Tag Archives: garden

Checking In.

Hi… how are you? I’m doing well now, thanks.

When I started this blog over four years ago, one of my goals was to keep sort of a history of my life with diabetes. So every now and then, I sit down and chronicle what’s been going on in my world. Partly for me (it’s my blog, after all); and partly for any family (and you’re family) that may come by, now or later, to find out what was really on my mind back in the spring of 2016. So here’s the latest:

You probably know I’ve been traveling a lot. Las Vegas in March, Northern Virginia a couple of weeks ago, California a few days after that. On the way home from Las Vegas, I had a cough, but I attributed it to the dry climate, and thought I would be better once I got home. Then, on my flight home, I wound up next to someone with a mask on (or off and on) through the flight, who was coughing a lot. A couple of days later, I was real people sick, which turned out to be bronchitis, which I never had before. It was treated, but apparently not enough, because a couple of weeks after that, I came down with something else I never had before: pneumonia. Long story short, a couple of weeks of antibiotics, and I’m back to my old self. Thank goodness, ’cause I felt pretty awful there for a few days. Pneumonia takes no prisoners.

Traditionally, my blood sugar runs high when I travel. Chalk it up to a mixture of food I don’t always eat (and thus have trouble bolusing for), and the fact that I’d rather be high than dangerously low when I’m in a hotel room by myself.

But lately, travel has been no trouble at all. Except for one weird breakfast occurrence in Los Angeles where, after breakfast, I found myself low, then ate the carbs I intentionally ignored over breakfast, then suspended my pump, then ate candy, then ate Skittles (thanks Karen). That kind of low doesn’t happen very often. It must have been the animated conversation.

At home, it’s been a revolving door of sorts. It seems like just when I get home, The Great Spousal Unit is headed somewhere herself. So there has been a fair amount of time at home alone for both of us, though we did travel together for the Friends for Life Falls Church event (and I’m super grateful she decided to come with me/let me drag her down there).

Here in Maryland, it’s finally spring. The azaleas are blooming, I have to mow the grass once a week, and plans are being made for throwing mulch down in multiple beds around the yard. I also put up a new window box for Maureen. She was ecstatic.
I got the vegetable garden started over the weekend (which is a week or two late for me– blame travel and the weather), so in a couple of months at most I should be feasting on home grown lettuce just about every night. I can’t wait.

The BGs at home have been playing nice too, mostly. I just have the feeling that my basal rates are really good right now. My dietary bolus needs have changed a bit over time… does that happen to you too? I don’t even touch half a bagel anymore, let alone a full one. Requires gobs of insulin to bring me back down into range, no matter how much I pre-bolus. Seriously, I’m finding that a donut requires less insulin than a bagel these days. Potatoes don’t seem to require much for me now. Bread, on the other hand, is a nuisance. Pepperidge Farm makes a low carb bread that I found a couple of weeks back though, and it actually tastes like bread and requires far less insulin to cover, so when I’m eating a sandwich or toast, it’s at least a decent option.

Other than that, I must admit to going primarily low carb in the last five or six months. Not crazy low carb, but… you know how People With Diabetes say that over the years, orange juice starts to taste like medicine instead of juice? Well, for me, mindless carbs are starting to look like poison to me. I still eat a little of the poison here and there, but I’m also okay with a salad for dinner and something like quinoa rather than rice. My BGs and my weight have responded positively.

Okay, so that’s a lot of my life right now. How’s it going with you? I’d really like to know. Let’s talk!

Wordless Wednesday: Hooked.

Just to prove you’re not safe from pump distractions anywhere, including the garden…

I’m pretty sure a garden gnome is responsible. Maybe even the Buck Showalter Garden Gnome.

Also: those heirloom cherry tomatoes in my right hand must have been developed by a terrorist, ‘cause they’re the bomb.

Mid-Season Garden Update.

To say I’ve been insanely busy these last few months is quite an understatement. Right now, it’s work… all day meetings, but don’t forget to get the rest of the work done, rinse, repeat.

I’m not really complaining. Every so often in a job like mine, you have a year when a lot of things happen, and you’re depended on to give the extra measure of devotion for the good of the team. This is one of those years. It happens.

All this extra work makes it even nicer when I can come home and eat out of my garden. Here’s a mid-season update:

The big thing you notice here is the yellow squash plant, which I should never have planted there. They get pretty big after a while (like “Feed me, Seymour” big), and if they can, they’ll steal sunlight from any other plants in the area, like my tomatoes and my peppers. So I have to trim off a leaf or two now and then to make some space.

The bad news is that there seems to be evidence of some creature (squirrels, probably) eating the flowers (which come just before the squash), which is what helped me maintain a healthy plant that bore absolutely no squash last year.

The good news is that I have a couple of squash that have survived anyway.

But, more bad news: In Monday night’s thunderstorm for the ages, my red leaf lettuce plants got pelted and fell over. This looks like the beginning of the end for these guys, which is sad because I’ve been eating salads nearly every day for over a month. I mean, these guys were the gift that keeps on giving. We’ve already eaten the romaine… there are just a few secondary shoots that have grown back, and they’ll make good salad. In addition to that, most of the radicchio (to the right of the romaine) has done very well.

Other than that, it looks like my pepper plants are surviving and thriving, and two of my three tomato plants are going gangbusters. I don’t know what happened to the third one, but it just stopped growing up a few weeks ago. I’m still holding out hope, but not much.

Oh, and I almost forgot: I’ve managed to get a few strawberries this year from a secondary garden. Most of them are smaller than what you’ll find in the grocery store, but they are so amazingly good! I can’t find enough adjectives to describe how mouthwateringly fresh they are.
So that’s what’s happening in the garden so far this year. Things aren’t perfect (like diabetes, gardening rarely is), but there’s still a lot to look forward to.

How ‘bout your summer? What are you up to, and what are you looking forward to?

Veg Report: Watcha growin’ this year, Stephen?

Weeellll, how nice of you to ask!

I did get my veggies in the ground this past weekend. For some around here, that’s a bit early; we sometimes get frost as late as May. But I’m hoping the really cold weather is behind us, and even if it isn’t, I’ll find a way to keep the frost away from my tender plants.

I’ve grown vegetables for twenty-something years now, and this is the eighteenth year I’ve been growing them in the same place: same yard, same spot. I rotate where I plant what about every other year, but other than that, this spot works well. Lots and lots of sun. We’ve also got a separate herb garden (where we also grow strawberries), but that’s not worth showing right now, especially since the strawberries are threatening to overrun the joint.

For the vegetable garden, here’s the layout:

Over there on the right are the greens: Romaine lettuce in the front, and red leaf lettuce in the back. In about five weeks, I’ll have more fresh salad makings than I’ll know what to do with. And I like that.

A little to the left of the romaine is radicchio. Radicchio is a little peppery, and it’s a good compliment in a salad to something a little milder, like romaine or iceberg lettuce. Plus, it’s great in alternative dishes like a carrot salad.

Moving left, you’ll see a decent sized open space. This is where I’ve grown green beans in years past. I don’t know if I’m going to do green beans again this year. I still have some in the freezer from last year’s garden. Instead, I think I’ll drop a couple potatoes in there and see what they can do. I’ve had some success with potatoes in the past, and they’re about the easiest thing to grow. Just save a couple of your favorite potatoes (mine are red skin potatoes) from the store until they start sprouting, then plant them. After a couple of months, reach your hand down in the soil near where you planted them, and see if anything is there. Doesn’t take much more than that.

Moving left past the bare space, you’ll see a very small yellow squash plant. This is supposed to grow those small, straight, yellow squashes that are great for a number of things. But my experience tells me that when plants get enough water, they’re usually straight, and when they’re dehydrated, they get a little misshapen. Kinda like me.

Next to the squash are three pepper plants. One is a “lunchbox” pepper, which is supposed to produce little yellow and orange sweet peppers. I’m hoping they produce, but I haven’t grown this one before, so whatever happens, happens. The other two are my favorites: poblano peppers, which are sort of smoky and are great in almost anything.

In the back are our three tomato plants. These are all heirloom tomatoes. According to Wikipedia, “an heirloom tomato (also called heritage tomato in the UK) is an open-pollinated (non-hybrid) heirloom cultivar of tomato”.

From right to left, there’s a cherry tomato plant, that was extremely prolific last year. In the middle is my favorite tomato, the Mr. Stripey. It grows orange, with little yellow stripes, and it is delicious. The other one is a Cherokee Purple, which, once it ripens, is pretty much how it sounds.

I’ve also got an extra planter with arugula and additional radicchio, because I bought too many plants.

There’s no real point in sharing all of this with you, except to keep a record of what I’m growing, and to tell you how exciting it is to plant something, care for it, watch it grow, and harvest it months later.

Taking care of my veggie garden never gets old. What are you growing this year?

Tending the garden.

I have a small vegetable garden in the back yard. This year, I’ve grown lettuce, green beans, assorted peppers, tomatoes and potatoes, and yellow squash. To get to the final goodness of what a summer garden can provide, I have to do a lot of weeding. A lot. Of weeding. A lot.


And naturally, that makes me think about living with diabetes.

We’ll have average days, beautiful days, rainy days, sunny days, and super-hot days. But the weeding still needs to be done. During those same days, we need to remember to test, treat, inject, or whatever we have to do to maintain a healthy blood glucose.

If we go through a dry spell, I’ll need to water everything in the garden. If we go through several days of rain, I have to make sure nothing gets damaged by the extra dampness. If my blood sugar is high, I need to exercise and/or drink copious amounts of water to bring the numbers down. If I’m low, it’s juice, glucose tabs, or candy to the rescue. I have to be ready despite the weather or how I feel.

Sometimes the weeds are the creeping kind, that spread out across the garden. Often, they’re the climbing kind, that wrap around my plants and threaten to choke them before they can bear any fruit. Occasionally, an unexplained illness or a bent cannula can threaten to ruin my diabetes that day. Constant vigilance is required to snuff out all threats to a healthier life.


Why do the weeds want to grow more in my garden anyway? The simple answer is that the soil is better there. It’s been cleaned up and fertilized every spring to help my veggies grow big and flavorful. If I were a weed, I’d want to grow in my garden too. Maintaining a lower A1c is kind of like that too: The better we manage our diabetes all the time, the closer we are to hypoglycemia all the time.

Better soil = Better environment for weeds
Better BG control = Closer to hypoglycemia

But… Just like tending our gardens diligently produces blockbuster crops and tasty, low-carb treats throughout the summer and even into the fall and winter, tending our diabetes with equal diligence allows us the opportunity to continue spending our lives with the ones we love. It allows us the chance to maintain steady pursuit of our dreams. It provides us with an opportunity to grow, blossom, and bear the fruits of a live well lived.


I hope your summer gardens, diabetes, and dreams are all weed free and full of special moments.

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