justKim.com: Blog https://www.justkim.com/blog en-us (C) justKim.com [email protected] (justKim.com) Sun, 29 Oct 2023 15:43:00 GMT Sun, 29 Oct 2023 15:43:00 GMT https://www.justkim.com/img/s/v-12/u145429600-o95099750-50.jpg justKim.com: Blog https://www.justkim.com/blog 120 106 My Beautiful Mess https://www.justkim.com/blog/2023/1/my-beautiful-mess So here's the thing. I keep putting off publishing pics of my garden. Why? Because it's messy. Because it's unkempt and it's overgrown and because I have not been properly maintaining it and if I show you pics you'll know! BUT HERE'S THE SCOOP!! Life is messy. Life is unkempt and overgrown and we all have bits and pieces that we're not maintaining. and it's okay. it's all really okay. Because the mess is where the tiny miracles thrive. The mess is where the beauty happens. 

so I have the very great privilege of belonging to this elite group of peoples -these wonderful, lovely and gardeny & buggy-minded peoples - the Master Gardeners. (Truly, if you're a gardener you need to seek out your local MG group. It's a fantastic thing!!!) And so I get to go and help and play and take pictures at the Teaching Garden!! - where I get some of my most very favorite pics. :0D And I come home and I then don't tend take many pictures here at home. Why?  Not good enough. Too many weeds. Wrong plants-wrong places. And, advice from one of my very first MG classes, "if you've got BermudaGrass, MOVE!" LOL I am overwhelmed by the list of tasks that confronts me. And as many to-do-lists as I can create, (I have a pile), I cannot seem to move forward. "Procrastination" is a joke. Because the magnitude to which i procrastinate sometimes looks more like stagnation. 

I have so many things that I want to tell you! So much that I'd love to share! But - then I'm terrified that you'll judge me harshly. You'll see all the weeds and problems and projects left undone. And so WHY WOULD I PUT MYSELF OUT THERE? And that's where I've been living for quite some time. 

But the beauty is in the vulnerability. The beauty is in the fragility. Because it's me. My garden. My world. My life. And it is beautiful for exactly what it is. Or isn't!  So I'm working on putting it out there. I have a way i do things. Lots of times it's not the "right" way - because I think i've got a shortcut or an "easier" way... Maybe my mistakes (numerous as they are!!!) are worth sharing! Maybe you'll learn something about gardening! Or maybe, like me, through gardening, you'll learn something more about yourself.

This is my beautiful mess. :0)  Welcome. Poke around. Please be nice. 



[email protected] (justKim.com) beautiful enough garden health mental mess https://www.justkim.com/blog/2023/1/my-beautiful-mess Sun, 29 Jan 2023 19:55:00 GMT
My Garden is Trying to Eat Me!!! https://www.justkim.com/blog/2023/1/my-garden-is-trying-to-eat-me Ok so here comes a BIG LOAD of truth that y'all never asked for - and please do not judge my weeds too harshly! In the beginning, those first few years after we'd purchased the property, I was learning SO SO much about native plants, (Thx Jannell!!). We have a rule for weeding in the Natives Bed at the Teaching Garden: If you don't know what it is, let it grow! So my focus was identifying what I saw around me and how&where it grew and introducing as many native plants as I could. (I really do love a good before and after sequence, don't you???)

So here's Mom, standing in the middle of the yard where my vegetable garden will go. We had just bought the property. It was 2015.

Greenville Gardens, BEFORE PICGreenville Gardens, BEFORE PICFrom the road toward the house THIS is where the garden will go! Greenville Gardens, BEFORE PICGreenville Gardens, BEFORE PICFrom the house toward the road

      --> Here's my little side-quest tip about vegetable garden placement: WHEN YOU'RE LOOKING TO START A VEGETABLE GARDEN, LOOK FOR THE SUN FIRST. That's it. Seems reasonable, yes? But most everyone, it seems, wants to stick a veggie garden in the back corner where it won't look - well, like a veggie garden in the front yard! But THIS is where my sun is! I have a lot of troubles with my veggies - but enough sun is NOT one of them!). :0)

So here's what things looked like when the raised beds got installed, (left pic). I used untreated furring strips to build, knowing that they'd rot in a few years but feeling like I'd have better ideas by the time that happened. WELL. These days my raised beds have been ~80% taken over by Bermuda Grass. (another post on the wretched, ever-growing, impossible to kill Bermuda Grass here. Well. It'll be here once I write it. ;0))

But here are the fresh-built veggie beds vs their current state of affairs:


The Raised Beds: CLEARLY the furring strips have rotted. This was, actually, expected. What I did NOT plan for is 1)the Bermuda grass that i thought i'd dealt with well-before we got here. and 2) the absolute abandonment of my veg garden /weeding goals with sudden onset of a deep depression. (it happens. more about that later...when we know each other better!) But the few weeks of neglect was a substantial force in the outcome of this bed. Neglect, depression, Bermuda Grass. Baaaaad combo. HOWEVER!!! THIS BIRDHOUSE remained active through the season! And the Milkweed that popped up in this "bed" (I think "mass" might work better than "bed" at this point), created a patch that found many Monarchs happy, fed, and reproducing this past season. Nature will be ok. It's the HOA that's gonna get pissed. ;0)


B/C THIS WAS A LOT OF FUN LAST FALL. Not sure how effective it was, but it sure-as-hell felt pretty dam groovy. (random left-turn. go with it.)

The Black Locust Corner:

I was SO excited and got to planting right away! (we're back in 2015 now). I started (my first big-girl-gardeny decision!!!) by moving a big Black Locust from its' volunteer position beside the driveway to the far corner of the property -- to begin/anchor my screen-from-the-road. I was so proud. I had identified a fast-growing native tree, already on the property, that I could transplant to serve a very specific purpose! FREE TREE!! (This made the hubby very happy!!) And yet this was both good AND bad, as I've found. LOL As I've found it is with most things! Yes, it's a native tree. Yes, it's fast growing! As priority was a screen from the road, it hit all the right buttons. Now it's big and happy - and reproducing at a fantastic rate. The Black Locust spreads underground and creates little thickets. On this particular corner, it has merged with my (also native!) blackberries to create quite the thorny barrier! An incredibly effective deterrent to the eventual zombie invaders from the south!! ROFL!


Black Locust suckersBlack Locust suckers Look at the barbs on this guy!!!Black Locust twigOUCH!!

My garden has been overtaken. By a Black Locust Tree. By Bermuda Grass, by Bittersweet Vines&Stiltgrass ohmy! By a thousand tiny battles that I might never even notice muchless get around to fixing. But it's okay.

Because here's the thing: My plants are still there, waiting for me to return. MOST of the plants - they KNOW what to do. They've evolved to do this! My garden does not need me to live, it just needs me to thrive. While the plant will do better when the surrounding weeds are removed, their presence doesn't mean certain death either!

This beautiful mess is always functional. Always evolving. My garden. My head. My life. We're in it together. :0)

And so on it goes!!! 2023 gonna be my best gardening year yet. :0)

And everything's just all going to be alright. :0)


peace n chicken grease, myfriends. ;0)


[email protected] (justKim.com) garden natives overwhelm truth https://www.justkim.com/blog/2023/1/my-garden-is-trying-to-eat-me Sun, 29 Jan 2023 19:48:57 GMT
of Milkweed&Monarchs https://www.justkim.com/blog/2022/7/of-milkweed-monarchs  


omg. just where do i even start. pictures, kim. always start with pictures. :0)

so ive always had this love for nature. a respect, an admiration - and a severe fascination. When i began really learning about the Monarch Butterfly (beyond the basic love and butterly-chasing behavior y’all know and love me for…), it was mostly because I was a brand new Master Gardener and our Teaching Garden is a Monarch Waystation, home to SOMUCH milkweed for the butterflies to munch!! And protected from nasties like lawn chemicals and pesticides that alter the natural balance.  In the beginning I learned mostly about the Monarch butterfly's reliance on the milkweed plant. This is so cool - See, the milkweed is the ONLY PLANT that the tiny Monarch caterpillars recognize as food. A relationship thousands of years old tells that itty bitty caterpillar that this plant is food but that plant is not. That little guy KNOWS this on a VERY deep level. It's that milky substance that the plant leaks - it provides sustenance and strength and even toxicity!! If the Monarch caterpillar cannot find Milkweed, (there are a dozen(ish) native/naturally occurring milkweed species in Virginia), he will starve looking for it. AND SO - guess what plant those adult Monarch butterflies are searching for to feed those babies? MILKWEED!!! 


  of Milkweed&Monarchs

But will they lay eggs on other plants? yes. yes whey will. especially when the plant is so very good at providing an easy source of nectar. (Enter Butterfly Bush, into the equation) (a.k.a. WhyWeHateButterflyBush). My local stripmall has butterfly bushes planted numerously on islands around their parking lot. They attract local butterflies by the hundreds and it's really beautiful. But those caterpillars will be born on tiny concrete islands completely void of their only means of survival. :0(  (yes. i know. that makes my heart hurt too.)

Here's some lovely Monarchs frequenting a Butterfly Bush in our Teaching Garden. Now here we don't worry so much about the Butterfly Bush itself because those caterpillars are surrounded by their needed milkweed.

Monarchs on ButterflyBush

Monarchs on Butterfly Bush



So here's the thing about the milkweed plant, my gardenerloves, it does not look pretty 100% of the time! But when you start to understand the intricate workings of the most common visitors, you'll see the little ecosystem that works in perfect balance for the health and wellbeing of the species that represents, imho, the pinacle of the project. IF THE ENDOFTHESEASON BOTHERS YOU, CUT IT BACK! Don't let it deter you from hosting this lovely plant, just cut it back when it becomes unsightly. 


and haveyoueverseen a Monarch chrysallis? these lovely hidden, jewel encrusted miracles of nature! they've got to be one of the most ornate and exquisite products of nature that i've ever laid eyes on. They're these bright green lit treasures when they're fresh. Literally with a little beaded gold trim. :0) As the Monarch inside gets closer to completion of its' metamorphosis' completion, the chrysallis itself becomes more transparent and you can see the bold black lines of the wings showing through.  The explosion and reconfiguraition of a freshly hatched Monarch is really an amazing thing to watch. I had that distinct pleasure in my second year as a Master Gardener. (that's a whole 'nother post. But I got pics to show u!!)  :0D


If you don't think Monarchs are aMAZING yet - let's talk about MIGRATION!

The Monarch cycle is not a cycle of individuals. It's a cycle of generations. Knowledge passed down genetically includes information on what route and which direction to fly and when to mate and when to not. In Virginia, we get to see the 5th or 6th, the final generation of Monarchs. The butterflies that are born here are born larger and with that knowledge of HOW TO GET TO MEXICO!!! (I mean WOW!!! right?!) These butterflies, this generation, will live 5-6 months, as opposed to other generations who only live a few weeks. THIS generation doesn't mature sexually until after their migration and hibernation. They will arrive in Mexico on or about The Day of the Dead, an ancient cultural celebration of ancestry and hope and renewal and love. Home again, a home that they're never been to before!, thousands of Monarchs will nestle in the ornamental fir trees. Here they'll hibernate together for the next 6-8 months. Then, in February/March, the whole cycle will begin again. 



Aphids!!! First of all, if the milkweed plant doesn't have those tiny bright golden aphids, i'm probably gonna secondguess the identification of the plant! The Oleander Aphid, (Aphis nerii), isn't native to North America but it appears (apparently) out of thin air!! I mean, Where do they all come from?! The GOOD news is that, apart from also wanting to feed on the milkweed plants, they do no harm to the Monarchs. Their hostplant, Oleander, is a member of the Dogbane family and grows primarily in the south/west portions of North America. Here in Virginia, they love Milkweed! Theyre not a food source for monarchs, but coexist as long as their numbers don't become to great. The best way i've found to deal with them is a good blast with the garden hose. The occasional spray will keep their numbers at manageable levels while the monarchs munch what they need!


The Monarch Butterfly has become a very important symbol in my life. A symbol of hope. of strength. and of real transformation. Those little butterflies face birds and smog and traffic and pesticides and Asian Praying mantises by the thousands. This butterfly overcomes. It transforms and grows with enough sense to trust the process. May we all know that lesson.

Trust the process. One day you'll fly. 




Peace & chicken grease my gardenloves!!!







And then there's the Milkweed Beetle that show up for the aphids. 

[email protected] (justKim.com) butterfly garden milkweed monarch https://www.justkim.com/blog/2022/7/of-milkweed-monarchs Tue, 26 Jul 2022 18:47:31 GMT
me. https://www.justkim.com/blog/2022/7/me So, officially, Hi.

I’m Kim. not Kimberly, not Kimmer, NEVER Kimmy, justKim. (did ya see what I did there? Lol!) It’s always been like that with only a few minor exceptions: kids under 5 and friendships of more than 20 years. I’ve a native of Charlottesville, VA, did a 5 year stint at Virginia Tech, (got my B.S. in psychology/sociology with a minor in philosophy), and a current resident of Haymarket, Virginia. That’s me, justKim. Like Popeye, I am what I am. Always have been. You’re here to see if I’m your cuppa tea. If not, no hard feelings, I'll wish you well on your way! But if you’re a fan of justKim doing justkim stuff, hang around and see what happens with me! I’m really thinking this might be fun. :0)

Okay so let’s be brutally honest – as you’re reading this you’ll need to know a few things up front. First off, you’ve probably noticed, I use WAY too many smiley-emoji-ticon-whatevers. I really don’t know why. Honestly, don’t care too much either. I am, generally speaking, a happy type person and lots of times I want you to know I’m smiling! :0) or I’m being terribly cute ;0) or I’m super excited :0D or WOW 80D. My smileys - most aren't even the good ones!!!! They’re the old texting faces before smart phones brought us the adorable emojis for every situation.

Second, I seem to be selective about the grammar rules that I use. Capitalizations, many times, don’t seem to fit with my mood – I know, pretty weird – but still true! Annnd I sometimes make up words because I’m pretty sure you heard what I meant. Sometimes “beautiful” just doesn’t cut the mustard. It WAS the “BEAUTIFULLEST!!!!” On the other hand, if you mis-use "your/you’re" than you are seriously just dead to me. Seriously.

Annnnnd I’m occasionally going to clue you in on the inflections in my head. Did you read that last “seriously” in a highschool-valley-girl voice? You totally should have. Like, totally. (see – you got it that time, right?)

Oh you also needs to know that I am absolutely not perfect (FAR from it), nor will I ever pretend to be. That's both a promise and a threat - cuz it's just too hard to pretend. Who needs the pressure! So please don't judge me when my garden is overgrown (my beautiful mess!) and I'm behind in my weeding - or when you see dirty dishes in the background of my seedling shots, (my greenhouse doubles as my kitchen!), or when I have to share that amazing picture - but it didn't come out tack sharp - cause sometimes shit happens, but it's still worth sharing. :0)

Ok. I think that pretty much covers it. 

Wait. AKA "Dandy," "Kimothy," & that "BadassBohemianBarefootBitch!" :0D  i'll add more nicknames as they emerge. But whatever you want to call me,

i'm justKim. ;0) 






[email protected] (justKim.com) https://www.justkim.com/blog/2022/7/me Fri, 08 Jul 2022 21:57:09 GMT
from last spring...lol!!! https://www.justkim.com/blog/2022/7/welcome (ok so i wrote this last spring...2021 i think. but i hadn't started publishing stuff yet...but i read it and i remember the spring excitement and i hope it brings you a smile today too.)

It’s springtime in the garden and my soul takes this massive sigh of relief.

How can I possibly explain this to those who don’t feel, about the garden, as I do? My excitement is through the roof as I walk around and see all the possibilities that springtime brings. And there's this massive creative force and then comes the organization and the planning and then this surge of productive energy!  It happens every spring. It does.

But this spring, especially.

and I want to go get the veggies in the ground and start some flowers and build new beds and prune the trees and it’s all gonna be just the beautifullest beautiful garden that you ever did see and I want to do it all right NOW!!!  Because THIS is going to be the best gardening year EVER!!! This is the year that I’m going to watch my calendar and stick to my fertilization schedule! And I will never forget to water and my veggies will all behave themselves and not outgrow their cages and THIS year I’ll stay on top of the weeds and the squash bugs and I will NOT concede my zucchini harvest to their numbers (I'm sooo much bigger than they are!!!! HOW do they always WIN?!?!) It’s all very overwhelming. And I love it so much!

So I woke up on this one amazing Saturday and donned my little slip ons and grabbed a cuppa joe and went out to explore and plan the projects for the day. And 10 minutes later im on the ground, in the dirt, essentially still in my jammies and have left my coffee off somewhere by its' lonesome to chill in peace. And this is how my day goes! I forget to start with my stretches (bad back), I forget to eat breakfast, my caffeine supply is entirely subjugated by the crisp morning air and the dirt and the TINY TINY little purple and green things that are looking up at me with wide eyes through their protective leaf blanket, just watching and waiting. (good little plant! Waaaait a little longer!!!...) 


       I just have to tell someone about how amazing all this is!!!!!

And then I left my coffee next to the compost pile when i ran inside and started typing - ugh. cold coffee again! LOL!


[email protected] (justKim.com) https://www.justkim.com/blog/2022/7/welcome Fri, 08 Jul 2022 21:54:19 GMT
an introduction of sorts https://www.justkim.com/blog/2022/7/an-introduction-of-sorts Hello my name is kim and I am an alcoholic.

Oops, wrong meeting! (pause for laugh!)


Hi I'm justKim, I am...

  • a Master Gardener of Prince William County, VA, class of 2017.
  • a photographer, (www.justkim.com), so attracting native wildlife to my garden to thrive - and to be photographed IS my ultimate goal.
    • Native plants - more native plants to attract the native critters, of course! And attack / removal of the invasives that might threaten my little patch of soil.
  • a Mom to two beautiful, mostly grown, teenage boys. I also have a hunny and an Uncle Adam too. My boyz!!
  • Programs I love
    • MGPW Teaching Garden - where I work in the Natives Bed with some amazing and incredibly knowledgeable people. Working in the teaching garden was, when i started, and continues to be where I continue to learn the most. My happy place! :0)
    • Audubon at Home - certifying area properties in the Backyard Sanctuary program
    • Summer garden help and bees presentation at local pre-school
    • PWC Animal Shelter - I also help photographing and fostering for local animal advocacy groups.
  • Projects 
    • When I first started off as a Master Gardener I was completely focused on native perennials that I could bring to my yard. I was also vegetable gardening, seed starting, collecting any plant that anybody handed me and LOVING IT!
    • These days I'm chasing our native Carolina praying mantises and Monarch Butterflies and Leopard slugs with my camera, (EEEW!). But those are photography projects! In the garden, my interests have turned toward vermiculture, soil biology and composting strategies, as well as bee keeping and some aquaponics! Yes. That's right, I do tend to bounce around a lot. I'm justKim. nice to meet ya!! :0D
    • I have a bee hive! It's placed and setup and maybe ready for bees next spring, (2023).
    • Composting and vermiculture with a sidecar of soil biology: All life is built on basic natural processes and the very best thing i can bring to my garden are the beautiful things that are already here! Leave it alone. let it rot. Feed it to the living. :0) DerGAWD i love nature!!!

*up arrow*  That's me. My plan for introducing myself. My "who am I" for use at assorted meetings or gatherings or events when it might be necessary. Those types of situations absolutely terrify me. So I write down my name so I won't forget it. :0) But here's the funny thing - this is the first time I've said it "out loud." in its' entirety. So I had this thought. I've always considered my thoughts & junk more like incessant rambles inside my head because the stream just.never.stops. Anybody relate to that one?! They roll on (and on and on and on) without control or consideration. But there's some method to the madness in there - all the things i've learned about over the years - the plants and the weeds and the bugs and the soil - the genius of how they all play a part and work together - it's all just pretty incredible, dontcha think? And, for those who haven't met me, photography is my jam. It's my happy place and showing off the tiny beautiful things I find brings me such joy!!!! And I may bounce around from thing to thing but it's only cause there's so many beautiful things that I want to do! AND I'm super blessed with a beautiful place to bounce - so here we go!




[email protected] (justKim.com) https://www.justkim.com/blog/2022/7/an-introduction-of-sorts Fri, 08 Jul 2022 21:49:02 GMT
hi https://www.justkim.com/blog/2018/3/hi i'm workin' on it!


please come back soon. 





[email protected] (justKim.com) https://www.justkim.com/blog/2018/3/hi Sun, 25 Mar 2018 21:41:16 GMT