Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Beautify Your Garden

Thank God it’s Monday, again. I personally look forward to all Mondays, as they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you. Therefore, happy Monday – and happy April, too.





Now that I’m done spring cleaning the inside of my home, it’s time to go outside, into my garden areas, and to do some spring cleaning there, as well. However, true to form for April, we’re expecting a rainy week so I don’t know how much I’ll be able to accomplish – but, as they say, April showers bring May flowers.

April is an all-seasons-rollercoaster month, thus, this is when I start planting my vegetable garden seeds indoors. The seedlings will then be transplanted outside after Mother’s Day weekend. Therefore, I’ll be making my gardens beautiful, again, soon enough.

This month is celebrating, among other things, Keep America Beautiful Month, Lawn and Garden Month, and National Garden Month. To celebrate these observances, as I suggested a few weeks ago (for National Plant A Flower Day), you can have a garden picnic or go to a nursery and buy a new flowering pot or hanging basket.

You can also decorate your garden area with any variety of garden art to give it that curb appeal look. After all, even a little curb appeal can go a long way. It often inspires others to do so too. If you have the room, add a seating area, where you can enjoy your garden, up close and personal.


I also suggested giving a gardening gift to someone, such as a seed kit or potted flowers, which can be brought in at night; incase of frost since it’s still a little early, here, for planting outside. I bought some inexpensive silk flowers, to create some spring-beckoning color accents in some window boxes and planters, just as my mom did for many years.

I have to be careful about what I plant because of the deer in my area. Many beautiful flowers are very appetizing to them. The flowers that bloom, here, are usually gone (eaten) in the blink of an eye. I don’t mind feeding the fauna but I also want to plant species I can admire and smell for a little while – and which the pollinators can enjoy, as well.

Additionally, gardening has mental and physical health benefits. Gardening feeds our bodies a lot of essential Vitamin D since we’re outside, in the sunshine, which is a natural source for it. Gardening also stimulates the brain, relieving stress and elevating happiness. Incidentally, National Gardening Day will also be observed in just a couple of weeks.

Did you know that plants, which are great to establish in April, include fruit trees and berry plants or bushes? I planted a couple of cherry trees on our property in the spring of 2012 and they’re still doing really well. The birds love them immensely and our cats love watching them (from our living room windows) enjoy the trees.

It’s commonly known that growing your own fruits and vegetables inspires a healthier diet. That, in turn, strengthens our immune system. Obviously, gardening is also healthy exercise, as it does provide a cardiovascular/physical workout, which also burns a lot of calories. But do you know how much?

20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn, by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd. (as seen on says that, outside the house, two hours of general gardening can burn about 648 calories or more (depending on the tasks).

Pushing a lawn mower for one hour can burn 324 calories. 30 minutes spent raking up the grass clippings will burn another 171 calories. The article further advocates that, by spending 4 hours of hard-work cleaning up the neighborhood, you can burn about 1,800 calories. Plus, you’ll be beautifying your community.

During the first year of Mom’s newsletter, which she and Dad self-published from January 1974 through December 2000,  she dedicated a whole page to gardening tips and trivia. She had learned a lot about gardening from Dad’s mom, when they lived with Dad’s parents, during their first year of marriage, before they got their first home.

However, as Mom’s recipe business grew, we moved to a bigger home in St. Clair (1977). By then, Mom no longer had the time for a garden. Instead, she often used silk flowers in the windowboxes to beautify the house, seasonally. Nevertheless, she did continue having at least a few tomato plants in patio pots every year – until they moved to a condo.

By the way, Mom liked to use coffee grounds and ground-up, dried, egg shells to help her tomato plants thrive. A tip she learned from my Dad’s mom, who gardened and canned a lot of tomatoes, sauces, and jams in her own lifetime.


Enjoying the benefits that gardening gave her, she wanted to pass on what she learned to her readers. However, as more requests came in for more copycat recipes of famous dishes form famous restaurants, fast food chains, and the like, her gardening information became less important to include and was eventually put on a back burner, indefinitely.

Celebrate national observances for lawns, gardens and landscapes this month, by spring gardening, which can be very therapeutic if you’re feeling stressed, depressed, and/or cooped-up, from the winter season. The fresh air and sunshine are great mood-lifters. Which reminds me that National Garden Meditation Day is coming on May 3rd.


As seen in…

The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979)


MANY PEOPLE FEEL that life is uphill all the way. They fail to look at the things that are good, enjoyable and worthwhile. They are conscience only of the climb. No road is ever uphill forever! We should soon learn the importance of being able to also come downhill without fear and be able to notice the scenery along the road, too.

Going through life without noticing the scenery and trying to see some of the beauty that is there – waiting to be recognized – reminds me of running helter-skelter up and down the supermarket aisles without seeing the ABUNDANCE that is there.

Just take a moment to look at the heart-breaking plight of starving people in many parts of the world and, then, take a good look at the aisles and aisles of food available in this country!

We have so much available to us here… Many people fill their backyards each spring with flowers and shrubs, when they could easily plant food-seeds instead, thus cutting something off that weekly grocery bill!

Vegetable gardening is a little more involved than other types of gardening. In any gardening, first, you have to get the soil ready, by mulching, weeding, composting, etc. before you even plant the bulbs, seeds or seedlings. When planting vegetables, some seeds are better to start indoors, such as tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, and broccoli.

After about 6-8 weeks of growth, the seedlings are transplanted into the garden beds, when there are more optimum weather conditions. Some seedlings like corn, beans, and peas don’t transplant well. These seeds should be sown right into the ground when weather allows; covering them with an old sheet whenever frost conditions are possible.

April is a great time, depending on your USDA planting zone, to start planting and growing perennial fruits and vegetables like asparagus, chives, rhubarb, raspberries, horseradish and more. I already have the first four in some of my gardens. My asparagus is usually the first to pop up, around late May.

This is also a good time to start “cold crop” gardening – annual plantings such as cabbage, spinach and other “greens”; as well as root vegetables like potatoes, onions, carrots and beets. Mom’s garden, in Algonac, had a lot of perennials, but I remember helping her plant seedlings for strawberries and tomatoes every spring when I was young.

Then there was the subsequent harvesting of our labors from the family’s little garden and orchard. I recall picking tomatoes, apples, pears, strawberries, raspberries and rhubarb. Mom would turn it all into culinary delights such as sauces, jams, pies, cobblers, and the like.


Many great things are being celebrated this month – as well as this week and each week, soon following – that are things Mom would’ve celebrated, too. Obviously, anything food related would’ve interested the Secret RecipesTM Detective but Mom also loved writing, crafting, and gardening – just to name a few – when time permitted.

By the way, being that it’s the first of the month, check out’s new Crafts tab today, where I’ll be sharing Mom’s crocheting shortcut development, for creating the traditional “granny squares” quicker. She used these squares to make things like sweaters, vests, hats, purses, and blankets.


April is the first full month of spring. Life is renewing throughout the flora and fauna realms. Trees are budding, flowers are popping, birds are nesting, hibernators are waking. It makes sense that it’s also officially the National Month of Hope.

Just as hope can be about any number of things – hope for prosperity and purpose, hope for peace and acceptance – any number of different things are said to represent hope (as well as April). It’s seen in various colors (primarily white and yellow), flowers (such as daisies – also white and yellow, by the way), birds (like white doves and yellow canaries), etc.



Additionally, April is National Humor Month. Mom and Dad, both, enjoyed many things and people that made them laugh. They both loved to make others laugh, as well; often being inspired by many the great comedians and humorists, of their generation.

It’s also National Couple Appreciation Month and there’s no couple for whom I am more grateful than my own parents. They taught me so many important things so that I could leave the nest and become a positive contributor to society. I’ll always be thankful, for them teaching me the ethics of working hard, being honesty, and appreciating what I have.


In honor of TODAY, being National Sourdough Bread Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for “Herman – The Sourdough Starter”, plus “The Replacement Recipe”, plus using the starter to make “Sourdough Biscuits”; as seen in her self-published cookbook, Make Alike Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1991, p. 11). That’s a three-in-one special!


P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…


April observes, among other things… National Fresh Celery Month, National Soft Pretzel Month, National Soy Foods Month, National Poetry Month, National Pecan Month, National Volunteer Month, Scottish-American Heritage Month, and National Stress Awareness Month.

This week celebrates… National Wildlife Week (April 1st-5th for 2024). [NOTE: The national DAY observance is Sep. 1st (for 2024).]

Today is also… April Fool’s Day and National One Cent Day.

Tomorrow is… National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day.

April 3rd is… National Chocolate Mousse Day. Plus, as the first Wednesday in April (for 2024), it’s also… National Walking Day.

April 4th is… National Chicken Cordon Bleu Day, National Hug a Newsperson Day, National School Librarian Day, and National Vitamin C Day. Plus, as the first Thursday in April (for 2024), it’s also… National Burrito Day.

Friday, April 5th, is… Gold Star Spouses Day, National Caramel Day, National Deep Dish Pizza Day, National Nebraska Day, National Raisin and Spice Bar Day, and National Read a Road Map Day. NOTE: It’s also the anniversary of Mom’s SECOND appearance on the Phil Donahue show (1993).

April 6th is… National Hostess Twinkie Day, National Caramel Popcorn Day, New Beer’s Eve, and National Teflon Day. Plus, as the first Saturday in April (for 2024), it’s also…  National Love Our Children Day, National Play Outside Day, and National Handmade Day.



April 7th is… National Beer Day, National Coffee Cake Day, and National No Housework Day. It’s also the start of National Wildlife Week. [NOTE: The national DAY observance is Sep. 1st (for 2024).]


…14 down, 38 more to go!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.