goldfinch on purple coneflower against green background
Curing the Gardening Phobia

Get Dirty. Make Happiness.

Suppose it’s early in the morning. You sit at your breakfast table and hear birds chirping. With only a slight turn of your head you see a pair of small yellow, white, and black birds perched on the flowers. Their tiny, quick, head-fluttering matches their light, twittering chirps. Relax.

Continue reading “Get Dirty. Make Happiness.”
yellow broom-like witch hazel blossoms
Pruned Bio


I’m Mary Carol—a neighborhood amateur gardener. Seasoned from years of mistakes along the way—and some hard-won successes. I’ve tried most organic solutions that I’ve read about, and I’ve had to use some chemicals here and there.

Did you know that’s the definition of “organic”? Mostly natural solutions and practices, with some chemicals when all else fails. All certified Organic farmers operate that way. The main concern is to maintain a healthy environment for plants to grow in: healthy soil, clean water, and clean air.

My chemicals—I have 3—are stored on the top shelf in my garden shed. I have more than double that number of organic garden aids: diatomaceous earth, neem oil, at least half a dozen organic fertilizers, Dr. Bronner’s soap (to make my insecticidal soap), a new product I’ve tried called Iron X. I keep trying the organics that come out and will let you know how well they work.

This past season, I had to buy my first-ever fungicide. We’ve had so much rain that I was afraid of losing my azaleas. They had not bloomed in spring, then they caught a nasty fungus.

We sprayed carefully, after studying the manufacturers’ recommendations, to make sure the spray didn’t drift (used it on a non-windy day, and carefully targeted only the azaleas, washed up as directed and stored the container up high). And the fungicide seemed to work…

As Fall came on, they looked healthy and were growing. I hope they bloom next Spring. I spread a nice thick layer of home-made compost over them and topped it off with another layer of store-bought mulch. Fingers-crossed!

After decades of working my garden on the weekends, I’m finally bringing it to the foreground of my life. Up front—warts and all!

I have 2 kids and 2 grandkids who love digging in the dirt. My husband is my partner who willingly does the heavy-duty digging and building. We live in a midwestern, suburban neighborhood, and I fight weeds every day! Just like you.

Follow me to get super simple instructions for garden tasks—Curing the Gardening Phobia

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You can also follow me to get the latest news on the environmental front—What’s the Buzz?

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And please use this site to ask questions and talk about your struggles and plans.

So nice to meet you! Mary Carol Ghislin

small royal blue bird, with white breast on moss-covered wood
What's the Buzz?

What Will the Apocalypse Sound Like?

It’s already here. We now know what it sounds like. It’s not a deafening boom of an atomic bomb…not a screech of iron and steel twisting…not a chest-rumbling thud of trees falling…not a frightening pop-pop-pop of gunfire.

Continue reading “What Will the Apocalypse Sound Like?”