Writing updates.

I’ve been super-busy and there are a few more articles and stories pending publication early in the new year, but here’s a list of some of my work that has been either very recently published or will go to press very shortly….

Garden Writing ~

Available now:

“Lacto-Fermentation with Herbs” in The Herb Quarterly, Fall 2015 issue – on North American newsstands

A couple of my sea buckthorn berry recipes are posted on The Canadian Organic Grower’s website – you can check them out here.


“Growing Gooseberries” in The Prairie Garden 2017: Fruit and Berries (available for pre-order; book launch is 27 November)


“Herb Straw Bale Gardening” in The Herb Quarterly, Winter 2015 issue

Short Stories ~

Available now:

“Sheeple” in the Wolfsinger Publications anthology Under a Dark Sign (available through Smashwords and Amazon)

What happens when a long-suffering evil villain finally gets his due?

“The Commute” in the Strange Musings Press anthology Alternate Hilarities 4: Weirder Science (available through Amazon)

An alien races home to attend to an urgent family matter.  The only thing he hasn’t counted on?  Getting stuck in heavy commuter traffic on Earth.  


“GEUs” in Fossil Lake’s anthology Unicornado

Genetically engineered unicorns?  Yeah, I went there.

For Children ~

Available now:

“Pet Horoscope: Warthogs” in the Fall Fun 2015 issue of the Canadian children’s magazine Bazoof! (formerly Zamoof!) – on Canadian newsstands


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Essay: Burnt Casseroles.

In November of last year, I happened to notice that Jennifer over at Three Dogs in a Garden was hosting an essay contest.  As I can’t resist a writing challenge (especially when there’s a “Humour” category), I right away sent off a submission.  Imagine my delight when “Burnt Casseroles” was selected as one of the four winning entries!  Thanks, Jennifer!

Head over to Three Dogs and a Garden to view my essay and the incredible images that Jennifer photographed to illustrate it.  While you’re there, stay awhile and enjoy her beautiful and informative posts.

And don’t forget to check out the other winning essays!  Here they are:

“Don’t Be the Crazy Cat Lady!” by Holley of Roses and Other Gardening Joys

“What Not to Do In a Job Interview” by Rosemary Aubut

and “Wyoming” by Laurrie Sostman.

Have a wonderful weekend! 


Operation Let-Your-Hare-Down (Part Two).

Well, let’s see this thing through to the very end, shall we?  😉

Operation Let-Your-Hare-Down

By Sheryl Normandeau

Offensive Tactic #3.  06/04/11. 19:17. Habanero peppers. 

Forget the oft-advised cayenne pepper, one blogger insists.  It’s not strong enough.  Her reasoning is sound enough, I conclude, so I toodle off to the grocery store and pick a bag of scorching hot habaneros.  (The woman selecting button mushrooms next to me keeps shooting withering glances at me as if I’m the most sadistic cook on the planet; her sympathies clearly lay with my husband).  Chopping the peppers requires gloves and a keen air of hopefulness.  I am convinced that this will work, I am convinced that this will work, I am convinced….

Field Report 4.0.  06/05/11.  07:34. 

Forget the habaneros.  Apparently hares have a yen for painfully spicy stir fries containing half my herb garden, my tender stands of Swiss chard, and certain pre-cut hot peppers.

Offensive Tactic #4.  06/05/11. 13:45. Cat hair and used cat litter. 

I cough delicately to hide my embarrassment.  “Mom, um, I need a bit of Miss Flossy’s used litter.  And some hair from her brush.”

Mom doesn’t even blink.  “No problem, dear,” she says.  “Is this for a gardening project?”

Field Report 5.0.  06/06/11.  05:47. 

Now, this is just getting insulting.  In an act of complete defiance, my tormentors have left a generous pile of fresh bon bons right next to the cat litter I spread around the perimeter of my perennial bed.  This battle is clearly escalating.

Offensive Tactic #5.  06/06/11.  10:36. Coyote urine.

Part of me wants to know how this particular product is, um, harvested and bottled, and part of me really thinks I should leave well enough alone.  Many of my Internet sympathizers have sung its praises, however, and despite my flagging confidence in the efficacy of their suggestions, I go to the garden centre and purchase some eau d’coyote.  As I pour the musky elixir into a spray bottle, I ponder the indignities I have endured so far on this quest to rid my garden of the marauding hare horde.

Field Report 6.0.  06/07/11.  08:56.

Surely, this is a marketing gimmick – either that, or I bought a bad batch.  (It smells so awful I can’t tell if it’s turned and I ought to return it to the retailer).  Undoubtedly, as they dined by moonlight on my asparagus and marigolds (also a “WILL NOT EAT” plant), my nemeses had a good chortle about the funny yellow liquid in the spray bottle.  Me, I’m reduced to hysterics.

Offensive Tactic 6.  06/07/11. 15:59. The final straw.

“He who wishes to fight must first count the cost,” the same wise warrior wrote.  He wasn’t kidding.  Rottweiler puppies sure eat a lot of kibble.


Related posts:  Operation Let-Your-Hare-Down (Part One).

Hasen stewing.

Operation Let-Your-Hare-Down (Part One).

How far would you go to protect your garden from a marauding horde????

Flowery Prose does fiction this week!  It always lends a little credence when you say something is “inspired by a true story,” so I’m going with it.   The emergent – and now, chewed up – vegetative matter in my flowerbeds stands as proof that I’m not totally lying.

Operation Let-Your-Hare-Down

By Sheryl Normandeau

 Field Report 1.0.  06/01/11. 06:45. In the line of sight. 

Early a.m. reconnaissance produces evidence of digging and heavy snacking.  Defoliated, deflowered crocus bulbs have been ripped from their roots and stacked in neat piles on top of the soil.  Newly planted white bellflower has been bitten down to the quick.  Larkspur is shredded like newspaper in a cat’s litter box.  ‘Flashing Lights’ dianthus has been thoroughly mashed in the manner of boiled potatoes.  Certain lop-eared, long-legged aggressors have prompted me to throw down the gauntlet.  This means WAR. 

“Know thy enemy,” a wise warrior once said, so I Google it.  Lepus townsendii:   white-tailed jackrabbits.  Funny, but all of the descriptions I hit leave out “utterly voracious, completely unstoppable plant eating machine, guaranteed to inspire madness and indignant rage in the souls of afflicted gardeners.”  It seems that some people actually consider the heinous beasts cute, in an “oh, but jackrabbits are related to adorable, fuzzy, sweet-eyed cottontail bunnies” kind of way, but you’ll of course find that jackrabbit sympathizers are either under the age of six, or they buy their plastic clamshell-encased produce from MegaSuperBigBoxEmporium.  Me, I’m not amused.  I just spent twenty dollars on a flat of gazanias, and I’m not about to see them disappear into the gullets of my furry adversaries.

I check the gardening forums on the ‘net for intel.  Unfortunately, the thread posts seem depressingly contradictory:  “They seemed to leave my petunias alone,” BettyFlower9 announces cheerfully, while GardenNinja82 sadly confesses that his own petunias have gone the way of the dodo, along with his burgeoning arugula and kale seedlings.  Crocuses and larkspur are definite “WILL NOT EAT” plants on one blogger’s list, but, of course, I know better.

“How can I stop rabbits from eating my plants?”  I query the search engine.  (I’m feeling lucky, indeed).  Thousands of blog posts, forum threads, and gardening websites pop up, instantly at my disposal and full of the latest advice.  I take a sip of coffee, crack my knuckles, and tap my wireless mouse.

Field Report 2.0. 06/02/11. 10:26. Implementation of Operation Let-Your-Hare-Down. 

Offensive Tactic #1:  Bloodmeal. 

Bloodmeal is made from dried cow’s blood, and my informants on GreenGardenGrows suggest that heavily-preyed upon animals such as rabbits might be put off by the scent.  Dried-up blood sort of scares me, I figure, so with a rambling sort of logic, it might frighten the rabbits.  No matter, it’s worth a shot:  it’s cheap and nutritious for the plants.  I apply it liberally out of a large bucket, broadcasting granules over the soil while little murmured hopes linger on my lips.

Field Report 2.1.  06/03/11.  05:52. 

A.M. reconnaissance finds a juvenile enemy troop lounging in the middle of my catmint.  Obviously he is too young to be aware of the certain dangers of desiccated cow‘s blood.  I sigh, and shoo him away.

Offensive Tactic #2.  06/03/11. 11:32. Hand soap. 

“Use the smelliest soap you can get,” my digital advisors helpfully suggest.  The stuff I purchase does permanent damage to my olfactory senses and makes me nauseous as I cut it up into small shavings.  I’m a bit alarmed by the way the bright green soap stands out against my rich brown bark mulch after I apply it, but my fervent desire to drive away my long-eared opponents overrides my sense of aesthetics.

Field Report 3.0.  06/04/11. 16:05. 

It rains overnight, a deep soaking that ordinarily would be cause for great rejoicing.  (I’m lazy and don’t haul out the garden hoses unless absolutely imperative).  A.M. reconnaissance finds my plants poking out of a suffocating sudsy lime green bubble bath.  And, wouldn’t you know it? – this afternoon one of the hort society ladies stops in for tea.  She’s the first to notice that the enemy has decimated my ‘Baby Star’ head lettuce.

Jump over to Operation Let-Your-Hare-Down (Part Two) now! 

Book review: Sugar snaps and strawberries.

Sugar Snaps and Strawberries:  Simple Solutions for Creating Your Own Small-Space Edible Garden – Andrea Bellamy (2010, Timber Press, Inc., Portland)

This beautifully-photographed tome is a must-have for wannabe small-space urban gardeners:  it’s a comprehensive how-to manual that details all of the necessities for creating an aesthetically-pleasing and highly productive food garden on a balcony, deck, courtyard, driveway, or small yard.  Containers, of course, are the cornerstones of Bellamy’s designs, but she also offers construction plans for raised beds.  All the gardening nuts and bolts are covered:  light, water, soil, amendments, fertilizers, siting, pest control (organically, natch!) and all of the cultural requirements from sowing to pruning to harvest (including a really great section about saving seed and deliniating the terms “heirloom” and “hybrid”).

About one third of the book is devoted to the food plants themselves, with brief, detailed portraits of standby greens, herbs, tomatoes, root veggies and small fruits – and some surprises, such as mushrooms and grains.  I’m a bit astonished that Bellamy has included larger plants such as apples and corn on this list (particularly the latter, about which she writes, “Unfortunately, corn, also known as maize, is not suited to growing in very small places.”   I’m not quite sure it belongs here, especially as she doesn’t mention that it can be grown as shoots, which may be more appropriate given the theme of the book.  In her defense, though, a small yard can support a few corn plants, soooooo).  All in all, however, the plant selections are excellent small-space choices and many of them can be grown even in geographical locations with limited frost-free days.

Written in a easy-going, very accessible manner (and as an aside, I LOVE the fonts and layout!), this is THE primer for small-space gardeners looking to get started on their first food garden…it’s well worth purchasing as a reference tool.


Bellamy is the creator of the blog Heavy Petal, which can be found here.


Related posts:  The Book of Little Hostas.

How to Grow Your Food.