zone 9) will mentor Haus Frau (zone 8)
Cindy (Florida) will mentor Suburban Mom (Maryland)
Debbi (Pacific North West) will mentor Myrnie (zone 8 wet and cool)
Tracy (Tamworth) will mentor Stitching Mum
Stewart (Toowoomba will mentor Sorcha (Flinders Ranges, SA)

Would all the people listed above please comment here and exchange their email addresses. If I don't see that connection made by tomorrow, I'll try to link you up.

I also have a few answers from that post. Julia, I wrote about fungus-prone plants. Did you see it?

Donna, I apply potash when we plant a flowering plant - like pumpkin, tomatoes, cucumbers. After the first fruit appear, I apply again for a second crop. Apply according to the instructions on the package.

ithinkican, we have no problem with cats even though we have feral cats living along the creek bed. We make sure we lock the chooks in every night. They put themselves to bed when darkness is falling, all we do is lock the door behind them. I think cats don't bother the chooks because we have a dog and they can smell it. There are foxes here too but we don't see them. A dog, even a pet dog, earns it's keep by leaving its scent around to scare off smaller predators.

Norma, yes, mince is hamburger.

Jody, I use boiling water to get rid of ants. I pour it directly into the entrance to their next, if I can find it. Generally you can if you follow the ants for a while.

Donetta, diatomaceous earth must be food grade. Here is an info sheet for DE.

And lastly, I wanted to write something more about the search for perfection in the garden. No matter how hard you try, no matter how hard you work, when dealing with a natural process, you'll very rarely reach what you call perfection. You will get close to it constantly, you'll see it lurking behind the beans, but getting it to hold still, even for a minute, is difficult.

I believe the better way is to accept failure as part of the process. It's very difficult to learn, particularly if you're teaching yourself, if you expect perfection every time. Failure must be part of the process, failure will teach you the best lessons. Even though I'm still learning, I am confident that I can garden well enough now to do almost everything I want to do. The reason I am at that level is that I failed many times along the way. I took notice of my failures and I worked to put things right. So those of you who expect perfection, relax, just enjoy being out in the fresh air with your hands in the soil and when you fail, see it as part of the learning. Because I promise you this, if you let failure in and don't walk away when things aren't perfect, if you recognise where you went wrong and solve the problem, you will be rewarded. Your reward may not be perfect but it will be close to it. Perfection is impossible without failure.



  1. hi all and hi cat. this should be fun!

  2. I just finished planting my garden yesterday and now I wait for sunshine. Right after I put in the last tomato plant a gusty wind started up and it got colder and later heard on the radio that there was risk of frost. Oh dear..checked the temperature before heading to bed and it still was +13C so was hopeful. And first thing I did this morning was check the plants and everything was fine!
    Gardening mentors..what a great idea!

  3. I can volunteer as a gardening mentor if you like.

  4. Hello Rhonda, I believe you have my email
    djonas at cox dot net
    The DE I have is organic food grade, thanks. My tutor instructed the addition into soil to control nematodes. The thought of the dusting the foliage is not to alluring to me. I love my pollinators too much. :)
    your thoughts?
    I have heard it used on chucks when mites are an issue ? I have not needed to be concerned but wondered what your thoughts were on that too.

  5. I am SO excited :) As a person who reads too much, I feel completely overwhelmed with all the information out there, and how to apply to my brand-new garden!

    Debbi, I'm at madebymyrnie(at)gmail(dot)com

  6. I also began a garden blog


    Feel free to come visit.
    Have a great day!

  7. Many thanks, Stewart. Sorcha is in the northern Flinders Ranges. Her original post is in the first vegetable garden post.

    Donetta, we do as you do. We don't sprinkle it around. We use it mainly for lice on the chooks and fleas on the animals.

  8. Hi, Jaz,

    E-mail is greyhoundgirl29 at yahoo dot com. Looking forward to getting to know you and hope I can be of help.

  9. Thanks for the reply regarding the tomatoes Rhonda.
    I planted the tomatoes in a new no dig garden which included lucerne and sheep manure. Maybe this was a bit too good for them?!! I gave them a little Organic Link and Potash when I planted.I'll be mindful of this next time and be a little less generous.Thanks for your help.


  10. Hi Rhonda. I must have missed the post for garden mentors. However I would love to participate if possible. I am a novice gardner who is very interested in learning about permaculture gardening - especially for veggies, not sure what to put with what etc. My garden zone is Sydney, Aus. Not sure what zone that is.

    hope there is still space

  11. 'Failure must be part of the process, failure will teach you the best lessons.'

    Wise words as usual Rhonda, and true of most things in life, including sewing, baking and even marriage & parenting. I could have save myself a lot of angst over the years if I had realised that when I was younger.

  12. Dear Rhonda

    Thank you so much for this message. I am by no means a perfectionst but do sometimes get caught up in the failure feeling when things go wrong in my veggie gardening.

    We lost all our squash to mildew last summer and now with winter have to buy again.

    We also lost all the new snowpea seedlings and spinach to cutworm as I never put collars on in time.

    But it really is one of those learning curves...anyway, thanks again!

  13. Hello. I meant to comment the other day. I would be glad to mentor someone in Zones 8a/8b or Zone 6a in the USA.

    I lived in 6a for a lot of years. Then we moved to South Carolina to Zone 8a/8b. We are borderline in SC.

    I have vegetable gardens and flower gardens. Every year it is trial and error on some new things, but we usually have a pretty good crop for whatever we plant.

    Michelle Waxler
    mwaxler at care2 dot com

  14. Rhonda, so true that gardening is a trial-and-error process. But success can be made more likely if people stick to 'easier' crops that do well in their climate.

    Being a Sydney-based gardener with permie tendencies, there may be someone here I can help.

    BTW, I am using Firefox and the comments are showing up as pale grey text with an olive green background. They are unreadable, I'm afraid. Perhaps one of your settings has gone feral?

  15. Thanks Chookie. I use Firefox too but it was showing up white in mine. I appreciate the heads up. Thanks for offering to partner Nicci. I'll ask her to post her email address so she can contact you.

  16. I'm happy to share what knowledge I have gained so far :-)
    cindy at journeytosimplicity dot com

    Regarding DE - I have started using it in my hen house (dusting their droppings area, and a bit in the run). I do this when they are out in the yard, as I don't really want them inhaling it. The DE definitely helps with flies and moisture. Because my girls are confined most of the time, I have to have something to control the pests :-)

    I've also put a small amount in their feed, which is supposed to help discourage flies when the it comes out with the droppings. We'll see! DE is actually quite nutritional - I've read of humans consuming small amounts as well.

  17. Hello-Cindy in Florida. My email is suburbanmom at verizondotnet Looking forward to hearing about your garden.

    Rhonda--thanks for matching me up! ;) I really enjoy reading your posts!

  18. Hi Haus Frau,

    Looking forward to hearing about your garden! I am in Sacramento, CA--where are you?


    brownthumbmama at yahoo dot com

  19. Hello all, especially Stitching Mum,I am looking forward to getting to know you and mentoring you. I'm sure we will learn alot from each other.
    sunnycorner2340 at yahoo dot com dot au

  20. Ooh, I have a mentor! I'm so pleased! Just this morning SJ (my partner) & I were discussing what to do next with the garden. We get little rain, it's scorching hot in summer, we're on water restrictions, and we suffer frosts in winter, but I am DETERMINED to get this gardening thing right. I hope I havent made this task too daunting for Stewart? :/ Email me at sorcha dot sidhe at gmail dot com.
    Thanks for including me!

  21. Hi Sorcha, Stewart here, Toowoomba and the Flinders ranges should be fairly similar plus I have a few blogger friends their that should be able to help if I get stuck with your area. How can I help?

  22. CAn you pair me up??? I am in Idaho falls Idaho? I love your blog!Thanks for everything! Keep it up!

  23. Thanks Rhonda!

    Myrnie, my email is:


  24. Hi Pam! I just sent you an email! Thanks for being my mentor, and Thanks, Rhonda, for setting this up!

  25. Thank you so much for organising this Rhonda, and hello Tracy!! I look forward to 'meeting' you soon and hopefully learning lots about how to get something to grow, lol!!!

  26. Well, I take a few days off because I'm putting in my first garden and working on a deck and look what I miss .... garden mentors. Can I still have one please??? I'm sorry I'm behind. I live in the US in West Virginia. I just had a meal of my fist spinach and I had beet tops from the thinning out of my beets. A first on both accounts!! Is it too late for a mentor?
    Becky WV USA

  27. (I am super late to the party)!

    I didn't realize that I had recieved a mentor! This is really really great news. My email is singlutionary@gmail.com and Donetta, I will email you right away and start reading your blog!

    Rhonda Jean, this is a wonderful thing you've done!


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