Hit the ground running

Hit the Ground Running!
May is an exciting month for me with the 5th Third River Bank Run and the end of frost dates (hopefully) here in West Michigan. Our last frost date is usually around May 10 so we can “hit the ground running” in the month of May planting our flowers, vegetables and herbs out in the garden. It’s a kick in the “plants” to get our outdoor living lifestyles in high gear as we anticipate the summer months ahead.

5th 3rd River Bank Run
5th 3rd River Bank Run

When we hit the ground running remember that the soil you plant in is the “stomach” of the plant. The quality and preparation of the soil is key as the foundation of the plants you put in the ground or container. When planting vegetables and herbs a healthy soil will mean healthy plants and ultimately a healthy you! The key to healthy soils is three primary elements, Carbon, Minerals and Biology. Carbon comes from amendments you add like compost providing good soil structure. These amendments improve soil structure so it can breathe as well as maintain a good balance between moisture retention and drainage. Minerals are depleted or locked up in many of our soils. Good quality natural fertilizers with some micro-nutrients will help. More importantly the third element “biology” plays a key role in unlocking the nutrients and minerals to your plants.
"Dirty" thoughts
“Dirty” thoughts
The addition of beneficial soil microbes and mycorrhizae will keep you and your plants happy and healthy or should I say “well grounded”. The addition of ground up leaves, compost and some Dairy Doo to existing parent soils I have found quickly increases the “biology” of the soil evident alone by the earthworms, texture and even the aroma of the soil. That’s when I know those tomato plants I put in the ground are going to produce some good summertime eating!
As it relates to Flowering Annuals “lettuce” have some fun and plant one on me! Many of today’s generation of flowering annuals are easy care, all season colorful bloomers trialed and tested for performance and disease resistance. Some of my favorites to plant for reliable summertime color well into fall are:
Calibrachoa,Cleome,Pennisetum purpureum Euphorbia Diamond Frost, “Big” Begonias, Gomphrena, Supertunia or Wave Petunias just to name a very few. pottery and annuals 2
Make sure to plant up some containers and go to pot! I just can’t contain myself when it comes to the countless possibilities of plants and container styles to express one ’s self! When planting in containers remember a drainage hole at the bottom is important and the quality of the soil you use will have a big role in your success. wordpress-aug-4I like to incorporate a slow release 3 to 4 month fertilizer worked into the soil at the time of planting and then supplement in season with a water soluble fertilizer for best results. Pick out your flowers and when planting work from the center out thinking “focal” first, then “filler” then “edger” and finally “trailer” over the side of the pot. Voila we’ve hit the ground running!

River Bank Run

It’s a great time of the year for fresh air, gardening and running! This year’s Fifth Third River Bank run was again a huge event and a real kick in the “plants!”

Ready to go!

Every year when the race is done I look forward to putting some Tomatoes in the ground and running in the event again next year! Here’s to running with friends and getting the garden growing!

Proud of my daughter Stacey…..a chip off the old patio stone!
Fifth Third River Bank Run
Finish line in sight


It appears we will all be the beneficiaries of an early spring this year. Whether you’re a runner, golfer, biker or gardener we will all benefit from an early start to spring 2012. Certainly an earlier start than the springs of 2010 and 2011. With little frost in the ground from an unseasonably warm winter followed by March sunshine, the soil temperatures will warm quickly causing the earth to wake from it’s winter slumber. With daylight saving time I look forward to running outside after work instead of the monotonous circuit of an indoor track. With warmer weather our winter habits change to the fresh air exercise of a good run or gardening project. With an early spring we are able to establish “mow”-mentum as I call it, and I run from winter and don’t look back.

Gardeners like to use the phrase, “you can’t control the weather.” “Whether” you like it or you are along for the ride and are swept up in its dictates. I found running can be the same way. You train and prepare for race day, but there is nothing like the flow…the momentum…the energy of being in a pack of runners at the start.

River Bank Run Start 10K 2011

In this picture you can find me in the pack of runners at the 2011 Fifth Third River Bank Run. It was a cold windy day with snow flurries in the air. At the bottom of the picture near the center I’m #8488 dressed in black wearing the blue cap and for some reason looking to the skies before the start. I don’t recall if I was seeking divine guidance or dreaming of sunny warmer days. All I know is that I enjoy the start of a race. You can feel the excitement in the air, the anticipation and the positive tension as you jostle for position with other runners at the start. After a mile or two as the mass of humanity starts to thin a little you find your pace and regulate your breathing…….you my friend have experienced positive momentum.

The same applies in our “yardening” efforts as spring breaks and we’re out mowing the lawn with our neighbors. Once we’ve dusted off that lawn mower from it’s long winter nap and it roars to life you’ve experienced spring “mow”-mentum. Here’s hoping that spring and a new season provides some “lawn” and order in your life. Now get out there and move.

Spring into Action

If you are going to try cross-country start with a small country. I love that phrase because it applies to both running and gardening, two activities I enjoy. It’s actually well “rooted” and well “footed” advice for those getting started. I believe when you take up running you slowly but surely develop a love for it as you increase distances and improve your time.

River Bank Run at 5 mile point 10K

Suddenly that day comes when you find yourself addicted to finding time to go for a run. The same applies to gardening. After a long winter I find some people decide to go all out on gardening and landscaping biting off more than they can chew. When the summer heat and weeds arrive their passion wanes. Approaching both passions in bite size pieces you learn as you “grow” and understand your rewards come from approaching it as a marathon and not a sprint.

Spring is a wonderful season. A call to “spring” into action after a long winter. The earth comes to life and we get outdoors for fresh air, sunshine and physical activities. For those who have never run the Fifth Third River Bank Run, now in its 35th year, I suggest you try it. Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow. I’ve found that is true for running, for gardening and for life in general.

With gardening I was always taught that if you haven’t killed a plant you’re not trying hard enough. Those who claim to have a “brown thumb” I always encourage to stay in the game. When it comes to running train properly and be prepared. Stay in the game understanding there will be good days and there will be bad days. That’s OK……that’s life. Runners like to say “time wounds all heels”. The rewards come from challenging yourself. Just do it smart…..in bite size pieces. Start with a 5K or a 10K race.

Fifth Third River Bank Run Finish

Whatever the event at the Fifth Third River Bank Run, you’ll feel the adrenaline rush surrounded by a multitude of other runners at the start line and the personal satisfaction of crossing the finish line. And with gardening, don’t expect to master Hydrangeas, Gardenias and Orchids until you’ve dabbled with a few Tomato and Pepper plants. Whatever you do just don’t throw in the “trowel.” Stay in the game and spring into action.

This looks like a job for Plantman!

Faster than a speeding lawnmower…..more powerful than a bag of urea fertilizer…able to leap tall sunflowers in a single bound…it’s Plantman!

Plantman crosses the finish line

Thank you Alger Heights neighborhood for hosting the Halloween run on a sunny late October Saturday morning! Entre-manure superhero Plantman enjoyed his run fighting “grime” in your town…..thank you very mulch!

This looks like a job for Plantman
Permission to buzz the tower? Negative Ghostrider....the pattern is full. Maverick and Plantman....