Mary, Mary Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

We got back to Denver last Tuesday, and by the time we got everything unpacked and got adjusted to the hour time change, it was snowing…..

May is a tough time in Colorado for people who are eager to garden. The problem is that there is inevitably really nice weather late in April and early in May. The weather’s so nice, in fact, that it lulls one into thinking that our local meteorologist Kathy Sabine will no longer feel a need to warn us that there is cold weather on the horizon. She has put away her fur-lined parka for the spring and summer and is bringing out her umbrella.

I’m pretty good about waiting until after Mother’s Day to put my garden plants and seeds in the ground. I learned the hard way. Shortly after we moved into this house, the weather outside convinced me it would be safe to plant. So I went to my favorite garden store and purchased several hundred dollars worth of plants: petunias and geraniums and tomatoes and peppers and all manner of things that don’t do well in cold. I cheerfully planted.  And then, of course, it got cold and everything died.

You must never plant until after Mother’s Day, everyone told me. And from that time on, I always spent Mother’s Day at my favorite garden store, along with every other would-be gardener in Denver. This year I was still in AZ on Mother’s Day because of my niece’s graduation. And it’s a good thing, too. Because I assure you I would have spent the afternoon of Mother’s Day planting and regretting the decision a few days later.

But Saturday night during her weather report, Kathy Sabine assured me that the freezing temperatures are over for the winter. She thinks.

So I spent a lot of Sunday planting. And when I say “I” I really mean Allen’s girlfriend Emma. Bill and I were out Saturday pulling weeds and looking forlornly at my garden that was so desperately in need of tending when she came out of the house and said, “I would be happy to help you plant your garden tomorrow.” I swear. She really did say this. And she meant it, because when we got home from church yesterday late morning, she was in her gardening clothes and eager to start. I was doing her a favor, really. Really, I was.

And as Emma planted, Bill built fence, just like a rancher….

And so now Emma’s garden, er, my garden has a beautiful fence around it, sturdy enough to keep the foxes out. She, er, I planted a tomato plant, a jalapeno plant, some green beans, carrots, radishes, thyme, parsley, and basil. I also put in petunias, though I will still need to put in more so that my garden can be full of color in a month or so. And, by the way, it really was me who planted the petunias…..

Kaiya has requested a broccoli plant, and I will comply once I can find a broccoli seedling to plant. Because here is the conversation between a clerk at my friendly neighborhood Home Depot and me. “Hello, Ma’am,” she said. “Can I help you find something?” “Yes,” I replied. “I’m looking for a broccoli plant.” “Okay,” she said. “There’s some over there somewhere,” and she flitted her hand in a northwesternly direction, and walked away. I’m not fibbing.

Okay then. Needless to say, I was unable to find it over there somewhere, so I will go to my friendly neighborhood garden store and see if they can be a bit more helpful.

But at least it’s not snowing.

Guest Post: Idle Hands are the Devil’s Workshop

Bill is enjoying the fruits of his labor.

Bill is enjoying the fruits of his labor.

By Bill McLain

Every year when we get to our house in Mesa, like any homeowner, I find things that need attention. This year I repainted a wall in a bathroom, repaired woodpecker holes in the exterior stucco walls, sealed off the openings under our roof tiles where birds had been nesting, cleaned the detritus from rocks under the tree in the front yard, and did other cleaning jobs around the house. Most of these things needed to be done; others I did just to keep busy. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” (Proverbs 16: 27-29) and so on.

Some time ago Kris mentioned that she would like an outdoor kitchen in Arizona. Well, I was looking for something to keep me busy, so I decided to build her one. Having only a vague idea what it should look like, and without any plans, I dove in. Attached are photos of the initial construction of a patio extension and base for the kitchen through actually using the final product. It took a little longer than I anticipated, as my projects usually do, but with a few (well, more than a few) bruises, nicks and cuts, a lot of visits to Lowes and Home Depot (they each gave me my own vest and name tag), and a few online orders (but no vests), I am happy with the result, and I think that Kris and Jen are too.

First I added on to the patio to provide a base for the kitchen.

First I added on to the patio to provide a base for the kitchen.







I used our existing gas grill.

I used our existing gas grill.







The old grill's base was removed in preparation for its installation in its new home.

The old grill’s base was removed in preparation for its installation in its new home.







My next step was to create the frame.

My next step was to build the frame.







After it was completely framed, I was ready to add to concrete board.

After it was completely framed, I was ready to add concrete board.








One of the last things I did was to add our lights. Almost finished!

One of the last things I did was to add lights. Almost finished!







I particularly enjoyed the tile work and think it adds a lot to the beauty of the kitchen.

I particularly enjoyed the tile work and think it adds a lot to the beauty of the kitchen.







Kris prepares one of our first meals outdoors.

Kris prepares one of our first meals outdoors.











Here I am enjoying an adult beverage at the bar of our spectacular outdoor kitchen!

Here Kris is enjoying an adult beverage at the bar.








Nana’s Notes: Bill started the project sometime late February, responding to my rumblings of how much I like the looks of an outdoor kitchen, and how I think they make a lot of sense in Arizona, especially when it starts getting hot in late spring. I had no idea how much work would be involved. You would think after nearly 23 years of marriage, I would know that Bill McLain does nothing second-best. He seriously spent the next seven weeks building the kitchen. He would get up early in the morning and the first thing he would do would be to walk outside with his cup of coffee and, well, I don’t really know. Check to see if it was still there, I guess. Once it got late enough that he could make noise (say, 7:30), work began. He would take water and bathroom breaks, stop for lunch, and then I would see him again about dinnertime. When he wasn’t working, he was on his Ipad researching and buying. When he wasn’t doing any of those things, he was at Home Depot or Lowes, or just THINKING about it all.

The result, as you can see, is amazing. We premiered our kitchen on the Saturday before Easter with family. The food, including the ham, was all cooked on the grill. We had a crockpot plugged in outside for appetizers. We sat at the bar that he made while dinner was being prepared right before our eyes. 

I’m, of course, thrilled with the result, but also happy to have my husband back. 

Here’s to Bill and his magnificent kitchen!