The following is an article about gardening which was not published. I post it here as an example of my work. ~Jan
5 Ways to Keep a Summer Garden Like a Hobbit
by Jan Dizon
The trailer for The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug was released a few weeks ago. Director Peter Jackson continues the story of Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit from the Shire, who goes on an adventure across Middle Earth. But most Hobbits would much rather stay home than go on a quest with a band of dwarves and a wizard. Even Samwise Gamgee, from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, often spoke of returning to his garden whenever the situation was bleak.
The movies were filmed in the countryside of New Zealand to substitute for Tolkien’s fantasy world. The sets for the Shire itself has become a popular tourist spot. But you don’t need to travel to New Zealand or be magically transported to Middle Earth to enjoy a bountiful garden like a Hobbit. This summer, you can adopt some Hobbit habits to maintain a summer garden in your backyard.
Growing food and eating it occupies most of a Hobbit’s time. They eat at least six meals a day and two dinners if they can. They grow most of their own crops because nothing tastes better than a feast harvested from seeds you planted into the earth yourself.
Some easy to care for vegetables which thrive during summer are tomatoes, zucchinis, eggplants, and cucumbers. If the afternoon sun is too intense in your area, you can plant fast-growing pole beans to create natural shade for your seedlings.
2. Keep out Strangers
Strangers rarely entered the Shire. Occasional dwarves passed through, but other than Gandalf the Grey, not many outsiders ventured into Hobbit territory. But when the Ring Wraiths came, their way of life was nearly destroyed and nothing less than Elven Soil from Galadriel was able to heal the land for farming again.
Although there is very little chance a Ring Wraith will invade your summer garden, there are other pests you must keep out. Slugs and snails eat soft saplings and bulbs. Migratory grasshoppers, if not controlled from the beginning, may become a large infestation. Weeds can sneak in and strangle your carefully planted seedlings. Be vigilant about keeping pests out of your garden before the damage they cause becomes irreversible.
3. Keep it Neat
Hobbits take pride in the neatness of their homes and gardens. You will never find an herb out of place, a cake not in the pantry, or a dish not in the cupboard – unless a wizard and band of dwarves comes for high tea, that is.
Keep your garden neat by regularly mowing your grass, trimming your hedges, raking up dried fallen leaves, and clearing out any broken branches. Raised beds can help isolate different categories of plants and organize your garden crops.
4. Compost and Recycle Organic Waste
Hobbits do not put anything to waste. Even the gifts they give each other are considered more precious when they are rich with history and are often recycled or re-gifted. They almost never throw anything in the trash.
Recycle everything you can from your garden with an organic compost. Garden shredders can pulverize your garden waste, last season’s perennials, and other organic scraps that can be broken down in the compost heap to enrich the soil when you turn it next year.
5. Enjoy your Garden
Hobbits love and appreciate everything around them. They surround themselves with art, read poetry, and often sit outdoors with a pipe to simply enjoy the world.
Modern tools such as lawn mowers, clippers, and shredders make home gardening easier so you have more time to enjoy your garden instead than toiling away at it. Don’t forget that all your hard work in maintaining your summer garden will let you reap the rewards all year round. Like a Hobbit, relax and appreciate the beauty of nature in your own backyard.