From the Garden of Bess T.
‘My history with gardening, vegetable and otherwise, goes back generations, at least to my grandfather, who kept a farm in Sweetwater, New Jersey, into his retirement. He firmly believed that corn was best only moments after it was picked, and he was so dedicated to this belief that he would set a pot of water to boil on the stove and would only run out to pick the ears once it started to simmer.
My mother is much the same. She is a self-taught gardener and an artist, so her garden blazed with color when I was a child . The beds were always filled with flowers and visiting pollinators sipping nectar and collecting pollen. In July and August, we would pick fresh tomatoes and zucchini that she would make into ratatouille and fresh pasta sauce to freeze for the winter.
Here are the things I learned from my family of gardeners:
Plants make more plants. Never be afraid to try saving seeds. It might not work the first time you attempt it, but you’ll have lost nothing by trying. So next time you make sauce, set aside the seeds of your favorite tomatoes. You can learn some great tips and tricks here: Seed Saving, from Why to How.
Plant in color. Mix herbs, vegetables and flowering plants together. The more vibrant and diverse a garden, the healthier it usually is. Companion planting, or square foot gardening, is a great way to maximize what you can grow in one location – and the plants like it too. You can learn more about this type of gardening here: Growing More with Less
Never be afraid to try something new. Trust me, the plants won’t judge you. So if something inspires you, a new vegetable variety or a DIY project for the yard – go for it. Even if you don’t succeed, you’ll learn something.
Don’t let your space discourage you. Even a small space can fill your harvest basket and attract bees and butterflies. Learn more about container gardening here: The Movable Garden and about saving space with vertical gardening here: Nowhere to Go, But Up.
Know your resources. Look around to see where you can dig up (pun intended) some great information. For instance, did you know that Tyler Arboretum offers a free video series on growing vegetables? It’s true – you can find it here: Growing Vegetables.