Bonus – Mint Growing Guide

“It is the destiny of mint to be crushed” – Waverly Root

When I started my garden I had no intention on growing herbs. I had nothing against them I was just so new to gardening I didn’t want to chance messing it up. My father in law changed all that.

My father in law told me that he liked having a cup of mint tea everyday. He said he was not having it as often because mint was expensive. He then asked me if I could grow it?

“Of course” was my answer. You will soon learn this is how I started growing almost everything. It makes my father in law happy thus making me happy. Unicorn Crossing is referred to by my father in law as “our garden”. That always makes me smile. Moving on…

So in my normal fashion I set out to learn how to grow mint and this is what I learned.

1. Buy a mint plant. Mint can be grown from seed but why bother. A plant cost about $3 and it will last years. Not only do you get instant mint but it spreads like crazy so you will always have fresh mint.

2. Try new flavors. I didn’t realize how many different types of mint there were and they all taste great. In my garden I grow spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, mojito mint, and pineapple mint.

2. Put mint in a container. As I stated mint grows like crazy and takes over everything. If you put this in your garden you will grow nothing but mint. I’m sure that is not your goal. Simply fill your container halfway with soil, drop your plant in, and cover with soil. I would select at least a one gallon pot or larger. It depends on how much mint you would like.

3. Prune mint often. Cut longer shoots leaving about two inches from the stem. Don’t worry, it will grow back with a vengeance.

4. At the end of the season cut your mint plant back to one inch. Cover the plant with mulch or soil. The plant will survive the winter. I put all my plants in my garage over the winter.

5. Do not fertilize or even care for mint. This is one of those plants that actually like being neglected. Just makes sure it gets water if it’s looking a little sad. If it dries out don’t worry. Add water and it will bounce back.

Note – you can do this with the following herbs: rosemary, thyme, sage, chives, oregano, parsley, basil, lavender, coriander, lemon balm, tarragon, catnip, dill, fennel, sorrel, chervil, bay, German chamomile, winter savory, and meadowsweet.

So put all these herbs in pots. Store them in your garage and they will provide you with herbs year after year with one sowing.

Before pruning m. I just let it over winter.
After I cut back on the madness. Look at that growth. FYI- next year I will have to either go up a pot size or split up the plant. Notice all the stems. I probably should do it this year but I’m being lazy.

Month 3 Wk4 Yr2 – Black People Don’t Get Depressed

“I do have anxiety, and it is part of my experience” – Lizzo

I remember when I was younger I use to hear my grandmother and aunts talk about nerve pills. They talked about them as casually as you talk about Tylenol. No one even batted and eye. What I learned by these actions was taking nerve pills was ok because everyone did it. They did it because people got on their nerves.

When I got older and started to suffer from what I now know is depression and anxiety I mentioned this to a few members of my family. I was trying to be perfect at everything. I would get extremely sad for no reason, or I would sleep for two days. What my family told me was that “I was working myself too hard”, or “I would get through this”. Not once did anyone even utter the words depression or anxiety, so I kept waiting to get through whatever “this” was. They also did not mention these famous nerve pills which I wish they had because they were getting on my nerves.

In college it got worse when my mood would swing suddenly. I was always sad. Everyone around me kept saying they were normal but I just felt off. I saw my first counselor in college and was diagnosed with depression.

When I went home to tell my family I was quickly told “Black people dont get depressed”.

If I wasn’t a mess before I was certainly a mess now. It was a white lady who told me I was depressed so maybe she was wrong. I was struggling with identity issues in high school and college so again maybe they were wrong. My first real boyfriend told me I was a “white girl trapped in a black girls body” so maybe I was displaying this white girl disease. I had no idea what to believe, so I ignored it.

Guess what happened? It got worse and a few years later I eventually broke. It’s been 17 years since the break and while each day gets easier it does come with its challenges.

Let me tell you some of the things I’ve learned and hopefully they help some of you, while continuing to help me.

I had to learn that problems are going to happen daily. I just have to learn to deal with them. That was the easy part. My problem is, in my mind I’m trying to solve a million problems at the same time. My mind eventually gets pissed and shuts down then decides to take my body with it. The solution is recognizing what’s happening and slowing down.

I also learned that no one person is responsible for my issues nor can they solve my issues. YOU DO NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE. Stop trying to fix stuff yourself. Obviously your brain can’t fix this issue so let someone help you. Only you can finally solve your issues, but there are people who can help you along the way.

The last thing I learned was that Black people DO get depressed. Depression has no color. Depression doesn’t care about who you think you are, or how strong you believe you are. Depression basically says “Fuck your feelings”. Depression is that beast that just doesn’t go away and likes to rear its ugly head from time to time.

I’ve yet to meet a person who has beat depression. What we like to say is “My story is not over;” That is the most important thing.

Let me be clear. We are all placed here for a reason. You may not know that reason, but there is a reason. It is not your place to remove yourself from this world and rob someone of your joy. I’ve gone on to be the mother of two wonderful children. I have a husband who loves me. I have lifelong friends and I have coworkers who are amazing. Guess what? They all get on my nerves and that’s ok.

If you are Black, Hispanic, Asian, White, yellow, green, blue, pink, or teal, you can get depressed and that is ok. There is nothing wrong with you are you are here for a reason. You are amazing and believe me someone loves you.

As this month comes to a close and I evaluate my mental health I’m 100% in a better place than when I started. I realize that I needed to take this break and take care of myself and that is ok. Maybe I was just reacting late to the Winter Blues but I’m ok.

Oh and let me say I’m never embarrassed or ashamed of talking about my mental health. If you have questions ask me. Hiding and pretending like I’m ok is what got me here. I refuse to go back to that place. I’m going to continue to love myself and grow into the person I’m meant to be.

This tattoo hurt worse than any other I have, but the meaning is so strong it was 100% worth every year.

March Gardening Part 4

Let’s grow some stuff early.

Today I’m going to tell you about a few seeds you can get in the ground early. Yes I know you are going to have another frost. Yes I know that it may very well snow again in your area. Yes I know you have no intentions on watering seedlings in 32 degree weather, but guess what? You won’t have to do any of that. With these plants you can drop your seeds and keep it moving.

1. Spinach

2. Peas

3. Onions

4. Beets

5. Carrots

6. Parsnips

7. Turnips

8. Lettuce/Kale

9. Cabbage

10. Potatoes. Of course I was going to mention potatoes.

So why can you plant these seeds early? All these plants love cold weather. For your cabbage and lettuce they actually taste better if they get hit with a bit of frost. These are your hardy plants.

Let me point out that planting seeds when it’s cold does not mean they will sprout when it’s cold. Your seeds still need some heat to germinate so those cold days are not doing much. What this does is let you free up some time to do other things.

This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you about why this plant grows and why that plant grows. NO! You have Google for that. I plant early because I’m lazy. When the weather hits the 50’s and I’m dying to get in the garden this is the stuff I plant. While others are still flipping soil I’m waiting for stuff to sprout. For me it’s about the head start. I don’t know about you but I do not enjoy planting carrots. Those tiny seeds drive me crazy. With this early method I drop some in the soil and walk away. I have no issue with carrots in March when I have all the time in the world.

Last, I garden using a survival of the fittest method. If stuff makes it through the frost and sprouts, my theory is it’s a survivor. Unicorn Crossing is off to a great start with these little hero’s. So far I have planted peas, spinach, carrots, onions, collards, cabbage, and of course potatoes :).

So when that temp gets above 50 again and you are feeling antsy plant some stuff. We are not going to stress about what’s going to sprout, we are going to be amazed when anything sprouts.

Month 3 Wk3 Yr 2 – Out Of Control

“He promised me he will (deliver, deliver, deliver)” – Bebe Winans

When I can’t control my situations I stress. When I stress I get depressed. When I get depressed I eat. When I eat I get depressed.

You can change the order of those words any way you see fit but the results are the same. I’m depressed, stressed, and eating.

I’ve also noticed when I’m very stressed I just don’t eat. I eat everything in sight, and some out of sight things. I crave everything. Sweet, salty, and savory. The list goes from chocolate, to chips, to cheddar bay biscuits. There is no rhyme or reason.

I also develop big plans, telling myself what I’m gonna do tomorrow. Tomorrow I’m going to run. Tomorrow I’m going to eat right. Tomorrow I’m not going to bake a cake or make ice cream (I got a Ninja Creami and although I love it it’s the devil. More to come later). I realize I am out of control because I can’t control stuff.

This is 100% the perfectionist in me. I would love to meet a perfectionist without control issues. I need some tips.

This week has been rough but I’ve figured out a lot. I’ve figured out that as a child when I couldn’t control my environment I ate. When I couldn’t spend time with people I wanted to I could eat. When I found out my then boyfriend was cheating on me I ate. I think part of me ate so I could then blame the fat. It’s easier to assume people don’t like you because you’re fat instead of them just not liking you. Yea it’s the fat.

While I’ve grown out of the “do you like me” phase I have not grown out of the control phase. As my husbands health continues to change I eat. I can’t control his heath so I eat. When my kid is having issues at school I eat. I can’t control him experiencing his first issues with racism so I eat. When I’m killing myself at work trying to get a raise I eat. I can’t control the person who swipes the pen and grants my raise so I eat. As I wait to hear about us closing on our home I eat. I can’t control the underwriter so I eat.

Realizing this through a lot of journaling I’ve decided I need a new trigger. When I’m at my wits end I need to not eat. I need to find something I can do anywhere at anytime. I want to say I’m going to run but I can’t commit to that. I can commit to journaling or crocheting or reading. I also can do a lot of praying and a lot of meditation.

This past week showed me something about myself. I never stop trying to be better. I never stop trying to learn new things and I never stop trying to progress. Depression focuses on the past while worrying about the future. Someone said something to me a long time ago that I’m going to repeat all week.

You can’t worry about it and pray about it.

I can’t ask God to help me with something then tell him how to do it. This week I’m handing all my worries over to God. Once handed to Him I will move on. He hasn’t let me down thus far and I know he’s not going to start.

Meditation and prayer is the recipe for the week. It’s been too long since I’ve spent time with my Father. I’m going to Be Still.

March Gardening Part 3 – Container Gardening Under $100

I realize today as I was going through my notes that the first year I decided to garden I spent over $500. I then spent over $500 the second year and would have spent more if I had not start writing down what I’d spent.

This can be a bit much.

This got me to thinking about people who are just starting out. How can you garden for under $100 without doing any of those tricks that you see on YouTube. I have no intention of seed starting in yogurt cups or egg cartons. I also have no intention on taking old items and turning those into planters. Don’t get me wrong, you can do all those things and save money. I’m just going to be honest and tell you I’m not doing any of that.

So how can people like me start a garden on a budget. Basically people who want function mixed with a little bit of fashion. Here is my must do list to get started. By the way I will be rounding up since I don’t know the tax in your area.

  1. Containers – I recommend 5 gallon buckets. I have seen the price increase but I’m going to tell you the best value for me was Walmart. Not only did they have a lot of buckets but they had a variety of colors. In my garden I have Black, White, Green, and Blue. Cost for one bucket is $3. I would recommend at least 5 buckets to get started so your total investment cost is $15. (You can also buy planters. Make sure they are at least five gallon planters). Some stores may have some on clearance as they make room for this years styles.
  2. Soil – You need a good quality potting mix. You might get a cheap bucket, but do not get cheap soil. I recommend Miracle Grow Potting Mix. This cost around $15 a bag. You will need three bags for a cost of $45. These three bags will not fill all your buckets, but will fill the tops of your buckets where most of the roots will be. You can fill the bottom half of your bucket with the bag your soil came in, leaves, dirt from your yard, branches, or a smaller pot. You might ask why I told you to get five gallon buckets if they are so hard to fill. I actually use them to store my soil from year to year. These buckets become very versatile and dirt ain’t cheap.
  3. Watering Can – You can get a good watering can for $5. If you find one cheaper use the extra money to buy more seeds. This is not a necessity but after you have lugged water back and forth you will thank me. If you have a water hose that you would rather use take that $5 and buy a water wand attachment for your hose. You need water to sprinkling on your plants, not blast them.
  4. Seeds – You should now have $30 left to buy seeds. Seeds vary in price but you dont need to break the bank. You can get seed packs at the dollar store, home improvement stores, or even Walmart and Target. The price of seeds depends on what you want to plant. On average seeds are running $3 a pack this year. Realize you can plant multiple plants in a one bucket. Lettuce can be planted with onions. A tomato plant can be planted with basil. Research companion planting.
  5. Journal – Take $1 and go to the dollar stores and buy a journal or notebook. You need to keep notes. Believe me this will help you next year. If you are tech savvy put it on your phone, but I like paper so I write everything down.

The total is around $96. This is 100% all you need to grow stuff. You don’t need to start out with amendments or fertilizers. There is no need to break the bank if you just want to dabble in gardening to see if this is something you will enjoy. I’m sure you can do this cheaper but I believe these are the basics.

I also suggest a lot of books in my blogs. You don’t need these. Google is free. The internet is packed with information but I will tell you for me it got overwhelming. After you decide what you are going to plant go from there and everything else is easy.

I will make this last point. You are going to hear “plant what you like to eat”. I don’t even like many vegetables but I love gardening. Don’t plant what you like to eat. Plant something that someone will eat. I garden for therapy not to eat stuff. If you are laughing because my garden is large, realize I need a lot of therapy.

They even have yellow buckets now.
Do Not Buy Cheap Soil
Basic watering can.

Let’s Grow Some Stuff

Month 3 Wk2 Yr2 – Getting Better

“We fall down, but we get up” – Donnie McClurkin

“We fall down, but we get up. We fall down, but we get up. We fall down, but we get up. For a saint is just a sinner who fell down, and got up”

This is exactly how I felt all week. Not as much a sinner falling down, but simply a person falling down. My husband basically had to have emergency surgery this week. I believe when something like this occurs the best laid plans go out the window.

I love reading stories where people are in the worst of times and that’s when they decide to change their lives and be amazing. I’m talking about children having cancer and them deciding to lose weight. I’m talking going through a divorce and deciding you will beat depression. I’m talking the tragedy to triumph stories.

Again this week I wish I could tell you I had that story. I did not. I had an “I’m glad I got through this week” story. Today was my first day of vacation and if anyone needed some time off it is me. I haven’t eaten chocolate because I didn’t have any. I would have eaten it if I had it. I’ve been eating popcorn and chips. I haven’t drank soda because I didn’t have any. If I had it I would have drank it.

Now before you go crazy let me tell you that not having something has never stopped me from not eating it. At 10pm I would make a trip for ice cream or chocolate. If I want something bad enough I would just go get it. What’s stopped me this time? I’ve been too tired to even go get stuff. Yes its that bad.

This week my plan is to again make it through the week. Considering its week two and I haven’t posted a challenge I’m deciding that this months challenge is to continue to battle depression. I cannot let this win.

Please remember what I have said before. This doesn’t leave in a day, a week, or a month. It leaves when it wants to. It’s simply our job to keep fighting for one more second, one more minute, one more hour, one more day. I wish there was a switch, hell I know we all wish there was a switch. I will tell you what I tell myself. Let’s make it until tomorrow.

If any of you feel that you have reached a place and you need some help, maybe you feel you just cant battle anymore. Call this number 1-800-273-8255. There is always someone there to talk to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Know that you are not alone.

I will not post weight this month. I think that’s the least of my worries. This month will be all about getting my mental health in order.

March Gardening Part 2 – Containers

If you recall I told everyone that I garden in containers. I told you in the last post why I love containers, but I feel like I also have to be honest. I have to tell you why you may not want to use containers. It’s up to you to make the best choice for your garden. So here are a few reasons you may not want to use containers.

1. Upfront cost- gardening can get pretty expensive and container gardening is no different. There are upfront cost such as the containers, container soil, and amendments. Gardening in containers takes a little bit more prep work than traditional gardening and honestly the cost turns some people away.

2. Choosing a container- when you container garden you have to make sure your pot can hold your full size plant. That cute one gallon pot is nice until you grow cabbage the size of your head.

3. More watering- you have to water containers more often depending on what you use. I like fabric pots and that great feature to air wick roots is the same feature that makes you need to water more often.

4. Pot Prep – you always have to make sure your pots have drainage holes. You also want to make sure the holes are large enough to create enough drainage. Water logged roots mean the death of your plant.

5. Containers are heavy – I know I told you that you can move containers, but sometimes their heavy. I use ten gallon grow bags for potatoes and once they’re set, they’re set. Those bags are heavy enough to throw my back out.

6. Too much water and too many amendments- just like I said you have to water and add amendments. You can also add too much. Without excess dirt to absorb your mistake you might slowly kill your plant. This is a very delicate mix.

7. No natural bugs – although I don’t like worms they are great for your garden. Their poop or “casting” are great natural nutrients. Guess what? Worms can’t climb in pots so you lose that.

8. Fear – people are scared to garden in containers. Gardening is hard enough and now we are adding all these rules. You would rather start simple with that plot of dirt in your yard.

Like I said container gardening or traditional gardening is up to you. Always do what works best. For me I’ve grown into this method and I really enjoy it. I do have challenges from time to time, but it’s just seeds and I can always grow more. Take time to explore. There is no wrong way to garden. You will be surprised at what you are able to grow.

Container Peas and Spinach. Next week I will tell you about seeds you can get in the ground or pot early. These are five gallon grow bags.

Month 3 Wk1 Yr2 – Depression Won

“Depression is living in a body that wants to fight with a mind that wants to die” – Unknown

I wanted to come to you with this fantastic challenge for the new month. I wanted to give you great stories of how I’m excited about this challenge and I’m five pounds lighter.

I can’t tell you any of these things.

This week depression won. I didn’t even feel it coming. Normally I get agitated and moody. I’m either yelling at people for nothing or very distant. I typically want to be by myself; or I don’t want to leave my bed. I also hate doing anything that makes me mentally exert energy so working is very hard.

Again none of this.

What I will tell you is I didn’t want to workout. I didn’t want to eat healthy foods. I didn’t want to log any meals, and I didn’t want to try. I didn’t want to try to do anything except make it from day to day.

I also beat myself up. Mad about the weight I haven’t lost and telling myself I should do better. Feeling like every piece of clothing I put on makes me look frumpy. My hair in a semi raggedy ponytail and my nails unkept. Physically I made myself look at bad as I felt.

What’s stressing me more is I can’t tell you have I got here or why I’m here. I can just tell you I know I’m here. When I got mad at the sun, I knew something was definitely wrong.

Spring is coming and the days are getting longer. With the weather a little nicer I no longer wanted to be in my home, but instead wanted to be outside. Instead of being rational and knowing I could go outside after work I got mad. I got mad that the sun was out and I couldn’t enjoy it. I actually said this out loud “I liked it when the sun didn’t come out because I didn’t feel like I’m missing out”.

I was mad at the sun because I had to work while it was out. Yea that’s when I realized I was headed towards depression, but honestly I knew I was already there.

I’m in the mist of this right now so there is no advice I’m even going to try to give. What I can say is again I didn’t want to blog but I’m not breaking my streak. I said I would talk about the good and bad and unfortunately I’m in the mist of the bad.

I will get through this because I always do, but know that I recognize it’s hard. Depression comes and goes when it wants. It sends me into a tale-spin and refuses to let me go. It likes to have me only focus on things I don’t like about myself and everything that is wrong. I will not do that.

I will get through this. I just have to give myself a little grace.

March Gardening Part 1

“Do some self care, garden” – My Therapist

As the sun begins to come out and the temperature hovers around fifty degrees I along with my neighbors got antsy. I rushed out to my garden to survey all the stuff I didn’t do last year and noticed all my neighbors out with their tools in hand.

Immediately we started talking about how excited we were for the new year. What went wrong last year, and what we all planned on growing. We were all buzzing with excitement. I felt like we were kids who were let out for recess.

We also talked about the new methods we planned to use this year to garden. My furthest neighbor uses traditional gardening. Meaning he took a plot of land, removed the grass and planted seeds. My next door neighbor did a mixture of traditional, raised beds, and container gardening last year. I was 100% containers last year. I also planned to be 100% containers this year.

The question I am constantly asked is why do container garden versus other methods? Below are my top ten reasons.

1. Little to no weeds – when you grow in containers you should use container mix. I use Mel’s Mix from the Square Foot Gardening Method. I highly encourage you to get this book. This mix creates the perfect growing medium and is virtually weed free.

2. Plants grow bigger than planned and you can move them – I am horrible at plant sizing. I see little seedlings and I plant away. Then my plants grow to full size and I have no space. With containers I can just rearrange the garden to create more growing room. This is usually when my front porch and back patio become full.

3. Easy on my back – I have horrible back issues so with pots I can pick them up and garden on a table or ledge. My garden actually has raised planks that are 2ft off the ground and the pots sit on the planks.

4. More control over soil and amendments – as a new gardener I was constantly trying new fertilizer methods. I don’t know about you but I’ve killed a few plants with too much fertilizer. In pots I only kill one plant instead of killing the entire garden.

5. Companion planting made easy – as you start growing more vegetables you will learn some plants should not be near each other. Example potatoes should not be planted near cucumbers. Because these are two things I love I always plant at least five varieties of each. When one ends up next to another I simply move the plant.

6. No slugs – slugs love gardens yet we don’t love slugs. They get into your veggies and feast away. There are many videos that tell you how to get rid of slugs. I prefer to not deal with them at all. To date I’ve never seen a slug crawl into my containers.

7. Fix mistakes – my first year container gardening was a little rough. I wasn’t getting enough water to certain plants, I didn’t add the correct amendments, I also didn’t stake everything that I should have. Containers helped me fix this. I added water dished to containers and watered from the bottom up. If the amendments were off I could just remove the plant and remix the soil. If there was no trellis again I just moved the plant to a trellis.

8. Crop rotation – I don’t know about you but remembering what I planted where is a chore. Simply remembering what I planted is a chore. With containers I don’t have to remember anything. At the end of the season I dumped all the clean soil into buckets and use it the following year.

9. Contaminated soil – I had a friend who’s whole garden was killed due to bad soil she had purchased. She had a raised bed and a few containers and had to throw everything out. With containers, only the contaminated soil would have needed to be thrown out. Soil is way too expensive to waste.

10. Control issues – I have control issues and container gardening let’s me control everything. If the sun is beaming I can move my lettuce to the shade. If the tomatoes need to turn colors I make sure they get full sun. If the temperature gets too cold I can put the pots in the garage (I’ve done this).

This list consists of my top ten. There are many more advantages and some disadvantages as well. Research has helped me make fewer mistakes. Share some of your tips on container gardening.

And as always, Let’s Grow Some Stuff.

Raised Planks in Unicorn Crossing. I can garden without bending over. Back saver.
The planks full.

Month 2 Wk4 Yr2

“Trying to manage diabetes is hard because if you don’t, there are consequences you’ll have to deal with later in life” Bryan Adams

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before but I’m pre-diabetic. I was diagnosed two years ago and since then I’ve struggled on and off to make the best choices to combat this. Honestly one of the reasons I decided to go on the weight loss journey was because of the threat of diabetes.

This week it hit home harder than I wanted. My husband is diabetic and was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. This meant he needed to not only have laser treatments and eye injections, but also eye surgery. Ok I’m going to be honest with you all. That scared the sh$t out of me.

I’m not going to tell you all his business but just know he’s had diabetes for years and only in the last few years has begun to actively take care of it. I don’t want to get to that point.

I don’t want to have eye issues. I don’t want to possibly lose my limbs. I don’t want injections of insulin daily. I don’t want medication on top of medication to control a disease that I caused myself.

And while I don’t want any of that I find myself often not doing anything to stop it.

This week though with his surgery, I was shook.

Something has to click inside of you to do better. I haven’t clicked yet. I’ve turned the corner a little since I’m not binging on foods or stuffing myself silly. I’m drinking more water and actually eating some vegetables, but I haven’t clicked. For me clicking is constantly doing better. It’s me not thinking about eating well, but instead just eating well.

I haven’t given up on the click but I sure will be glad when I find it.

February Start Weight 270

February Ending Weight 267. Three pounds gone.

20 in 20.

Only four days but slow progress is better than no progress.