By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Gardening and Goofing off
Patty Leon

Like many folks trying to stay busy amid a pandemic, I’m trying my hand at gardening. I have zero skills when it comes to growing plants. My Dad had a green thumb, but it did not get passed down to me. I can kill a cactus, which seem to grow elsewhere with ease and no water. 

I’ve seen some social media posts where folks are showing off their ornate raised gardens, bursting at the seams with watermelons, tomatoes and zucchini. I could get jealous but instead I message them and ask how they are tending to their garden to make it so lush and bountiful.

I thought it would be easy to grow my own veggies and plants. I mean it seems simple. Buy some good soil, plant the seeds, or baby plant, add water and watch it grow.


You need the right type of soil for the plant. You need to feed your plants more than just water for it to grow. Some plants need 100 percent direct sunlight. Others need some shade, so they don’t burn and wither away to nothing. 

Did you know that soil has a PH balance that affects plant growth? I thought PH balance kits were just for pool water. Some plants need a low acid balanced or neutral soil while others need the soil to be more acidic.


And then there is composting!

Don’t even get me started with composting! That’s like Chemistry and Calculus combined and neither was my favorite topic in school.

Mom is always reminding me of how Dad used to go out in the backyard and pick their lettuce for their salad. At 91, she is too old now to do the gardening herself but misses having budding flowers, fruits and vegetables and colorful plants around the yard.

I know she is getting some joy in watching me plant, water and tend to our current mini garden on the front porch steps. She gives me directions on where to place certain plants and pots. Right now, we have lavender, sweet basil, and rosemary for our herb garden. We have a small tomato plant that is coming up nicely and a small Cayenne pepper plant that has tons of peppers that started sprouting out. 

Our next garden will be in the backyard where Dad had built a raised garden bed. It’s bare right now and I’ll need to tend to the soil and get the ground ready for planting for the fall.

Gardening is just one new hobby I started since March. Goofing around with my dogs and trying new recipes also takes up most of whatever spare time I have left in a day.

My talented Little Man, Johnny Crash, an American Rat Terrier mix, has always enjoyed playing fetch with Tennis Balls and playing soccer as well. We’ve spent the past few months developing his soccer skills (and mine) kicking the ball to each other back and forth.

Yes, he kicks the ball back to me!

Soccer is better played inside since we have wooden floors. The ball rolls a lot better than it does on the grass.

He usually keeps one Tennis Ball in his mouth and will slap the other ball my way with his paw. I tap the ball back at him and he stops the ball with both his paws and slaps it back. I kick the ball back a bit harder. He stops the ball and slaps it back. This goes on for quite some time. If the ball goes past him, he spits the other ball out of his mouth, slaps it my way and runs to retrieve the other ball. The longer we play the faster he gets in slapping the ball back my way.

Occasionally, my other Dog Piper, a Boxer mix, will run into play and steal the ball. At that point, all hell breaks loose as Johnny Crash chases Piper around the house. My older dog Chelsea, a Shepherd mix, just sits and watches the fiasco. 

Johnny Crash soccer is probably the only exercise I’ve been getting since COVID-19 isolation began.

Cooking has always been a hobby and passion of mine.

I got Mom hooked on watching the Cooking Channel and Food Network which has inspired new recipe ideas.

Mom is a fantastic cook, especially classic Cuban recipes. But she went absolutely crazy over my Bacon, Onion, Cheddar Macaroni-n-Cheese plate and my California inspired Fried Creamy Polenta Hash to name a few. 

These hobbies have allowed us to form a bond we haven’t had since my childhood years. It’s our, “New Normal,” as we both still deal with the loss of Dad and this dumb pandemic.

What new hobbies have you started? Send emails to:

Patty Leon 

Senior Editor, Coastal Courier.

Sign up for our e-newsletters