Wednesday, April 8, 2015

4th Annual Authors in Bloom Blog Hop

Dianne Venetta_AIB Logo_2015

Warm days, cool nights, and a riot of pastel blossoms are the siren’s song that lured me into the yard this past week to dig in the soil and breathe deep of its loamy scent. Freedom from winter’s imprisonment feels wonderful!

My gardening attempts have always been unending experiments to learn what works, what doesn’t. Years ago, my mother introduced me to Louise Riotte’s book, Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. The idea of grouping plants in a way that would attract beneficial insects which would combat “bad bugs” without the use of pesticides strongly appealed to me, as did the idea of harvesting two crops from the space traditionally allocated to one.

After experimenting with companion planting for several years now, I’ve begun to think of it as homeopathic medicine for the garden: not a fast cure, but something that works over time. Plus, I love the bright spots of color provided by the nasturtiums, tansy and marigolds blooming among my vegetables.

My favorite planting combination so far is strawberries and onions. Both crops thrive, and the onions that don’t get harvested for kitchen use bloom above the groundcover of strawberries, creating unique visual interest.

If you’ve tried companion planting, what is your favorite plant combination? If you’ve never tried companion planting, have you tried some other experimental or controversial gardening technique with good (or mixed) results? Do you have a favorite gardening reference book to share with us? Reply in the comments section below, and be sure to include an email address for entry in the grand prize drawing. The Authors in Bloom grand prize winner receives an e-reader of their choice (up to a $200 value). Second prize is a $25 gift card to an ebook retailer of winner’s choice. To be eligible for the grand prize drawing, visit and comment (include an email address) on each participating blog hop "Authors in Bloom" post. The linky list is located at the bottom of this post.

I’ll be giving away a Kindle version of Louise Riotte’s Carrots Love Tomatoes and an e-copy of my novel Moons’ Kiss to one randomly drawn visitor who comments on this blog post. International visitors are welcome to compete in my blog giveaway.

Good luck, everyone, and happy planting!

They found him in the South Ofrann Desert, where everything evil lived. Most called him a demon. One leader thought this man-without-a-past held the key to tribal peace and prosperity. That leader's enemies saw an opportunity to gain control of the nation.

* * * * *

There had been no explanation for Tackta's rage that day, just as there had been no explanations for prior and subsequent beatings. Manerra could recall vague episodes of disappointment, where Tackta demanded answers to questions Manerra did not understand. But then, he had been a child—a babe!—and lacked the coordination and understanding to please his mother's mate, where even the nature of Tackta's tests were lost beneath the burden of more searing recollections.

Would those who envied him envy him still if they knew the price he had paid for being what he was? Every one of them, including Aya, would be shocked to know how desperately he yearned to avoid succession.

"Please bring forth a shecaren," that plea-whisper broke, backed by the full weight of his desperation. He was running out of time. If a sibling wasn't born at this year's Ingathering, he would lose his chance to abdicate.


Manerra startled and whirled. He had not heard Denassa approach. He had not been aware that he'd stopped walking. His first wonder was whether she'd overheard his plea, but she stood, head bowed, in a deference they rarely used privately. Her formality reminded him of how deeply the janquer were affected by shecaren arguments.

"What does he want from me, Dee?" Manerra bypassed the expected acknowledgment.

Denassa's head lifted.

"Is he afraid I'll challenge his decisions? Or challenge his rule?"

Discomfort overcame her surprise. "He's not confided in me."

He interpreted that as a plea not to compromise her position. "Then tell me what I've missed these last four years. What happened to him?"

"After leaving Kita, we returned to Ayahn Rahh—"

"I know where you went!"

She stopped talking, her frustration evident.

"Dee . . ." he floundered in his search for the one question that would make sense of their arguments. Then suddenly, "Did he want me back?"

Her composure dissolved. "All the years you were gone, he did little more than talk about your return and relate stories of his own tribal years. He planned our arrival in Thurra to coincide with the completion of your training."

Manerra flushed hotly. "Then why can't we talk? Did he have feelings for Hyran he’s never mentioned? Have I failed him?"

Denassa was shocked again. "It's only been a day. Give—"

"No. No, it's not," he cut her short. "We only spoke of it today. Whatever's been wrong has been wrong since Thurra." But because Hyran's death was the obvious answer, Manerra asked, "What, in my father's name, is that thing I risked my life to save?"

"Shecaren . . ." she pleaded as though she could not possibly know any of the answers he wanted. "Is your shoulder broken?"

He blushed. He had tried to hide an injury. "I don't think so."

"May I examine it?"

He choked on a laugh of dismay, but sank to his knees in silent submission. "You could as easily have asked to cut off my leg," he offered as she approached, then flinched when she shifted aside fabric and her fingertips brushed skin.

"I can't examine the bone without touching you," she said.

"I know." And although he steeled himself, her probing fingers wrenched out cries of pain. He sat slumped upon his heels and gasping by the time she was certain his bones weren't broken.

Denassa stroked his temple, then his braids. "I need to look at your hip," she said, "but that can wait until you've taken willow bark tea."

He tilted his head in agreement, needing that relief from pain even though getting it meant returning to the tent. Avoiding Aya even for a day was impossible. Sleeping in the desert would not succeed for long.

"I have not seen a man like the one you brought back," Denassa said. "The founding stories describe the division of the tribes and the existence of the Laytose, and Ringgangley histories explain the creation of the Manteen, but no history describes other Yatren-like men."

"Except demons," he reminded her.

She hesitated before answering, "And the gods."

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  1. I don't really garden (kinda tough living in a massive apartment complex in a city's downtown area), but I love this idea of combination gardening. It makes total sense to me, like how certain medications combined are stronger than the sum of parts. Whereas other combos weaken each other. Didn't ever really think about it relating to gardening, but it sounds like an easy enough thing to try out! Email is ___@___.___.___, fill in with smiles, alumni, cmu, edu. Sorry it's complicated, I hate spambots.

    1. If you aren't familiar with AeroGardens, check them out. I was lucky enough to pick one up at a yard sale for $5 and so far, am liking it. They allow apartment dwellers to grow fresh herbs, flowers, and even peppers and tomatoes inside a home. I haven't attempted to grow cherry tomatoes with it yet and admit that I'm a bit skeptical (all I visualize is my six-foot-tall tomato plants that grow outside), but the company claims it can be done with judicious pruning. I may attempt it one winter, when my final garden-grown tomato has graced its last salad.

  2. I have never tried combination gardening, have heard people talk about, just have a small garden area, so don't have a lot of room to experiment.
    skpetal at hotmail dot com

  3. Jean, a small gardening area is exactly why I began experimenting with companion planting. I live in the city, so my property is measured in feet instead of acres. Companion planting is perfect for small plots. Normally, I'd have strawberries growing in one area and onions in another. Placing both together means the former onion plot can now grow a tomato plant or carrots or another vegetable of my choice. And whereas I grew only vegetables before, I can now enjoy flowers interspersed among the veggies because certain flowers benefit their veggie companions and vice versa.

  4. I've never tried it before but it sounds like a great idea

    fencingromein at hotmail dot com

    1. I hope you get a chance to try it, Shannon. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

  5. Years ago, I tried lasagna gardening where you layer newspaper and dirt. I still had break through weeds but not as much as I could have.


    books4me67 at ymail dot com

    1. I used that principle when I filled some of my raised beds. (I hadn't read the Lasagna Gardening book before I began raised bed gardening.) I didn't have nearly enough newspaper to follow their recipe exactly, so I removed the layer of sod underneath the beds and began filling by layering newspapers, cardboard, leaves, kitchen scraps, soil, compost, and whatever other organic matter I had. The beds filled quickly that way, but settled quite a bit over the following year. However, the veggies were lush and productive, and the annual settling allows room for additional compost, which keeps the soil fertile--necessary with such dense growth in confined spaces. Thank you for sharing your experience and reminding me of my own. Good luck in the drawings.

  6. Thanks for the gardening tips! I like the idea of companion gardening. I used radishes to keep pests away from lettuce and peas last year. Worked great. cchant86 @

  7. So glad to hear this. Thank you for visiting and commenting, cchant.

  8. I've never tried companion gardening, but I'm willing to give it a try!

    Thanks for the amazing giveaway!

  9. I hope you have fun with it, Book Attict. Thank you for visiting.

  10. I wish I could have a garden, but we live in an apartment. eendrizzi79 at gmail dot com

  11. Very cool! Im gonna admit, im not good at gardening. I have a black thumb of death. Poor things always die on me. Tho, im now tempted to give it another shot! Especially for some of them strawberries. I love those! hehe! Thank you!

  12. Congratulations to Shannon R, who won e-book copies of Carrots Love Tomatoes and Moons' Kiss. Happy gardening, Shannon, and everyone else who participated in this year's fun Authors in Bloom Blog Hop.