Front yard garden

okay dad, this one’s for you!

Last year, we bought a new house with a great yard (albeit minimal direct sunlight on any given patch), and I didn’t want to commit to an in-ground garden, so I tried a container garden. It was total crap. I got like four tomatoes, and the little urchin-furry-nuisance-rabies-carrying-public-health-disaster-rodent squirrel community got the rest. Which was still only three or four.

The problem was not enough sunlight. My tomatoes were all leggy and then they sagged under their own weight and the tomato stakes weren’t doing much to help, and all of my dreams of thrusting a giant four pound tomato up over my head in a paroxysm of triumphant glee went right down the compost pile.

The moral of the story is that tomatoes actually really do need about 6-8 hours of sunlight. They’re not joshing ya. If you only get four hours, you’ll get a tomato. It’ll just be sad, and not big, and it will be the ONLY ONE. It’ll be a massive waste of time and a lesson in extreme disappointment.

So. I fretted about this problem all winter long. The whole reason I wanted to put the garden in the backyard is because it’s sort of a little bit kind of trashy to put a vegetable garden in the front yard, and let’s face it, I don’t want to bend over in my front yard if I don’t have to. Nobody wants that. Nobody. At least, nobody whose not creepy. People put expensive fences up for a reason.

But the only place that gets 6-8 hours of sunlight is the very front part of my front yard. So. Option A – trashy front yard garden. Option B- Buy expensive organic produce from Whole Foods all summer long (drool). Both me and Evan are cheap, and really, who am I kidding, there was no contest. We’re doing it. Trashin’ it up. Heck yeah. Theres a reason we live in Durham and not Chapel Hill.

So. We’re making it bigger and better this year. 10 by 4. That’s forty square feet of raised bed delight. Here’s a picture of my little seeds starting in an old turkey roasting pan. Soon, they will transform into tasty nubbins that will go into my belly. yummy.




God sucks

I’ve been thinking a lot about religion lately. 

Mostly because God is objectively a really horrible person. I’ve got my Bible RIGHT here and I will be quoting from it throughout. (By bible I actually mean bible quotes on the internet, because it is hard to copy and paste from paper onto computer screen. and by hard i mean actually impossible). Most people approach god-is-not-real from a logical perspective. I’m approaching it from a moral perspective.

First I ask you to leave your sanctimonious perception of God at the door. Let’s just look at this book objectively. If it wasn’t God saying this, is this really something you want to read to your kids?

1. God thinks he created the universe in 7 days. Nigga pleez. That is worse than Al Gore saying he created the Internet. 




You know, when this happens these days, we take these people, call them psychos, and either put them in the mental hospital or they get a lethal injection. When this happened 5,000 years ago or whenever, we called them prophets and put them in the BIBLE as a testament to how you should love God more than anyone else.

But what kind of a God asks you to kill your own CHILD? YOUR ONLY CHILD? WHAT. 

3. 10: And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. 

27: A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.

Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. 
18: For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, 
19: Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, 
20: Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;

God is saying a few things here. One, kill all adulterers. Like, put them to death. By throwing a bunch of rocks at them until they die. in other words, kill them slowly and painfully and make the whole town participate. (WHAT! WHAT! WHO WROTE THIS?). Number two, kill wizards and witches; i.e., wizards and witches exist. Which leads us to the question, if God created the whole world, who created those wizards and witches, hrmmm? Also, God believes in wizards and witches? Seriously? Isn’t that just proof that some dumbass who DID believe in wizards and witches wrote this book? AND NUMBER THREE, MOST IMPORTANTLY, DWARFS AND HUNCHBACKS AND BLINDMEN AND FREAKS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO WORSHIP GOD. 

who the eff does God think he is? What, he’s too good for the freaks that HE SUPPOSEDLY CREATED? And if all of this stuff is legit, then why would I want to worship someone who is clearly a HORRIBLE PERSON? He is sexist and able-ist and quite violent, actually, remember when he killed Lot’s wife (turner her into a pillar of salt, actually) just because she looked back at a pile of destruction?


God is a mean bully. 

Also like 3/4 of the old testament is just about very specific instructions around sacrificing animals on altars, and specific instructions on like what direction to face and when to take the feathers off and how to sprinkle the blood so God doesn’t get all upset.

God is finicky and has OCD and is a little biatch. 

Oh, oh, and the ark! the ark! I forgot about the ark! HOW COULD I FORGET ABOUT THE ARK?

The ark is the present day equivalent of God nuking the ENTIRE WORLD except for one zoo and one zookeeper’s family. Yes. That is it. Because there was not a SINGLE PERSON LEFT IN THE ENTIRE WORLD who deserved to live except for this one zookeepers family. No babies, no children, no old people, nobody. No other priests, no beggars, no hermits living in the mountains, not the nice lady at the salon, not the busboy who always cleans up your shiz, nobody. They all deserved to die. 

I MEAN, WHAT. WHY ARE WE TEACHING THIS TO OUR CHILDREN? VIOLENCE AND MURDER AND AN ALL-OUT wipe-out of the entire human race was the only solution? seriously? are you effing kidding me? 

do you know who that sounds like to me? That sounds like the late Kim Jong Il. Yeah. That crazy dictator. I mean really, God, did everyone deserve to die? And IF THEY WERE ALL SO EVIL, was killing them really the only solution? Really? You’re God. Couldn’t you have sent a legion of angels to teach and change them?

No. Because God does not believe in psychology or science or education. 

And don’t say that thats because maybe psychology and science and education are all false idols of present day secularism, NO. IT’S BECAUSE GOD WAS WRONG, DON’T YOU SEE? take off your religious blinders. Consider, for a second, that you’re not going to Hell if you think these thoughts. What do you come up with?

Okay, so maybe God wasn’t wrong. Maybe it was the people who wrote the Bible that were wrong, maybe they misinterpreted a lot of God’s thoughts and actions. But then, what parts of the bible are trustworthy? 


If God said and did all that stuff in the Bible, the only logical conclusion I can come up with, is that God sucked. 



time to grow things!!

Mufasa once said something like, “Everything that the light touches is yours. Except that shadowy place. [Insert transition scene] When we die, our bodies become food for the grass, and the grass becomes food for the wildebeest, and the wildebeest become food for us. You see, Simba, we are all part of the Great Circle of Life [insert inspiring Elton John chorus].”

I’m not one hundred percent sure what that has to do with me putting seeds in jiffy pots, but it feels connected, somehow. We’re six weeks away from the last frost date in NC, and that means


time to start tomatoes from seed! woo hoo! I went on a crazy shopping spree over at Annie’s Heirloom Seeds, and added some packets to my collection. I picked up some black krim and some caspian pink tomatoes, and i decided to go for the sugar baby watermelon this year! HIGH FIVE, MOFO! I saw a picture on the internet of some watermelons in slings and I just got drool-y jealous, and I thought, why, there’s absolutely no reason I should be prevented from doing so, and so I added the $2 seed packet to my cart. I’ve also decided to grow some eggplant and some amish beans, because let’s face it, who doesn’t love the amish? (Except for power companies and advertising companies)


Anyway, usually my excitement comes all in a rush, and I couldn’t wait for my seeds to get here before I started some of my other pots. So i started without them.

Last year, I ran into the unfortunate problem of having not one freakin clue what was in my jiffy pots until they started bearing fruit, because I bypassed the part where you LABEL YOUR POTS, and instead opted for the Trusting The Ol’ Noggin Strategy. Needless to say, the Ol’ Noggin is more like a leaky cauldron than an airtight Nasa Rocket Ship, and I promptly forgot what was in the pots.

that simile sucked.

THIS TIME, though, I devised an ingenious strategy of making little flag labels out of toothpicks and clear tape. I was foiled, however, on my search for toothpicks. The kitchen, you see, is filled with cupcakes and brownies and chocolate chip cookies, and my search for toothpicks was quickly replaced by the need to choose between those three delicious goodies. Obviously I opted for chocolate chip cookie, and then I was forced to retreat from the kitchen, lest I gain twenty pounds in my attempt to create ingenious flag labels.

Instead, I opted for the push pin strategy, where each pot gets a push pin, and each color or colors of push pins corresponds to a particular plant.


And so, mix one part potting soil from the shed, one part jiffy pot from home depot, lots of parts water, and two parts Canon point and shoot, and you get the following:










Here’s a little secret: germinating seeds don’t need any light. So shut off your grow lamp until the little green seeds pop their heads up. And make sure your pots are wet. Seeds like water and dirt. 

What Conservatives are Actually Thinking

Poor Mittens. He’s had two goals his entire life – 1) be a good Mormon, and 2) Become President of the Greatest Country In The Entire Universe.


He’s excelled at being a Mormon. He’ll definitely get his own planet when he dies – maybe then he can be president. Last year he gave millions to the Church of Latter Day Saints (that means the Mormon Church, P.S.), has five blonde children (very important that they be blonde), he went to BYU, and he’s still married. To One Woman. There was a moment in his life when he considered having a harem in the traditional Mormon sense, but Goal #2 contradicted Goal #1 and so he settled for one wife at a time, unlike his rival Newt Gingrich, who is actually not Mormon but couldn’t resist taking a page out of the Mormon Playbook and got himself three wives, leaving one of them while she had cancer. Good Guy, that Newt.


As for goal #2, of being President of the Greatest Country in the Entire Universe, well,  Bhutan and Switzerland were unavailable and so he has settled for the United States instead. He used his Mormon crystal ball to foresee that in the year 2012, politics would just be a matter of money, and so he spent his entire life becoming one of the richest men in the United States so that he could buy ads to convince Americans that he was, indeed, the best man for the job. Now he’s struggling to win over conservative America but he reassures them that he will, indeed, get the nomination BECAUSE HE HAS MORE MONEY THAN ANYONE ELSE. Gee, Mittens, what a compelling argument.

<TIME PASSES> <Romney doesn’t hate on Obama enough>

And So. Conservatives have decided that they are searching for anyone who is NOT ROMNEY. No joke. This is what is shouted over the airwaves. “Will Santorum be the next Not Romney? Could Gingrich fill the Not Romney Slot?” seriously. Because do qualifications and intelligence matter to Americans? NO. NO THEY DO NOT. Do not, for one second, think that conservatives value logic, or leadership ability, or intelligence. No. They value RHETORIC and BIAS and Xenophobia. They value Muslim-hating, anti-gay, anti-abortion, hypocritical, small minded Christians. (Mormons don’t qualify).

Anyway. So now Conservatives across the nation are voting for Santorum or Gingrich, and Romney isn’t sweeping the nation like he said he’d do with his millions. Pundits are wondering if Romney isn’t conservative enough, if maybe those people don’t like him, if maybe the Republican party is splintering into a tiny million little pieces and Romney hasn’t got an unsupervised chocolate cake’s chance at fat camp.

But it’s not that. They’d prefer Santorum. But they will still vote for Romney if he is their nominee. They hate Obama so much that they would vote for anyone, ANYONE DAMMIT, who is not Obama.

They’re just shooting themselves in the foot right now by dragging out the primary and promoting infighting. Silly Conservatives.

el futuro

So I got into the PhD program in Epidemiology at UNC last week. For years I’ve wanted to do research, write papers, get credit for being smart and all that jazz. And UNC’s public health school is ranked #2 in the country, so there is that. The thing about PhD-ness is that it’s sooooooo competitive to get a professor position afterwards (not to mention nearly impossible to raise a family with two profs in the house). I’m not the most competitive person in the world- I think my mom beat it out of me because she’s so over-the-top about winning.

Typical conversation from childhood:

Mom (1st generation korean immigrant): You get good grades. You go Harvard.

Me: k. If I get good grades, can I have my own pac-man machine?

Mom: yes yes. Anything. Good grades. Harvard.


Typical conversation from highschool:

Mom: You grades not good enough. You only ranked second in class of 530 people! You be first! You number one! What is number two crap!

Me: <eye roll> whatever Mom

Dad: Second is good enough. Good job getting such great grades, Melissa

Mom to Dad: <death stare>

Dad: <defensive shrug, palms up to ward off mom’s possible physical attack> She’s ranked second out of 530 people!


And then, when I decided to apply early to Duke:

Me: Mom, I’m going to apply early to Duke

Mom: Okay but you still go Harvard

Me: Mom, i’m not applying to Harvard. (By this age I had already developed my firm sense of anti-establishment and anti- elitism. Nothin’ against Harvard — i’ve met some wonderful people who went there. But it was too…um, well-respected, for my taste. I knew I’d never fit in.)


And then she shot disappointment bullets directly at my heart. They’re still lodged in there. Right next to the disappointment bullets about not becoming a doctor, not being a multibillionaire by the age of 25, not being the world’s greatest pianist, not having 30 Catholic baby saints yet, etc, etc, etc.


And so. My mother of course thinks I should get a PhD. It’s one of her (many) life dreams. And when she found out UNC was ranked higher than Harvard she almost shat rainbows. My dad, meanwhile, thinks I should stay at home and focus on raising babies.

I, on the other hand (this whole thing IS about me, right?), want to stay at home and write fantasy stories, raise babies before my limited supply of eggs morph into unrecognizable sacks of mutant DNA Teratomas, and maybe get a job that requires max 50 hours a week. But it means walking away from my own dream, my own realistic dream. And I have to wonder if the only reason I don’t want to go is because my mom so desperately wants me to.



Jesus exploded in my mouth the other day.

I have unfortunately come to realize in the past couple of days that I am no better than Mark Zuckerberg.

I, too, eat my best friends for breakfast.

I never meant to make my tomatoes my best friends. “Firm separation between garden life and love life,” I said. “Nothing good ever comes out of mixing personal and garden relationships.” Little did I know how this mantra would get blasted out of the water as soon as I caught my first glimpse of greenery poking out of the dirt.

In the beginning, all I wanted was a strong, healthy garden. The Garden Guru says to talk to your plants. So I talked to my plants. First I started with the radishes, then later I moved on to my tomato plants. Remember these guys?

Unfortunately, what often starts out as innocent conversation, eventually turns into maybe getting a beer together after work, and then eventually it becomes late night chats, and then all of a sudden you’re fantasizing about whether or not Cherry the cherry tomato plant would be a good spooner, or if Sherry the Beefsteak tomato plant might provide a little more cushion.  And then finally…you start baring the deepest, darkest parts of your soul.

Here’s how it happened for me: As soon as I saw that healthy little green sucker come shooting out of the dirt, all of the firm barriers I’d thrown up between garden/personal life immediately came melting down. I spent hours sitting in front of my tomato plants. At first we just idly chatted. Harry was jealous of Sherry’s top leaves. Sherry was jealous that Cherry got to sit closest to the window. Cherry thought I spent too much time chit chattering with Harry. But as we ran out of trivial things to discuss, I began digging into deeper fears. I wondered aloud about whether or not i was really getting osteoporosis at the tender age of 26. I asked them if they really and truly thought that they’d help me get blog-famous (they said yes! stupid sycophants). They confirmed that yes, that shirt really did make my boobs look too big but no, I really shouldn’t get a breast reduction. (Harry helpfully added that all of my jeans made my butt look too flat, and I huffily replied that those weren’t my jeans, it was just my butt, and then we endured the first awkward silence of our hitherto  honeymoon relationship).

Why, you may ask, Why did Evan not put a stop to this madness? Surely he must have known of the deep and abiding emotional attachment you were forming with these mere plants? These…these…these homewrecking, tomato producing, invaders!

Evan knew nothing. I put my cell phone on silent and held it up to my ear, pretending to talk to my mom, or to Clare, or to Elena, but really just talking to my tomato plants. It was quite deceptive. <avoided forced trip to mental hospital><pats self on back>

Eventually my besties started growing. Then, they grew big enough for their very first perma-week of sunlight!

Now, if i wanted to talk to them, I had to walk the ten yards out to the yard. Despite this significant obstacle, I went outside every day. Cherry, Sherry, and Harry would pop their little leaf-heads up at my approach, struggling to look a little taller and fluff their leaves out a bit. Sometimes, I’d go out with a measuring stick and I’d mark their names down on the ruler, with their age and date. Soon, they were all competing with each other for my attention. I organized photo-synthesizing contests, water drinking contests, anti-leaf mold contests. Harry Cherry and Sherry all struggled to do so well. My love for them grew in leaps and bounds. I even bought a best-friend heart necklace, broken into several different pieces, and each of them wears a piece of my heart around their leaf-neck.

We were in love.

The thought that someday I’d have to eat their babies crossed my mind every once in a while, but I just pushed that thought to the back of my mind. “They’re young,” I thought. “The day they bear fruit won’t happen for a while. I can enjoy their childhood and love them while it lasts.”

Oh, how terribly, terribly wrong I was.

It happened two days ago.

I came home from work. I popped out of my car, and Harry Cherry and Sherry all immediately started waggling their leaves at me, eager for me to come over and show me the cool new things that they’d done. At first, I just oohed and aahhed.

Those big green tomatoes were far too ripe for me to do anything about them. But then Sherry mentioned an itch she was having in one of her branch crotches, and as I leaned over to get to that hard-to-reach spot, a flash of red caught my eye and I glanced upwards.

Stars fell from the sky. Victory music blasted from the radio of a car driving by. A starving orphan in Africa was adopted by Angelina Jolie. They cured cancer. Rupert Murdoch was never born.

My tomatoes were edible.

All thoughts of how Cherry Sherry and Harry felt about my eating their babies fled from my mind. Shakily, and without permission, I reached out one hand and plucked that ripe little sucker right off of the vine and crunched down with my omnivorous molars, releasing the magic of sun, dirt, water, seeds and time into my body. Such joy, such a taste of Heaven, has never been experienced.

Jesus himself exploded in my mouth.

But wait…isn’t that the only time that cannibalism is acceptable? Is when you eat Jesus? That’s what I was brainwashed taught every Wednesday at CCD classes growing up, and thats what I’m reminded of every time I go home to visit my parents and am subjected to Catholic Radio Theology blasting through the house beginning at the ungodly hour of 7 am. On Saturdays. And Sundays.

Therefore, since Harry Cherry and Sherry were giving birth to little baby Jesuses, then it was totally okay to eat them! IN FACT. Every time I eat a little baby Jesus, I am forgiven all of my sins. Especially when I follow this up with the washing of someone else’s foot. Feet. whatever.


with my plants!

my poor abandoned little blog

Due to popular demand, I’ve decided to make a little comeback.

I know what you’re thinking.

Popular demand? Other people read this blog? <confusion>

OKAY, OKAY, OKAY. So there hasn’t been any “popular demand”…a couple people have wondered aloud at it’s death, but the internet remains largely unfazed by MmmmTasty’s nationwide exit. So, the truth behind why I brought the blog back?…..I took some cool pictures and wanted to post them somewhere.


this is what my blog has been doing:

This happened about a month ago:

Evan made rain barrels like a boss


And then all my radishes grew up into real plants

And I harvested some and ate some, and they were delicious

So they weren’t actually that delicious by themselves — they were a little spicier than anticipated. But the spice and the crunch go really well in a mango/tomato/radish salsa, and so I made some cod cakes with the salsa and spinach, and THOSE were delicious

Then, Evan took a picture of Napoleon loving me:

and we ran in this terrible race:

and then my plants grew up:

here we have artichokes, tomato, and basil, all at around 10 weeks old.


The Week in Pictures: a smattering of topics

Chapter 1: Compost Rescue

So I’m at Bull City Burger and Brewery (really, really delicious burgers, ps), and i’m sitting outside, enjoying the warm sunshine and a delicious wheat beer, when a nice looking young man wearing an apron walks by. He has a clear plastic bag, and it’s filled with lemon rinds. All lemon rinds. And so i’m thinking, oh, cool, BCBB must have a compost pile, and they save the lemon rinds!

WRONG. He took all those lemon rinds to the DUMPSTER! I was horrified. Twenty pounds of rich, organic, compost-spectacular material, going to a LANDFILL? I stopped him on his way back.

Me: Hey  –

Humphrey: Yes?

Me: Uh, did you just throw all those lemon rinds into the dumpster?

Humphrey: Yes. They’re all the leftovers after they make the fresh-squeezed lemonade every day.

Me: You don’t have a compost pile?

Humphrey: No

Me: <stares incredulously. what kind of a new hip restaurant in Durham doesn’t have a compost pile???> (to be fair, i dont think any new hip restaurants in Durham have compost piles, but it never occurred to me that they might be throwing all of that amazing vegetable matter away)

Humphrey: Do you want it for your compost pile? I can go get it. It’s just sitting on the top of the dumpster. <all non judgmental-like, as though its tots normal for people to ask him to go dumpster diving for inedible food>

Me: <eyes widen in shock, both at his offer and at his totally non-judgmental demeanor> Why, yes, Yes, I would.

Humphrey:  <trots off to get the bag from the dumpster, double bags it in another plastic bag for me, then brings it back to me.

Me: Wow, AMAZING, THANK YOU SO MUCH. <hopping up and down in excitement. Jeremy stares at me like i’m a little crazy. I go to pick up the bag. It’s too heavy. i despair. I can’t carry that back to my car – i don’t have any muscles! Jeremy offers to carry it back for me. SWEET. I knew he’d come in handy one day.>

Humphrey: They fill up at least three bags a day. You can come back and get more anytime you want.


P.S. Someone should really be collecting all of that compost from the restaurants and using it to fortify our gardens instead of adding to the trash problem.

Chapter 2: Caught red-handed

Remember how in this post, I accused my neighbor of murdering my weeds with some inorganic home depot-environmental-killing trickery? Well, ladies and gents, I have caught her in the act. This photo was taken from my living room window. I noticed her out of the corner of my eye while I was gazing lovingly upon my new set of jiffy pots filled with dirt.

see! she has a little bucket of cancer RIGHT THERE! to her left! see it?

I can’t believe it. I mean, I know I sounded pretty confident in my previous post that she was the one responsible for the scorched earth, and I WAS, but it’s a very strange feeling to actually see your neighbor intruding upon your yard to pre-emptively murder your weeds. With a bucket and a spray nozzle, no less. I feel very agitated right now. And sweaty.


Chapter 3:

My tomato seedlings have almost all popped up. They’re beautiful. See here:

the trick is to keep them moist and warm, and talk to them every day as though they’re real people. Both the emotional connection and the carbon dioxide are good for the plants (no joke. This is science — Bradly in my 4th grade homeroom got third place in the School-Wide Science Fair with this little experiment.)

Chapter 4

I found a package of tempeh buried in the back of my freezer, so I unthawed it and asked Evan to bring home some red cabbage.

HOW TO MAKE TEMPEH SLOPPY JOES with red cabbage coleslaw: (ingreds: tempeh, onions, oil, brown sugar, tomato paste, salt, pepper, vinegar)

Tempeh is really very easy to make. Just crumble it (which i did by putting the package in a bowl and smushing it with a wooden spoon), then oil your pan, heat your pan, and add the tempeh. Stir it around — it smells soooo good; it has a nutty, meaty aroma, even though its just soy. Add in some chopped onions or peppers, or both. While you’re browning the tempeh, make your sauce by combining a can of tomato paste, add some heaping tablespoons of brown sugar, grind your salt into the mixture until your hand gets tired, and add a few dollops of red wine vinegar. Vigorously mix into a paste, and then dump into your pan with the tempeh. Mix it all around — it gets pretty block-ish, so add a glass of water, and then leave it to simmer. Meanwhile, chop up a quarter of a head of red cabbage, add a couple tablespoons of mayonnaise, some more red wine vinegar, grind salt in until your hands gets tired, then call your husband for help so he can grind some more salt in, then grind in some pepper, and stir vigorously.

VOILA. YOU’RE DONE. Easiest meal of the week. And its SO DELICIOUS … you can’t eat just one. In fact I went back to the store and bought another package of tempeh in the hopes of eating it again this week.

Deeeeeelicious. Red cabbage cole slaw with tempeh sloppy joes

red cabbage cole slaw

Chapter 5: What to do with leftover cabbage?

Answer: Make more coleslaw (this time only vinegar, no mayo), and add to breakfast tacos. Delicious.

Chapter 6: Some Handy Gardening Tips

1. Your soil should be 1/4 air, 1/4 water, and only 5-10% organic matter. This sounds crazy, but apparently you shouldn’t make a garden out of compost, or even 25% compost. 5-10%. This from my homies over at the manic gardener.

2. If starting tomato seedlings inside, you should keep your grow lamp only a couple of inches above their little tomato seedling heads. The farther they have to reach to get the light, the leggier they get – and the less likely they are to produce fruit. remember, stocky, wide tomato seedlings is the goal.

Chapter 7: My little radish babies are growing so fast, and they have such different personalities!

This ones all, "YAY SUNSHINE AND AIR!!"

This ones all, "Mmm-hmm, I know Im sexy, what? "


RADISH MURDERER and tomato seedling update

You know how sometimes, when you’re pregnant with twins but you don’t know it yet, and so you only eat enough food to sustain one extra person, but then your twins get hungry, and then one of them decides to eat the other one (which you can read about here), and then all thats left of twin number two is a foot sticking out of the victorious twins’ neck when it emerges from your womb?

Well, when it happens in humans, its somewhat horrifying, because now you have one half of a set of TWINS (which are already freaky to begin with) AND your kid has already proven himself to be a cannibal, and so NO WAY are you going to let that thing near your nipple to feed, but then all the nurses and your hippy friends look at you all-askance cause not giving your kid breast milk basically disables them for life (not to mention your kid has his twin brother’s foot sticking out of his neck). WELL.

This is what happens in Humans

I figured i could do the same thing to the radishes. When I dropped two, three seeds in a hole, I figured one of them would eat the other and then I’d have double radishes for one single plant. See, in radishes, this would have been brilliant. I could have taken out Monsanto with this strategy.

WARNING, WARNING, WARNING — THIS IS NOT HOW IT WORKS. Maybe the soil is just too rich of an environment, because they all came up and I had to remove the extra ones.

this is what happens in radishes

pile of aborted radish seedlings - you can see the little pink radish fetuses. DELICIOUS.

Amazingly, it seems the ones that are left are growing at a faster rate than before, which leads me to believe I made the right decision.

Moral of the story – one seed per hole. Otherwise you have to burn extra calories when you remove the extras, and we all know that burning calories is an unjustifiable waste of food-energy.


Moving on from tales of my vegetarian capital crimes, let me just tell you about how much I didn’t learn in fourth grade. Remember how I gave a lesson in growing tomato seedlings a couple of days ago? It mostly involved telling Annie of Annie’s Heirloom Tomatoes to go screw herself, and then compared the advantages of seedling purchases to the advantages of surrogate pregnancies. Which is totally the hip way of having children these days. This way, when you tell someone you have kids, and they say, “Oh God, did you like, have that with your body?” you can hip-pily reply, “of course not!”

Yeah, so, well, I didn’t do all of the research required on how to grow tomato seedlings, because I was too broken-hearted over the Annie Incident. Every day, I’ve been waking up, switching my grow light to the “On” position, watering my little jiffy pots, and then leaving them there to germinate. EXCEPT. Did you know what the point of leaves are?

Chorus: No, ma, what’re leaves for?

Leaves are to soak up sunlight.

Therefore, if there are no leaves, there is no way of soaking up sunlight. Derrrrrr. Face palm. In other words, I’ve just been wasting energy and light for no purpose. None. You’re supposed to wait to turn the grow light on until after germination, when there are leaves. I am an environment killer. *shudder*

PS: Tomatoes germinate best when they are kept at 70 degrees and are kept moist. In fact, why don’t you just go here, as they know what they’re talking about, and I don’t. 🙂


One of the dirty little secrets of gardening is that you have to actually exert energy. As in, you have to put that egg, ham, and cheese bagel’wich to work doing something harder than sustaining your body while you queue up the next season of 30 rock on your Nintendo Wii (most awesome non-Kitchen related wedding present), while your husband glares at you as he folds the laundry after a long hard day at work, during which time you stayed at home figuring out how to fill the mandatory time-outs in between episodes of Being Human on Megavideo.

It’s totally not fair. As I taught four-year-olds at the horrendously overpriced and hippy-dippy alternative-learning environment at the Duke School for Children three years ago, all it takes to grow a plant is air, water, dirt, and sunshine. Nobody ever said anything about ELBOW GREASE.

Ah, elbow grease. The first time I heard the term in the context of organic and healthy cleaning, (I believe the context was, “a little Grapefruit, salt, and Elbow Grease will do the trick quite nicely!”)  I went to the grocery store cleaning aisle and wandered up and down, searching for J&J’s Elbow Grease version 2.0, in a bright white bottle with pictures of suds on it. Nothin’ doin. Discouraged, i returned home to watch Kim and Abby on British Cleaning Crazies (thats not the name of the show, i don’t remember the exact title, but its about two old chubby British ladies who clean nasty people’s houses at the risk of mold exposure), and they mentioned Elbow Grease again!! Frantic, i paused the youtube video, scanning the background for pictures of the mysterious product, wondering if perhaps Elbow Grease was just a British Thing. I cursed the FDA under my breath; damn stringent American standards, i need some of that magic powder!

Later that season, after many mentions of Elbow Grease, it dawned on me that elbow grease is not a product. No. It is a euphemism for “scrub hard with your hand, powered by your elbow.” That is correct. As my dearest dear husband would say, “Sometimes, I can’t believe you’re as smart as you’re supposed to be.”

All right so. Evan decided to plant some grass in the yard. I told him i’d help him outside, thinking i could watch my radishes grow, sans elbow grease, while Evan did manly stuff. Around 3 pm on Saturday, I ventured outside to “help,” and took a seat on the edge of my above ground garden bed, wondering if I should thin out my radish seedlings, but regretting that the farthest radish seedlings would require me to really reach my arms three feet out into the middle of the bed.

Meanwhile, Evan was tilling up the top 1/2 inch of the yard in preparation for planting grass seed. He was sweating, and his shirt was soaked, and his muscles were all big, etc, etc. The view was quite enjoyable, until…

Evan starts speaking.”Hey. You want a job? I can give you a job.”

I look around, back behind me to the left, back behind me to the right. There’s nobody there. “Sorry. Are you talking to me?”

“Yes.” Evan grunts.

“Uh, sure, what are my options?” I start to feel a little panicky. Surely he’s not going to actually ask me to, like, burn calories. I work hard to eat just enough to keep my body in perfect condition for queuing up netflix videos; any extra calorie burning and I’m toast.

“Well, you can do what I’m doing,” at this point I transition from panicky to horrified – Evan is SWEATING and it’s 50 degrees outside, “Or, you can start raking the leaves out from around the house and drag them over to the leaf pile there.”

Uh. That doesn’t sound good. “What are my other options?”

“There are no other options.”

WHAT? I should have stayed inside.

Evan stops what he’s doing and stares at me, knowing exactly what I am thinking. “Look. I think you don’t actually want to do any work. I think you just like taking pictures and writing about other people doing work.”

This is so true.  “THATS SO NOT TRUE!” To prove my point, even though Evan knows that what he has said is true, and that what I have just said is not true, I jump up from my post, grab the gloves and the rake, and proceed to rake the leaves out from around the house and pile them up in the pile. I glance back at Evan. He has turned his head and is smiling, knowing that I know that he knows that I was lying, but not caring because it got me off my bum.

Defeated, I rake the leaves up, mumble something about going inside to get water, and don’t come out again.

[and i know, this post was about yard work, not about gardening, but during the course of outside-time I did shovel some dirt off the dirt pile and into some pots. I am pretty sure I sustained massive back injuries, but DON’T WORRY. I don’t have health insurance, but I do have the ability to ignore massive injuries while they heal themselves into hunchback form]

Evan provides an example of how to rake leaves onto tarp, then pull tarp over to leaf pile on other side of yard