Monday, July 4, 2011


Hi. My name is Pat Lentz. I once told my son that I can’t change the world, but I can make my little corner of the world a more attractive place, What that boils down to is some pretty intense gardening in the three acres around our very old farm house.,
More years ago than I want to count, I read a magazine article about some Master Gardener’s wonderful vegetable garden. I recall wondering what sort of hoops one had to jump through to become a Master Gardener. The only other thing about that article that stuck in my mind was the author’s claim that you could tell the garden’s keeper was a Master Gardener because the rows were perfectly straight. Even then, my reaction was an inelegant"huh?"
I discovered the "hoops" a few years ago, took the class through the Michigan State Extension Office and put in the required community service hours. So now, as a Master Gardener, I know everything about gardening. Yeah, right. But the classes I’ve taken, the projects I’ve been involved in, and association with other gardeners have opened my eyes to so many gardening possibilities that I’m really excited–and a little overwhelmed,.
And even more contemptuous of that writer’s contention that "perfectly straight" is worth so much praise. Non-traditional gardens rock!
Okay, so I admit that for decades I’ve been a basic, traditional vegetable gardener. Now I’m learning about native plants, fruit guilds, edible landscaping, permaculture, herbs, perennial vegetables, and so much more. But the one thing I definitely can’t get excited about is lawns.
I think of lawns as a convention that crossed the Atlantic with our European forefathers, a conspicuous show of wealth that remains time-consuming and costly in its care. Even before I became a Master Gardener, I was looking for ways to eliminate some of the extensive lawn on this property we inherited. Unfortunately, at the same time, I was cleaning up the yard around the house and creating more lawn.
Our son’s visit this past March was a turning point for me. His visit coincided with my efforts to get my husband to drastically prune back our out-of-control apple trees. His enthusiasm regarding permaculture and fruit guilds inspired us to hack those darn trees way back. Now comes the job of filling in under them with appropriate plants. Then I had a vision of the backyard trees ringed with perennial herbs and flowers, with lawn limited to walkways. I’ve started an evergreen garden in front that I want "mulched" with wild strawberries. My daughter has been advocating for a moon garden. At least the waterfall feature eliminates the need to mow one corner of the yard!
So many opportunities! What fun!
The photo accompanying this first blog is of our backyard, what I’ve been calling the Three-Tree garden, or the Children’s Garden. This will be the subject of my next entry.
I have this tendency to jump right into a project, then regret later that I have no record of what an area looked like before I dug in. I’m embarking on this blog venture in hopes to remedy that. In order to share what I’m attempting with others, maybe I’ll actually take those photos I should have to record progress. Many of the projects I’m planning will be learning experiences for me. I expect to make mistakes; that’s part of the process. I ’m also hoping to connect with others with a interest in turning underused property into productive land. I also know that I’ll digress upon occasion, perhaps sharing the construction of a concrete guard dragon in the moon garden or recipes for some home-grown produce.
I hope you’ll join me.

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