Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Sweetest Grapes Are Grown in Rocky Soil by Barbara Tiller Cole

The Sweetest Grapes Are Grown in Rocky Soil

By Barbara Tiller Cole

(For those that are visiting this website for the first time for Authors in Bloom 2017, welcome!  Many wonderful authors are featured on this site if you want to read more.  GIVEAWAYS-- For the blog tour, remember to comment below for the grand prize of a $200 ereader.  You must comment on ALL the blog tour sites to be eligible to win the grand prize.   Most of the other blogs have individual give aways.  I have 2 give aways--an ecopy of each of my two books for a lucky winner.  Extra entries will be given for following this blog, liking my Facebook author page, and friending me on Facebook, sharing this post on Twitter or Facebook, or requesting to join Darcyholic Diversions: All Things Austen Posting Board on Facebook.  Good luck!)

Did you know that the sweetest grapes are grown in rocky soil?  I didn’t either until recently when I heard about it in a Hallmark movie I happened to be watching (Autumn in the Vineyard).  So, I looked it up and found that it was true.  It made a lot of sense to me, not just for grapes.   I have often found that to be true in life as well.  Those things we struggle for, those times that are the toughest, when we arrive at our destination or when the fruits of our labor come to fruition it is all the much sweeter.

In preparing for the Author in Blooms Blog Tour, I decided to study grapes and how they grow and look at it as an analogy for life.  

Did you know that grapevines are long term plants?  Yes, they can live between 50 to 100 years. 
  • Hopefully most of us will live beyond 50, but the time frame for grapevines is similar to humans. 
Grapevines thrive in sloped and hilly areas that offer up plenty of drainage and sunlight.  If you are inspired to plane grapevines from this article, be sure to plant your grapevines on a downward slope.  And pick a south-facing hill in an area clear of other trees and plants if at all possible.
  • Life has many hills and valleys as well.  I often find myself on a slope, walking up hill in my latest challenge in life.  But just like the grapevines, I thrive with sunlight. To me ‘sunlight' is in my spiritual program.  In the midst of the biggest struggles in my life, God is my source and strength and keeping plugged into the light makes all the difference.  I don’t always see how I am going to make it through, but if I have proper ‘drainage and sunlight’ I know I will find the answers.  
Grapevines are a bit picky about their soil conditions.  Soil that is slightly rocky and/or sandy with a pH just above 7 yields the best crop.  Plan for drainage and adjust the pH if necessary.  
  • Even when I am in the midst of challenges, my life is best when I plan in what conditions I will live my life spiritually.  Over the years I have found that I need to surround myself with positive God-centered people to be sure that I can thrive.  
Avoid over fertilizing the soil as grapevines don’t do too well when the soil is too nutrient-rich.
  • Well, what can I say!  Too much ‘fertilizer’ in my life (i.e. b.s.) and I just don’t thrive. I also believe that discovering what ‘nutrients’ I do need is imperative.   I think this can have a lot to do with complacency.  If my life conditions are ‘too comfortable’ I forget to do the spiritual self care I know I need to do to life a balanced life.  I am strongest at the broken places, when I KNOW I have to turn to God for support and strength we find the nourishment we need.
Grapevines need support.  Either you grow them next to an existing structure such as a fence, or you plan to buy or construct a trellis to provide them with a health support system. Sometimes the grapevines may need a bit of assistance to begin to use the support you have built for them.
  • Do you have an adequate support system in your life?  Mentors?  I have built a foundation of friends in all of the various aspects of my life whom I can turn to for support.  It is important to remember to USE the support system you have when you are struggling.  This is probably the biggest struggle in my life as I am much more likely to pull inwards and lick my wounds when I am in the midst of tough times. The few special friends who reach out to me when they have not heard from me are life lines.  When I am not reaching out they reach out to me, knowing I might need a little bit of help to use my support system.
Plant your grapevines.  You can’t just plan to do it, you have to do it.  If you want grapes, then you have to execute your plan.    How deep you plant seedlings will depend on the age and size of each plant.
  • Not only do I have to dream and plan but I have to take the chance and do the leg work.  Sometimes I am successful and often times I am not.  But if I never take a risk I won’t ever bear fruit in your life.  Set backs come.  I learn from my mistakes and try again.
Be sure to give your grapevines a good watering.  But do not over water them.  Set up a drip system directly at the roots so the grapevines get the water where it needs it on a regular basis.  
  • What you feed your roots is important. Prayer, meditation, spiritual readings, exercise, healthy food, etc.  Learn what you need and how much you need it.  I have found that when I am struggling the most I have to struggle to make myself get the nourishment I need.  But it is important to include it in my regular routine.
Cut back all fruit the first year as your grapevines are not healthy enough to bear the weight of the fruit.  If you are impatient and decide you have to have fruit too early, your vines are not going to last for the long haul.  Also cut back all the vines except for the strongest that branch off from the main cane.  In later years cut back 90% of the new growth on older vines each year.  
  • Pruning may be the hardest lesson to learn.  Particularly when you have to wait a long time for the fruit of your labors.  Be patient in your life with yourself and your friends and family.  Pruning time may hurt.  We may lose ‘stuff’ we thought we needed.  We may face financial hardships.  There is a reason for it. The lessons in the struggle will make us stay alive and hearty for the long haul.  I may not be where I want to be today, but I know I am in a pruning time.  The time will come when it is time for me to bear fruit again.
The time for pruning is when the grapevines are dormant.  Otherwise they will bleed their sap and lose their vigor.  Best time for pruning is in late winter when it is no longer cold enough outside for frost. 
  • Have you ever hit that place in life where you seem stuck?   A dormant place?  This is the best time for spiritual pruning.  Accept where you are.  Do an inventory of what you need and what you need to get rid of in your life.  This may include an inventory of your character traits and defect.  It may include getting rid of extra stuff in your life and selling it or giving it away.  It may be a time to get rid of destructive habits. It may be time for you to find healthier people to spend your time with.  In the midst of the dormant phase can grow the action that will get us to where our dreams can come true.
Harvest your grapes only when it is best for the vines.  Strong, edible fruit likely won’t appear for anywhere from that 1-3 year period.  Don’t be tricked by what it looks like.  Taste the fruit to know if it is time to pick them.  Grapes do not ripen at all after picking as is the case with some other fruits.  So don’t pick them prematurely.  
  • Only harvest the healthiest, sweetest fruit of your labors.  Yes, we have to pay our bills and sometimes we have to do things that aren’t that ‘sweet’.  But when it comes to our creative energies, keep striving till you find the healthiest fruit.  Your patience will pay off.  The struggle I may be in today will be worth it in the end.  
The things we appreciate the most in our lives will be those we have struggled over and overcome much to accomplish.  So, be like the grapevine and you too will live for up to 100 years with the sweetest of fruit.
The fruit of grapevines is grapes.  And for many, the reason for grapes may be the wine produced from them.  But several years ago I attended the Naples New York Grape Festival and tasted delightful grape inspired food.  The following recipe was inspired by attending that event.  
Grape Cobbler
4 ¼ cups Concord Grapes or Canadice Red Grapes
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup sugar
¼ cup flour or 2 tbsp. quick cooking tapioca
1 package Duncan Hines butter recipe golden cake mix (or comparable cake mix)
1 stick of butter
(optional) chopped pecans                                                                              
Wash the grapes and remove skins by pinching at end opposite stem.  Popping the naked grape out of the skin can be very therapeutic and fun if you let it be.  Reserve skins. Place pulp in sauce pan and bring to a boil, cook a few minutes until pulp is soft. Put through strainer or food mill, while pulp is hot, to remove seeds. Mix strained pulp with skins. Stir in sugar, flour or tapioca, and lemon juice. Cook for 5 minutes to thicken.

In a separate bowl put the cake mix.  Microwave the butter (microwave in a microwave safe dish) for 20-sec on high.  Note that not all the butter may melt.  Mix the cake mix and the butter together. (as an option add a half of a cup of chopped pecans)

With the paper from the butter, grease a 9” by 13”.  Put in the grape mixture on the bottom, spread evenly.  Sprinkle the buttered cake mix over the top, covering evenly.

Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.   Let the cobbler cool 5 minutes before serving.

Ideally, serve the cobbler warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

For more about growing grapes:

 The Authors in Bloom Grand prize is a $200 ereader.  You need to comment at all blog tour locations to be qualified to win.  Most of the blog tour stops have prizes and the particulars will be on their blog.  MY GIVE AWAY. I am giving two commenters a choice of my two book ecopies.  Enter by commenting. Extra entries will be given for following this blog, liking my Facebook author page, and friending me on Facebook, sharing this post on Twitter or Facebook, or requesting to join Darcyholic Diversions: All Things Austen Posting Board on Facebook.  Good luck!

For the other stops on the blog tour follow this link:   Authors In Bloom Blog Tour Participants Links

Barbara Tiller Cole, Author
Barbara Tiller Cole, a professional therapist and clinical manager in the field of addiction, is a Decatur, Georgia native. Under her professional name, she is included on various Who's Who listings, including Who's Who in American Women, and has been named to The Honorable Order of  Kentucky Colonels.  While she was encouraged by her mother to expand her mind through extensive reading, her father gave her the unconditional love she needed to test her wings in various pursuits. Barbara's writing has been influenced by the works of Jane Austen and today she proudly refers to herself as a Darcyholic.  She has published two successful Austen inspired novels, White Lies and Other Half Truths andFitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy.  Her next novel, Adventures of a Darcyholic, a modern romantic comedy, will be released late Fall, 2012. 

Barbara Tiller Cole's Books

Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy
'Pride and Prejudice' meets 'A Christmas Carol' A Jane Austen/Charles Dickens crossover story, 'Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy' takes the best of both classics and spins them into a delightful Holiday yarn! F.E. Darcy has fallen into pitiful self-loathing and sorrowful angst-ridden despair; all of this due to his belief that he has lost forever the chance to marry the only woman he has ever loved—Elizabeth Bennet. Seeing her son in such a state, the Ghost of Anne Darcy reaches out to him; informing him that three ghosts would visit him and give him hope. Will these Spirits provide him with the courage to try again to win the esteem of his one true soul mate? Barbara Tiller Cole, an Atlanta native and the writer of the popular book 'White Lies and Other Half Truths', presents this family friendly classic—a delightful combination of the best of her two favorite authors, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Barbara credits her parents with fostering a love for both of these authors. Each Christmas, Barbara’s father would sit and read Dicken’s classic 'A Christmas Carol' to the family. Her mother consistently challenged her to improve her mind by extensive reading, Jane Austen style. This book is dedicated to the memory of Cliff and Jeanne and the season they loved the best.
Barbara Tiller Cole shines a comedic, sexy light on the characters of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, turning it into a delightful romp. Open the pages and take a look at maiden fears, the consequences of white lies, and the hope for redemption. If Fitzwilliam Darcy were alive today he would say, "If Jane Austen had written a Regency Sex Manual, this would be it!" Elizabeth Bennet would have said, "A fun,  light, sexy yarn! What I would give to be taught by Professor Darcy!" Take a delightful journey with your beloved characters as you read this delightful farce!
Adventures of A Darcyholic
It is a proven fact that when a man or woman become obsessed with an object of desire, particularly when that personification is a fictional character such as one Fitzwilliam Darcy, it may be necessary to surrender and admit defect to intervention, and seek help when simple infatuation becomes an addiction.  In Adventures of a Darcyholic our hero and heroine have a deep need to find some balance in their lives. Is support available to assist them to find a path back to normal?  But then again, if Darcy is the problem do they wish for a cure?

Barbara Tiller Cole, an Atlanta native and author of her third novel, brings to light this Jane Austen inspired laugh-out-loud comedic delight.


  1. i follow you in all pace and then i love the bookcovers

    1. Desi! Thank for stopping for for the Authors in Bloom hop! Glad you liked the covers as well! Good luck in all of the drawings in the hop!

  2. thanks for doing the hop! I had no idea the sweetest grapes were from Rocky soil. That is so interesting.

    1. Thanks Rachael. I didn’t know that either until recently. Such an intriguing link with life in general. I appreciate you stopping by on the blog hop!

  3. Thanks for participating in this hop

    1. Thanks Belinda! And I thank you for stopping by along the way!

  4. I am having fun entering all the giveaways thank you.

  5. Thank you for this great Hop.  I signed up for email to follow this blog, liked Facebook author page, and friended you on Facebook, shared this post on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks again. catwoman-1(at)comcast(dot)net

    1. So glad to have you stopping by Sharon! Thanks for all of your entries as well!

    2. I forgot to say that I am original from Upstate New York, and that recipe reminds me of the Grape Pies we had up there from the wineries in the Great Lakes Region.

  6. Your cobbler really looks delicious, so I will try it. I know my husband will love it. Thanks for participating in this hop.

    1. You are welcome Judy! The cobbler is yummy. I adapted a peach cobbler recipe I have. I am a Georgia girl and we know how to do peach cobbler! So it worked well.

  7. Thanks for the chance.
    magic5905 at embarqmail dot com

  8. Thanks for the tips. I followed all ways.
    Christina /

  9. Following your author facebook page.

  10. Thanks for the amazing giveaway!
    elizabeth(at)bookattict(dot)com (subscribed)

  11. sounds tasty

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Thanks for the giveaway. Liked on Facebook. Following on Twitter.

  14. Following via email. Thanks for the recipe and the giveaway! 💖

  15. Thanks for being part of the hop. I learned a lot about grapes. cchant86 @

  16. follow via email (vipersweb (at)gmail (dot)com) Thank you for participating and the interesting information about grapes.