Hello growistas, and happy Friday!

Welcome back to the Good To Grow site, and thanks for being here.

Welcome to Friday, the day we like to goof off around here. I’ll be revealing the answer to last week’s puzzler, doling out imaginary prizes, and unveiling a new puzzler for you. All that comes up after a brand new Panel of Experts.

Let’s get the action started by saying hi to the Experts. Hi Experts!


“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

Ya’ll are so cute! From left to right, that’s Andy Williams, Tim Thackaberry, EZ Ed Johnson, Dottie Correll and Lewis Casey. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

I don’t know about you, but this time of year, I get obsessed with gardening. I find myself thinking about what I want to grow, when I’m going to plant, what meals I’ll make with the food that I grow.

I also spend a lot of time thinking about the changing seasons and how I want to grow in my life in the coming months. How will I grow? How will I change? How can I become a better person? A better gardener? A better writer?

It’s only February, but it seems to be an appropriate time to be thinking like this.

I decided to ask my Experts about what they are planning to grow – be it gardens, their careers, their personal goals. Here’s the question, followed by their answers:

Q. What are you going to grow this season?

Let’s take a look at their answers, starting with Expert Andy:

A. I’m already off to a fast start by planting my garden full of radishes, turnips, lettuce, okra, snow peas, and zucchini.  I’m going to supplement that with tomatoes and hot peppers in the coming weeks as the temperature starts its meteoric climb from 65 to 105 in a little over 3 months.  It has been a cold winter here in AZ, with temperatures operating below freezing for 20 or so nights this Winter.  I fully admit that I’ve become a Winter Wimp, but hey, it’s cold to us.  I certainly look forward to April and May when the temperature settles in perfectly with cool nights and warmer days.  Then, about the time the Indy 500 hits and I return from Indy, I can expect 100+ every day for about 120 straight days.  Spring is coming ya’ll, and for those of you in the frozen tundra around the country, hang on, you’ve almost made it!

A. This season, I plan to grow my career as much as possible. I’ve been in the same job (one that I enjoy very much) for about10 years, it’s well past time for a change. It’s just very difficult to leave a comfortable situation, you know? But growth requires leaving your comfort zone…

A. I’ll try to grow a bit more patient, try to grow a little kinder. Maybe I will eat lots of ice cream and apple crisp pie and grow fat and happy Maybe I will walk for miles and exercise and grow healthier. I’ll try to grow some flowers, grow some writing ideas. Mostly I’ll just grow a little older and that’s plenty right now.

We are building a raised garden plot and will soon plant it with lovely vegetables of many varieties!!  However, we have not received our BURPEE’S CATALOGUE!!!  HORRORS!  So our planning has come to a sudden halt! Meanwhile, I want to discuss the duping of the American public re: Valentine’s Day!!!!  (Can you tell I have only my Kerry Blue Terrier to smother me with kisses and to share his kibble for my romantic Valentine dinner?” )

Starry-eyed romantics and red-rose haters alike can look to one source for their respective love or cynicism every February 14: St. Valentine.  Though everyone knows the name, much less is known about the man–to wit, he may not even have been just one figure.  Historical details are murky-to say the least -, and the prevailing theory is that one or multiple Valentines existed and may have be conflated –(don’t you love that word—conflated?  Never mind –I’m such a word groupie) over the years.

1.  One Valentine was a Roman priest and doctor who         
    was persecuted by the emperor Claudius II for          
    marrying Christian couples.  Claudius took a liking to
    Valentine But Valentine overstepped his bounds when
     He tried to convert the emperor, and Claudius
     Sentenced him to death – and an ugly death at that.  
    Lore suggests he was beaten, stoned, and finally
    (Think of that as you toast your beloved with bubbly.)

2.  Some accounts state that this priest had fallen in love
     with the blind daughter of his jailer, and signed a
    letter that he wrote to her, “from your Valentine”.
    Another tale says that after his brutal death, he
    Performed the miracle of restoring the sight of his
    Jailer’s daughter.
    (Put that in your pipe and smoke it-the same stuff
     they were puffing)

3.  There is another Valentine who appears in early
     martyrologies: a bishop of Terni, Italy, who was also
     allegedly persecuted in Rome.  It’s been proposed that
     this man was one and the same as the Valentine
     executed by Claudius.  (Who knew?)

4.  St. Valentine was said to be interred north of Rome on  
     February 14th, though this date may mark his death
     Instead of his burial. (Huh?  Which Valentine?)

5.  The feast of St. Valentine was established by Pope
     Gelasius I in 496.  Some say that Valentine’s feast day
     Is celebrated in February because the church wanted
     To Christianize an ancient Roman pagan festival
     Called Lupercalia, which centered around fertility and
     Purification, and also took place in February.  (The
     Fertility worked —the purification – ah not so much)

6.  Valentine’s feast day has been celebrated as a lovers’
      holiday and a day of romance since the 14th century,
      when the date was thought to be the beginning of the
      mating season for “Birds”.  (Huh?  Are we humans
      romantic or really the most gullible creatures on

Oh well , I suppose it is nice to have a day where “Everybody loves Everybody” and asks the scary question:
Will you be my VALENTINE?
Or maybe thine or mine
Is a better line
Being Valentine could be a crime!


A. (Expert Lewis is taking a break. Our guest Expert is his esteemed friend Patrick Murphy, who told us this story a few weeks ago.)

The day was Cinco de Mayo, the place Albuquerque, it was 1991 and I was 23, along with 2 childhood friends. Thinking about it now, I guess the three of us were still boys but we were soon to become men. The day was full of frolic. We gathered with others in the Plaza located downtown. Cervezas was the drink of choice before heading over to the old bar located next to the El Rey Theatre. Yes, you know, the old red interior bar that had been in operation since Teddy took the Nation’s highest office.
We each danced with the owner, a lively octogenarian wearing red lip stick. We joked that she looked like Marge Schott, the Cincinnati Reds baseball team owner. We laughed, danced and just had a good time through the late afternoon.
“Time to head out guys,” I chimed since it was decided that since I had a few days off from my job at Kinko’s Copy Center on Juan Tabo NE, that we would drive back to Window Rock, Arizona – the town where just ten years prior, donned little league baseball uniforms and played for the Window Rock Expos. We went back to my apartment to pack up our stuff and eat some quesadillas before hitting the road west. The weather was fair and warm, skies clear.
It must have been about 7 pm when we headed downhill to Interstate 40, in my large, 1977 Buick Electra. I was proud of this car since it drove smooth on the bumpy roads of the Duke City and there was plenty of trunk space. I grew up listening to Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and was a purist when it came to American technology. We were driving past Laguna Pueblo and there was constant conversation among me, Marty and Tommy.
We were almost like brothers, well, Marty and Tommy were brothers. As we were rounding the bend headed towards Grants, I noticed that a car was fast approaching with bright lights. I remember thinking, “oh great, a tailgater.” I pull off the next exit because the bright lights were annoying me. Besides, I had to take a leak. instead of stopping in at the Stuckey’s, I drive south on the highway towards “the narrows.” I think the conservation area is called “El Malpais” today, a large area of land covered in basalt. The Navajos had a legend that said the lava was actually the dried blood of a giant who had been slayed, spilling his blood across the land.
We all stepped out of the car after I pulled over. There was no one else on the highway, just us. The night was dark, I don’t remember a moon at all. “What’s that?” Marty asked. We looked up and noticed a bright light slowing down to take a look at us! Helicopter? Hmm I didn’t hear a sound. The next thing that happened was the white light shot off to the northeast! We all asked, “did you see that?” We jump into the car and that’s all I remember. The next memory I have is we are driving on a remote highway at 9 am southwest of where we were the night before. I’m driving and I see a sign “Fence Lake.” I pull over and the boys are still asleep. I tell them to wake up and ask where we are. They wake up both holding their heads asking, “what did we do last night?” I was more concerned to ask where we were! It turns out that it took us all night to drive 60 – 70 miles on New Mexico 117 at 11-12 hours. My gas tank was on E for empty. We each felt confused. And most importantly, we each didn’t want to talk about the night. Luckily, there was a store with a gas pump in Fence Lake. I don’t know why I’m saying “in” because it really isn’t much of a town, but just an intersection of lonely highway in western New Mexico, not far from St. Johns, Arizona. We get a few gallons of gas and head north toward Zuni Pueblo and the Zuni Mountains. The Zuni Mountains are known for having strange lights at night. There have been instances of some people disappearing. One boy on a hunting trip, got out of his tent late at night and disappeared. They saw his foot prints and they just ended behind a tree. He has never been seen since.
About the three of us, we never hung out with each other again after that night! Maybe 10 years later, I saw Marty. We were among friends at a party and somebody mentioned UFOs. He looked at me and said, “they don’t want to hear what happened to us.” I would like to return to the area and take a look around the land of El Malpais. But first, I’d like to get hypnotized to find out what happened during that missing time back in 1991, Cinco de Mayo.
-Pat Murphy

Wow! Great story, guest Expert Pat! And Dottie, your research on Valentine is awesome – I didn’t know any of those legends. That’s really cool.

I enjoyed everyone’s response this week! It sounds like you all have interesting months ahead. I look forward to hearing more about your growth!

Thank you so much for being here, Experts. I appreciate your time and effort – you rock!

That does it for our Experts Panel. The Experts will return in exactly one week.

Let’s move on to the current puzzler.

???Real or Fake???

Last week, I asked if this plant was real or fake:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

Let’s see how you answered:

Ivynettle from Letters and Leaves wrote, “Aaaand, once again – fake! And first!”

Alissa wrote, “fake”

Martha from Plowing Through Life wrote, “Oh yeah…fake!”

Steph from Indianapolis wrote, “Andy thanks for reminding me about High School Valentine’s Day! I never actually got any messages, but it was so much fun to see what people wrote…lot’s of breakups that week! Liza, that plant is fugly fake! xoxo, be mine, and all that! mwwaa”

Tom from the Midwestern Jungle wrote, “Fake fake fake senora”

Tina wrote, “Oh so bad. Fake fake triple fake. The dust on it must be #*?:/+!!!?/)…..I can even feel the rough texture of the leaves. Poor attempt to decorate. You have to laugh.”

Claude from Random Rants and Prickly Plants wrote, “Fake. and btw… check out the appalling things someone did to a pour unsuspecting cactus on my blog. i almost sent the pix to you for your real or fake challenge…”

That’s seven votes fake, zero votes real.

What’s the correct answer? Let’s take a closer look:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

Fake! Sorry about the photo – I took it with my phone and it doesn’t really emphasize the fakeness. If you could see it in real life, you’d see that it’s bland and dusty. Fake plants simply can’t match the beauty of actual living breathing plants. Sure, they can provide a splash of color, but they almost always end up dusty and unattractive.

Ivy, look at you, whizkid! Three wins in a row! Good job! For being so speedy, you’ve earned the title of “I’m Once, Twice, Three Times a Champion of the Houseplant Blog Universe and Beyond!” Congratulations! You may multiply all the prizes by two jelly donuts.

Everyone was a winner this week – well played! I’d like to show you my appreciation for playing by awarding you the following prizes: Two growth spurts, four garden moments, 12 1/2 bonus points, one pretzel necklace, three extra February days, a pinkie finger, six growing joys, three singing chimpanzees, 13 bragging rights, one coupon good for a garden voucher, and milk. Congratulations!

Up next, the new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Extra silly this week because I felt like it. Is this cactus real or fake?

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

Think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section or on my facebook wall. You have until midnight next Thursday, February 21st, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) after next week’s panel of Experts. Remember, the prizes may be imaginary but the link to your site and the glory of winning are oh-so-real.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day post, hope to see you back here.