A Gardener’s Progress-Part One

Enthusiastic gardener weeding

Jodi tackles weeding with gusto! And, yes, Shepherd's Purse is edible.

Local gardener, and new mother, Jodi Rice did it right when she started a vegetable garden in her small backyard. Cutting her garden beds into a U-shape efficiently maximizes growing space, provides easy access, and leaves a grassy middle for relaxing (maybe? possibly?) with the new baby under the umbrella. I should mention, she had help from an enthusiastic husband, David, who got the garden going in late 2010, through sheer determination. He wrote about it for Fiesta, here.

Starting a vegetable garden from scratch—removing four foot weeds, turning over turf, and adding manure to soil—is a daunting task at the best of times, but when you are still looking after a newborn, it’s quite a feat. As a mutual friend said, “She’s been gardening her pants off.”

I spoke to Jodi about her garden project, now in full swing mid-season.

Jodi, had you gardened with veggies before this one?
Jodi: When I was a kid, my mother sometimes kept an on-again-off-again veggie garden, but she wasn’t the keenest of gardeners, so more often than not it was off-again. We would grow tomatoes, mostly, though on occasion there were also cucumbers, peas, carrots, radishes… the more low-maintenance it was, the better. I enjoyed the idea of it, but I wasn’t very patient, and in particular the root veggies would often get pulled up before they were ready, so the payoff for me wasn’t that great. Also, I didn’t like tomatoes or cucumbers as a kid, and I still am not a fan of radishes, so in the end my mother decided why bother?

Sarah: All the same, those early memories are so valuable. Every kid should have the experience of pulling up a carrot, ready or not.

 

Getting the ground ready with manure and topsoil. This U-shape is the perfect layout.


How about a flower garden?
Jodi: Nope. I inherited the flower garden that the previous owners of our house had kept, and I know nothing about growing flowers. Last year, when the beds got completely overgrown, I felt so bad because the garden was probably the pride and joy of the woman who lived here. It has beautiful roses, hydrangea, tulips, peonies… but I was pregnant and not very mobile or energetic when we moved in, and knowing very little I opted just to watch what the plants did for a year and then make decisions.

Sarah: Good idea, watching and waiting. And it’s sadly true that a garden often doesn’t last past the gardener who created it. Peonies and irises are one thing that do remain when a garden goes to seed. The peonies will wait for you.

So this garden was your first real chance to dig in your own piece of dirt?
Yes, other than my family home while growing up, I’ve always lived in apartments, without outdoor space.

Sarah: It’s such an exciting process, finally getting to grow something in actual soil, not to mention the fun of harvesting.

We’ll continue with Jodi’s garden, her highs and lows, and fun of harvesting in next posts. Tune in. And let us know about your own gardening adventures.

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