The heat of summer calls for cool recipes and stuff to read. This first issue discusses tools: hula hoe and spud bar.
Garden Enthusiasm Newsletter

July Growth Spurts

If you planted Nasturtium seeds when I posted the plant profile you would have those round leaves with cheery blooms by now. Never fear- go ahead and put some into the garden now, they grow pretty quickly. but that isn't what I wanted to tell you about... no, I want to crow about this new newsletter because I can insert all sorts of fun that doesn't really have a place on the blog or website.

July is hot and if you live in Ohio, stuff is really growing like crazy. Especially weeds. I had some weeding tips in the Garden Journal, White Rabbit Gardening - if you missed it.

Grass has gotten a foothold in July, but those pesky Canadian thistles are going to flower and then to seed- so mow them down. If you can't pull them just cut off at ground level, anything to keep them from going to seed. The saying is: "one years seed, seven years weed".

My favorite tool for weeding the vegetable garden is a hoe called a "hula hoe". I wrote about many types of hoes for a Squidoo page "What Good Are Garden Hoes?" I was surprised to find so many, although I own a number of different ones, myself. This one, the hula hoe, is something of a D shape which shuffles below the surface of the ground. It is a whiz at cutting off newly sprouting weeds, and even dispatches medium growth. I inherited it from my father-in-law. As long as you have a little space you can get rid of weeds easily.  Try one, and see if it doesn't cut the work of weeding quite a bit.

Watch for the July Chore post, it won't be late like the June one- since I already took my vacation!


  • Fresh Mozzarella, sliced
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Tomatoes, seeded and sliced 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick
  • Fresh basil leaves
For one stack (1 serving):

Place a slice of Mozzarella on a serving plate and drizzle with a small amount of the vinegar and oil, then a small sprinkling of salt and pepper. Layer with a slice of tomato, then a basil leaf, then two more tomato slices. Top with one more slice of Mozzarella and then another fresh basil leaf. Drizzle with more vinegar and oil, to taste. Season with a little more salt and pepper.

Fast-only 5 minutes, Fresh, Delicious... Recipe found @ Seeded at the Table blog

tool tips

Spud Bars

No, not a place where they sell potato-based alcoholic drinks. This is a tool that I have never included in my "must-have" lists which are usually geared towards beginning gardeners who aren't sure of what tools to start out with. If you have never seen a spud bar, it is a very long, very heavy pole-like tool with a chisel edged end. I thought of it the other day as probably one of my favorite tools. Nothing is better for cutting large roots or grubbing out small mulberry trees.

A spud bar is so heavy because it is made of steel- you don't want to carry one around, but all that weight comes in handy when it is thrust at a stubborn root. This bar can weigh between 15 and 16 pounds. It can pry up rocks and pierce frozen soil... although for me the use on thick roots is worth the price of the tool. Often used for post holes, the end has a tamper that firms in the soil.

I thought I'd mention it because it is such a labor saver in encounters with thick tap roots.
My lists of tools every gardener should own were given in two pages:
Garden tools, and
Garden Tools for Beginners

I know I said that this email was not about selling things... and that is never the main focus of my writing on , but if I mention tips that include info on certain tools or plants, wouldn't you want a handy link to where you can learn more or buy it for yourself?

I'm guessing the answer is yes, if you are anything like me (and I'm pretty "common denominator" in that way). So I hope you give me permission to add things like that from time to time.
blue and yellow in large jar

Coming Features

Posts and Photos: Since I took lots of photos, both last year and this, that never found their way into the sites, I plan to use them in the coming year. I hope you like inspirational musing because that is the direction I would like to take what I write. One of the reasons I love gardening is the same reason I have always loved the world of nature: its regenerating power, its transcendental power to lift my spirit.

So much of gardening is art. It is the technical skills we learn in caring for plants, but it is also the way we interpret the use of plants and the things that the world of flora and fauna teach us. It is so much more than simply "how-to".
Although I have to say that the how-to is pretty important, too... and there will always be those didactic parts of how I simply have to share good advice and include the knowledge that I look for when planting a new plant, or creating a new part of the garden.

I want to share pictures of the Western USA because I found it so beautiful, but must give fair warning that I have no expertise in gardening under those climate and soil conditions. Maybe I'll just give you  newsletter subscribers those pictures to look at!
golden rod
Goldenrod (Solidago) is a wildflower in the Prairie Oaks park, Columbus Metro Parks.

New Pages Added

If it has been awhile since you visited the Ilona's Garden, check what's new. Related Squidoo pages I've written that you may find interesting:
Learn about Butterflies   Keep a Garden Journal 

The pace has picked up on posting to Ilona's Garden Journal, the garden website, and new projects are trialed ( like some pages on Hubpages). This newsletter will try to eventually cover all that, and some newsletters are going to be dedicated to the best links on Garden topics, or for you to discover. One I liked this month was Prairie Break blog  especially since I had traveled out West and wondered about gardening in the desert or the high plains. Beautiful photos and interesting observations on many places all over the world.

Did you like this first issue?

Spread the word. Forward the email, tweet the links, or however you like to share... let's grow some gardening enthusiasm!
(Photo of the Salpiglossis I bought this year)

Spud Bar

Here is a quick link to the type of spud bar I use. My husband bought one of these for putting in fenceposts originally. True Temper 1160000 71-Inch Post Hole Digging Bar
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