Finished After Water-Proofing Garden Rock

Painted Rock by Maria L. Berg 2023

dVerse Poets Pub

Today is Open Link Night at the pub, so I get to write about anything I want. There are already lots of little green starts coming up from the seeds I planted, and I painted the big rock I dug up from my garden.

When Mixing, It’s Important to Know There Are Warm Shades And Cool Shades to Your Colors

I made sure she came out and saw it:
I don’t know why I needed her to see it

She instantly said, “It’s like one of your images. You made it look like your photographs.”
I couldn’t believe it, with all its imperfections, she saw it, just as it was.

The rock, the huge-to-me rock that I dug up out of the garden plot I’ve been working for so many years; it was so big I knew I had to paint it, to turn it into a marker, a greeter, a part of the garden.

When I asked him if I could use the plot, the square of overgrowth where my grandfather had planted potatoes, he said, “Go ahead, but the soils bad.”  After I’ve tried all sorts of different seeds and plants and worked and worked that soil for a decade, when I showed him this year’s planted garden, he said, “We’ll see. That soil’s bad.”

How can the soil that fed me those incredible baby acorn squash —that I didn’t even plant when the car wasn’t running and I needed food—be bad?

I was so surprised when I dug up that rock after digging in this same square of earth so long. But then, that’s what roots do: they reach down, and around those rocks, and while they reach,
they grow and forget about those rocks
as their reaching and growing pushes rocks to the surface. 

It was hard to decide what to paint. I wanted to create something that would invite me into my garden to work, to weed and to tend, to pay attention. I wanted something that I would want to visit. That’s hard to paint for oneself. It had to have something right and wrong with it, change with the light.

And she was right, I tried to recreate overlapping colored lights with paint, to turn the curled metal of my small mirror into a vine. And she saw it. And she saw me without a word, she just knew it was me,
inviting me to my garden.

A Garden Once Begun

My Freshly Finished Garden by Maria L. Berg 2023

dVerse Poets Pub

Today’s Form For All prompt is to write a Quatern

A Garden Once Begun

Today, I finished my garden
Over four days I toiled in soil
The hoe broke through thick roots and rocks
As if last year’s work never was

And I dug up such a large rock
Today; I finished my garden
In the same plot I’ve worked for years
I will paint it as a path stone

To greet me when I come to weed
My even horizontal rows
I finished planting. My garden
Will be the best this year because

I worked harder, and dug deeper
Seems I exclaim that every year
I will reap what I sow soon, but
Today, I finished my garden

Reaping A Bountiful Harvest

summer squash, pole beans, kale, Swiss chard and a lemon cucumber nicely displayed on a wood countertop

The harvest: Summer squash, lemon cucumber, pole beans, Swiss chard & 4 kinds of kale

I find no meal more satisfying than the one picked fresh from my garden. This year’s harvest is turning out to be very exciting. This year is the year of vine vegetables and many kinds of kale. Yum. The beauties pictured above were used for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

For breakfast this morning I had a piece of grain and seed toast with a little yogurt ranch Three slices of lemon cucumber showing the pretty star-shaped centers and seedsdressing, white cheddar cheese and slices of lemon cucumber. The first bite was surprising. The sweetness of the cucumber drew out the salt in the bread to an acute surprise.

For lunch, the summer squash served as noodles after going through the spiral slicer . The raw squash had less taste than I expected, but was full of flavor once topped with an olive oil sauce of onions, garlic, Roma tomatoes (from my friend’s garden), and fresh rosemary and thyme (growing in pots on the porch).

Harvest DinnerDinner was wonderful. We put brown and wild rice in the rice cooker and food steamer and steamed the beans and some cauliflower. Then when those veggies were done, we steamed the greens and some mushrooms. I topped the whole thing with my favorite spicy peanut sauce. I used the Gado Gado recipe from The New Moosewood Cookbook .

This wonderful harvest after years of being mostly thwarted is a great metaphor for the writing life. It takes persistence and constantly trying new and creative things.

I keep planting every year, no matter how the last harvest turns out. Every year I try something new. I try new vegetables. I change where and when I plant. I’ve planted horizontally, vertically and in arcs. This year I added planting up with poles and twine. This year, I’m also going to try a fall/winter garden, replanting as soon as I finish the harvest.

In my writing life, I make another Gator McBumpypants picture book, another NaNoWriMo novel, another short story, another poem, no matter how the last one was received. I read, I enjoy online courses and I learn and practice the craft every day. I don’t approach the page the same way, but try new skills and ideas all the time.

At the beginning of the week, I organized all of my writing projects for this fall and found an amazing word harvest. I found a lot more words on the page than I expected. I have so many wonderful projects to work on, it’s hard to choose; in a good way.

Today is about celebrating the harvest. It’s about time and patience. If we keep at it, one day we may be happily surprised with enough to eat.

Happy Reading and Writing!


The Harvest

I admit I gave up on my daily garden photo project before it was finished, but as you can see from my video above, I did not give up easily. It was a tough summer for my little garden. As usual, I started with very high hopes, but then summer started in March and wasn’t pretending. The daily mist dried up and disappeared and the Seattle rain so highly promoted in TV and film spent all its time on the east coast. But, luckily, I do not, at this time, have to live off of my harvest and can celebrate every little bite.

The one cucumber, that stopped developing about half-grown, was juicy and had an extra flavor that I do not know how to describe–a deeper note for the back of the tongue.

The one green bean (flowers on tendrils leave me hope for more), split in half to share, balances perfectly with the flavors of the one lunch of sauteed rainbow chard (makes me look good no matter the weather) with hazelnuts and Parmesan, but screams out with every crisp bite, “I am more flavorful than anything around me.”

Two kinds of kale (I tried blue dinosaur this year), became my favorite kale chips. My adaptation of Pesto Kale Chips from The Everything Raw Food Recipe Book by Mike Snyder with Nancy Faass has  changed kale for my family and friends. As a vegetarian in a family of carnivores, I was teased and taunted, until they tasted these kale chips. I have tried every other kale chip recipe that I have encountered, but this is the best.  As a Harvest gift to all here are my secret changes:

Maria’s take on Pesto Kale Chips:

For four cups of happy, straight out of your garden, kale (I cut out the largest stems in little V cuts, my kale leaves were small so for most of them, I did not need to cut out the central vein):

Ingredients: 1/2 cup pine nuts

1/8 cup lemon juice (one small lemon)

1/8 cup olive oil

1/8 cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or Nama Shoyu)

1/2 Tbs. Onion powder

1/8 cup fresh basil (finely chopped) pulsed in last

Place all ingredients in blender (except basil) and chop, then mince, then liquefy. It will take a while to get the pine nuts to really liquefy. I recommend stopping to take a spatula to the sides and top of your blender a couple of times. When you are happy with your mixture, add your basil and pulse it in a few times.

Put your kale in a medium sized bowl and pour the blend over the kale. Gently massage the mix onto the kale by hand making sure to equally coat both sides of all pieces. At this stage the kale is likely to break into smaller pieces. That’s why I try to start with full pieces of kale with only the largest bits of stem cut out.

I like to make my kale chips in my dehydrator. This recipe fills 4 shelves. Gently lay the pieces of kale out flat on your trays. Dehydrate and 115 degrees Fahrenheit for five hours to get delicious, crisp chips.

[If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can put the coated kale on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake in your oven. (Leda Meredith at says 325 for 12-15 min). I have no idea about those results.]

Try this recipe on that special someone who won’t eat their greens. You’re Welcome.