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Do your vege plants play well together?  Yep -- that's right there's such a thing as "companion gardening" and some plants grow well with certain others, and others, not so much!  I guess plants are more human than we thought, right?  For example, tomatoes love cucumbers, peppers and onions, but they would prefer not to be planted near potatoes or cabbage.  Cucumbers are not happy with potatoes either.  Peas thrive near beans and carrots, but don't do well planted with onions.  It may sound all a little too complicated and gardening is not suppose to be this technical!  To help you understand a little about nature's way, you can find a easy to follow companion growing chart at www.no-dig-vegetablegarden.com/companion-planting.  Have fun playing in your garden! 
 
 
The Christmas presents have all been unwrapped, but there's still one more gift to unwrap -- a brand New Year.  I love it -- it's another chance to get it right; another chance to attack those goals and dreams!  In football lingo -- it's 1st and 10 with a new set of downs; except it's 1st and 365 -- 365 days to cross the goal line!  So we're gonna greet 2012 with Southern style and charm in anticipation of good health and good fortune!  A little gold and silver will adorn the dining table and a delicious menu is planned:  Cheese Ring with mint-pepper jelly, Hoppin' John, Southern Cornbread, Cole Slaw and for dessert, Bananas Foster Upside-Down Cake.   Oh -- and the cocktail -- we'll "clink" our glasses filled with Orange, Cranberry Gin and Tonic (click for Recipes).  Yummy!  I hope you unwrap your 2012 with anticipation of wonderful blessings!  
 
 
John and I have so much for which we're thankful and we feel truly blessed - strong healthy children and grandchildren, careers, wonderful family and friends and a life that's always giving us challenges and opportunities. We try to take on each day expecting something great to happen.  But we also know that our blessings shouldn't be taken for granted.  There but by the grace of God go I is something I often think.  What makes me better or different from the guy who is less fortunate than I -- nothing -- nothing at all except for the grace of our God.  That's why giving back and paying it forward has always been important to us.  We're strongly involved with the Dreams Come True Foundation which is a wonderful organization that benefits childen in the Central Virginia area suffering from life-altering diseases; but again, we're truly blessed to be a part of such a strong and wonderful organization.   But ....... we want to do a little more before this year comes to an end.  So ...... for the month of December, Yohmans' Garden will be donating 10% of its profits to the Central Virginia Food Bank.  This organization doesn't get enough support or credit.  They help feed the young and old across Central Virginia, with the Meals on Wheels program, Community Kitchen, Kids' Cafe and backpack program.  My grandfather, Bob Horne, always made sure his family and friends had food on the table.  Bob Horne didn't want anyone to go hungry and as long as he could help it, the people that he knew and loved weren't hungry.  So in honor of my grandfather, during December, Yohmans' Garden will be helping the Central Virginia Food Bank feed the young and old.  Get involved, give back and pay it forward.  The Central Virginia Food Bank at www.feedmore.org or the Dreams Come True Foundation could use your monetary donations  or your time www.dctf.org.  I promise you'll get back in return much more than you give.  Let's start December remembering the joy of giving.
 
 
 No recipes, no garden tips -- not today.  Today it's about loving them anyway!  Loving the people who will always talk about you, especially when they envy you and the life you live.  Let them .... you affected their lives, they didn't affect yours, and that's perfectly alright -- just sit back and think to yourself -- Damn, I've got myself a fan club!  We all have special gifts and talents that our Good Lord gave us to share and I think when we start living up to our potential and start sharing those special gifts and talents, it scares some.  Scary to some because they're afraid they're not living up to their potential!  But just because they're afraid, don't let it stop you from being all you can and were meant to be.  So ...... I say...... just keep giving 'em something to talk about and to coin Nike's phrase -- Just Do It!  Live it, breath it, do it -- You'll keep building that Fan Club! 


 
 
 
Yellow, orange, and lavender -- those colorful Fall mums that lined your front porches and sat on those decorative straw bales were gorgeous and now .................... well now they've kind of lost their appeal and probably not looking so great.  But now -- what do you do with them?  Compost pile?  Landfill?  Or ................. maybe you should plant them so you can enjoy them for years to come.  So, here's a little help to get you started .........  First, pick a nice sunny spot in your yard that gets about 6 hours of full sun each day and then create a hole the depth of the mum's root ball -- probably 4" - 6".  You'll want the top of the root ball even with the ground.  Once your hole is prepared, remove all of the dead blooms from the plant and then place in the hole.  Make sure you water and mulch the plant well to keep it insulated during the winter.  Pine tags or mulched leaves are great for providing a nice warm bed for your plants.  Some gardeners suggest cutting the plants down by several inches at this time, but I think for the central Virginia area, it's best not to cut them back until early July.  Also, since the garden shop or florist where you purchased the mums already applied fertilizer in their potting soil mix, there's no need to fertilize in the fall when planting. But ... by Spring, your mums are a little hungry and I suggest giving them some Plant-tone (available at your local garden shop) and then another dose of Plant-tone in early Summer.  To encourage branching and development of your mums, its important to pinch back your garden mums in the spring as soon as the new growth is 4-6" tall.  Pinch off about 1/2 of the new growth; repeat the pinching until early July.  Your Fall mums that aren't looking so great today will again be gorgeous late next Summer and Fall, so you can enjoy them all over again.  Happy Planting!  Don't wait for it to be a great day -- create a great day!
 
 
Just as I was starting to type I completely changed my mind about what I was going to write about.  It's a woman's perogative - right - to change her mind?  Anyway, I was going to write a little about what to do with those colorful fall mums that everyone has lining their front porches or sitting on those decorative bales of hay. You know the ones -- the ones that are now fading, with blooms falling off -- the ones that you keep thinking -- I really should do something with those -- but what?  Then ............... I changed my mind.  For some reason, I thought about a conversation I recently had with someone about "Sundays" and how we spend our time on Sundays.  When I was growing up, Sundays meant sunday school, worship service, singing in the choir, lunch with family and friends, visits with grandparents and aunts and uncles, drives a little further into the "country."  I say "further" because Hanover County used to be country -- where I remembering getting our first stop light.  Gathering at my grandparents' house waiting for Bubba and maybe Aunt Dell and Uncle Bill to stop by -- Sundays were family time.  The point is Sundays were meant for worship and rest.  But somehow and at some time, it changed.  Sundays started becoming a day to shuttle kids to baseball and soccer tournaments, instead of sunday school; a day to work a part-time job or overtime on your full-time job; a day to catch up on laundry, scrubbing floors, yard work, and all the other chores that we couldn't squeeze in during the week.  As I grew older and my life starting getting away from the Sundays that I grew up with, my grandmother would always remind me what Sundays were made for.  My Nanny and Granddaddy were wise people and they sure didn't get it wrong with Sundays.  They knew what they were talking about.  Sundays should be reserved for a day of worship, rest and family.  Sundays should be the day that we recharge our mind, soul and body for Monday through Saturday.  Today, John and I took Mom out for brunch, and visited with the kids in Gloucester.  Nanny, I'm trying to do better.  So, today, I'll recharge and tomorrow I'll give you guys some hints on those mums!    
 
 
Today was a day that I was thankful for old friends, excited to meet new friends, and loved the fact that I have a wonderful supportive family -- truly blessed!  Old friends, Teresa Williams and Lisa Martin, what a perfect event you put together today; Carol Carpenter and Anna - thank you for always supporting me; my family - Jeannette, George, Nancy, Elizabeth, Meredith and Janet -- God blessed me with you to call my family; and finally, I met so many wonderful and dear people today who I call my new friends.  Now you just can't argue with day like this! 
 
 
Oh my goodness!  I can smell Spring in the air -- finally, and I love it!  The garden was turned over this week and we've expanded -- again!  Thanks Dan Terry - you're the best!  More tomatos, more peppers, more........... more................. more.............. John and I are making plans as to when we'll start putting seeds and plants in the ground -- snow peas, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce!  It looks like we'll be putting in the cool weather crops next week.  I'm so excited about having fresh vegetables just outside the back door again.  I love coming home and making a meal out of our garden - it's a satisfying feeling when I can look at what we've planted and produced, and bring it to our table.  Love it!  Of course, the beginning of the planting season, means the beginning of the planning for our salsas, jellies, pickles and sauces.  Looking into new recipes this year and we hope to expand but also make sure we keep producing in the high-quality fashion that our friends, family, and customers have come to expect from us.  If I won't serve it on my table, I don't want you to serve it on yours!  2011 has already delivered, and I'm sure it's bounty will continue for our business and our personal lives.  Many of our friends and family have had a quick start in 2011 and made some significant changes in their lives!  I'm looking forward with great anticipation and excitement.  As I put together some new recipes, I'll be sure to share them with all of you!   day! 
 
 
Sunday -- end of the week, or the start of a new one?  Maybe a little of both!  Time to reflect on the previous week which ended close to perfect -- spending the weekend on Hatteras Island was as close to God as I can get.  Since I was a little girl, I always remember being able to find my balance when I visited the ocean.  No matter where life has taken me -- the ocean reminds me of how big and great God really is.  This weekend was no different!  Thankful for children and grandchildren who I adore; thankful for a husband who let me get away to the beach while he stayed at home to work; thankful for and reflective of wonderful friends who have had a tough week and faced some heartbreaking and difficult challenges (the sudden loss of a special person; moving your family and accepting a new job opportunity).  Charlie Brown says in the book of Life, the answers aren't in the back.  So .... even though the answers aren't in the back, I'm going to continue to read and take my chances on the answers!  That Charlie Brown -- he was one smart guy!   
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I found a guy who calls me beautiful instead of hot, who called me back when I hung up on him, who will lie under the stars and listen to my heartbeat, or stays awake just to watch me sleep...........I waited for the boy who kisses my forehead, who wants to show me off to the world when I'm at my worst, who holds my hand in front of his friends, who thinks I'm just as pretty without makeup..........one who constantly reminds me of how much he cares and how lucky he is to have me.............the one who turns to his friends and says "that's my girl."  I love you John Yohman.  Thank you for your love and support, as we start this new journey, and thank you for dreaming with me.  It won't be a dull moment, I promise.  But ............ really has it been dull so far?