Archive for August, 2017

The Summer Garden Is Done, What’s Next?

Author: Meera, August 22, 2017

My summer garden is wild and chaotic and bountiful at the beginning of the season. You’ll find fruit trees, vegetables, vines of melons, corn, and perennial lavender and other showy herbs and flowers. Like a grand dame of faded elegance, the garden has matured and looks a bit weary and spent now that Labor Day approaches.


Just because the peak growing season is coming to an end, it’s not the end of garden chores. The following tasks can be started now.





Harvested pumpkins and heirloom butternut squash symbolize the arrival of autumn

Heirloom butternut squash and sugar pumpkins


For some crops, the harvesting goes on. Examples include tomatoes, potatoes, melons, and winter squashes like Butternut that store well. If you haven’t already harvested the garlic, it’s a good time to do that.




Cut sunflower seed heads and place them in a warm area to dry.  Collect seeds from cosmos, nasturtiums, and other flowers to preserve for next year’s garden. Work out storage options, especially for food items to be harvested.



Snip summer table grapes and other varieties if they are ripe . . . or let them hang a while longer for extra sweetness.


Our grapes are Thompson Seedless and Merlot

These Merlot grapes will turn deep purple and taste quite sweet when ripe




Depleted, dying, or dried annuals can be dug, pulled, and composted now. If you plan to let the garden rest, plant a cover crop so the ground doesn’t become hard scrabble. The cover crop will feed the soil.




If you intend to do a fall planting, take time now to enrich the earth with amendments. Turn and rake the garden soil. Put plants directly into the prepared earth and water well to get them off to a good start.




lettuce and peas and onions are already ready for our table

Lettuce and other greens  are easily grown in raised beds



For quick second crop before the weather turns cold, plant greens such as spinach, kale, and arugula. Cool season crops like beets, broccoli, and cabbage can go directly into the ground now, too.




Cut flower heads of hydrangeas for drying. Insert plant markers near peonies and other perennials that will die completely back during winter. Gather bunches of mint and other herbs, tie with string, an hang in a cool, dark place to dry.




Designate an area to create a new compost pile. Use garden detritus and fall leaves as the trees begin to drop their canopies to enter winter dormancy. The resulting mulch will enrich the soil for next year’s garden.



Store onions in burlap bags; pomegranates

Store onions in burlap bags; pomegranates keep in the refrigerator for up a month




Pomegranates, persimmons, and pumpkins will soon be ripening. Ensure that these plants continue to get water. Check for pests and any signs that might indicate nutrient deficiencies that could show up in the leaves. Figure out your options for storing or gifting excess fruits and veggies. For example, pomegranates keep well in the fridge or remove the seeds and put into bags for freezing. Save  and dry rinds for potpourri.




Aerate and amend soil in grow boxes and raised beds for cool season crops. Do these chores before the rainy season and cool weather arrives. Your garden, like a young maiden who flourishes from attention, will produce bountiful vegetables, fruits, berries, and flowers during its next growing season.







If you enjoy reading about farmette topics, gardening, and keeping chickens and honeybees, check out my series of cozy mysteries from Kensington Publishing in New York.



Click on this link:



The newest offering in the Henny Penny Farmette of cozy mysteries

The newest offering in the Henny Penny Farmette of cozy mysteries






My newest nonfiction book  is published by Adams Media/Simon & Schuster:


Anyone can find peace, clarity, and focus...all it takes is a moment

Anyone can find peace, clarity, and focus…all it takes is a moment


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Peace and Serenity . . . Just When You Need It

Author: Meera, August 12, 2017

The mailman caught me by surprise yesterday. Standing and smiling at my gate, he hoisted up a box and balanced it on the wrought iron. I stopped painting the trellis supporting the bougainvillea clambering up the side of the house. I put the lid on the paint, laid aside my brush, and trotted over.



I actually welcomed a break; I’d been feeling a little stressed from the heat and wasp activity around a nest I’d pried from the porch ceiling. Opening the box, I examined the contents.



Cover of my new book (to be released Aug. 8, 2017)

Cover of my just-released book



Tucked inside were copies of my new book from Adams Media/Simon & Schuster. The first thing I noticed was the silky-soft, lovely lavender cover. Like a cherished devotional book, the size of MY POCKET MEDITATIONS is just right . . . it will fit into almost any purse, briefcase, or lunch bag.



There’s a handy little elastic page marker, too, to indicate where you left off reading or to easily find a favorite guided meditation. Nice touch. I made a mental note to thank the design team.



Thumbing through the opening text on meditation, I smiled as I recalled having to restrain myself during the writing of the book. I’d been tempted to include aspects of my personal journey into meditation. However, I had kept the opening simple. Here, though, a glimpse of my background might be appropriate.



In my early twenties, I made a trip alone to India where I learned about meditation through intense practice–many hours each day under the tutelage of a holy man, who had a follower who spoke English. By then, I’d left Missouri farm life and college to live for a time in Hollywood (actually, I rented a place not far from the Self Realization Fellowship temple that was established in 1942 by the Indian saint Paramahansa Yogananda).



The hospital where I worked was within walking distance of my home and took me right by the temple. I liked walking past that quiet temple–an oasis in the bustling city–but otherwise, for a country girl like me, Hollywood in myriad ways was a culture shock.



A year later, I moved to Northern California and began a new job with a large county hospital, put down new roots, and made new friends. I joined a meditation group where I met someone who had recently returned from India. Seeing his pictures of that country and of a holy man he’d met ignited a spark  of longing in me to go there. I wanted to see firsthand that land of intense colors, ancient architecture, cultural and religious diversity, and to meet that saintly person.



Within six months, I booked my trip. As lost as I felt in the city of Mumbai (formerly, Bombay) teeming with people, I found myself right at home in Gujarat (not a coastal town like Porbandar where Mohandas Gandhi was born but rather) in a farming village. There I learned meditation from the elderly Indian whom many locals considered an enlightened master of Kundalini Maha Yoga.



My yearning for spiritual awakening and evolution perhaps will resonate with others who similarly share a desire for self-exploration, whether their journey takes them out into our incredible world of diverse people, beliefs, and cultures or inward to the quiet places of the Self.



Meditation helps you focus, gain clarity, and generates many health benefits, too. Believing as I do that what blesses one blesses all, it is my sincerest desire for you to use this little book as a tool to find peace and serenity in your life.


To see more, click here:




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Growing Blueberries in the Bay Area

Author: Meera, August 4, 2017

My Henny Penny Farmette is not far removed from ranch land populated by cows and dotted with towering oaks and pines. In the blistering heat of summer, the surrounding hills and canyons support little more than star thistle and wild grass that dries to become the perfect tinder for wildfires. Until recently, I doubted I could ever successfully grow blueberries that need the moist, acidic soils, more common to the Northeast and deep South.



Luscious blueberries--a great source of antioxidants, Vitamin C, and fiber

Luscious blueberries–a great source of antioxidants, Vitamin C, and fiber




However, after reading the University of California paper on growing blueberries here in the West, especially in the nearby Central Valley and also the Santa Clara Valley, I decided to try a couple of plants. See,



I chose to grow Sharpblue (a southern highbush type of blueberry). These plants have beautiful blue-green foliage and a compact growing habit. When they reach their full height, they will stand 6-8 feet high and 4-6 feet wide. The plants are self-fertile.



This plant produces both flowers and fruit throughout most of the year; the fruit can be picked from midsummer through the fall. To my surprise, the plant bore fruit this year.
Northern lowbush blueberries grow well in northern U.S. states and in Canada where moist soil and long hours of winter chilling fulfill the plant’s growing requirements.



For best results in the Bay Area, choose highbush blueberries such as the following: Sharpblue, Sunshine Blue, Bluecrop, Blueray, Ozark Blue, Georgia Gem, Misty, Reveille, Cape Fear, and O’Neal. Plant them in acid soil that drains well and is porous.



They may also be planted in containers on patios but require plenty of water and six hours of sun. In the hottest areas, provide part sun/shade.



Highbush types of bluberries produce throughout the summer into fall

These highbush “Sharpblue” berries produce throughout the summer into fall




Blueberries taste great in pancakes, muffins, strudels, and coffee cakes. They’re delicious in jams or stirred into yogurt (my favorite). Just a single cup of this low-cal fruit is packed with Vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. Freeze extra berries to enjoy later.



Try making this taste-pleasing recipe posted online at for Blueberry Nectarine Granola Crisp. See, 





If you enjoy reading about farmette topics, gardening, and keeping chickens and honeybees, check out my series of cozy mysteries from Kensington Publishing in New York.



Click on this link:



Murders at a N. California winery is a catalyst for ex-cop turned farmette owner Abigail Mackenzie

Murders at a N. California winery is a catalyst for ex-cop turned farmette owner Abigail Mackenzie





Click on this link to see The MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE: Click on this link:


The second novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series comes out September 27, 2016

The second novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series




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