I am thrilled to announce that I will be featuring some of my fellow millennial gardeners over the coming weeks. As much as I enjoy sharing my gardening experiences with all of you, in hopes that I am helping you navigate your own green journey, I think it is critically important to consult a variety of sources when learning any new skill. I have therefore contacted gardeners that each bring something very different to the table. They garden in 4 different states (4 different grow zones) which means they battle varying climates and pests. Additionally, they utilize different gardening methods such as, tilled plots, raised beds and containers of all sorts. Some of these individuals have been gardening for years and some are just getting their feet wet. I am hopeful that by sharing their stories, they will provide relatable advice for readers of all backgrounds and experience levels.
Before I get started with this month’s features, I figure it is only fair that I fill out the questionnaire myself and share my responses with all of you as well. Each guest got a copy of the questions listed below and was asked to include some photos of their garden. I can’t wait to see what they share with us!
Name: Meg Rice
Grow Zone: 7a
Gardening style: Tilled plot, raised bed and containers of all shapes and sizes!
How long have you been gardening: 30 years across four different states (NY, MA, CO & MD).
Why do you garden: Several reasons. Putting a seed in the ground and watching it grow into a strong thriving plant has always been rewarding in ways no other form of “entertainment” could match. Not to mention, I’ve always had a fondness for creatures. All creatures. The therapeutic effect of watching an ecosystem develop in my own back yard gives me a sense of goodness and inner peace that nothing else seems to provide. It is my happy place, my escape. Plus, I
like love to eat. Since making the switch to primarily organic foods, my husband and I have both noticed a significant improvement in our gastrointestinal health and subsequently our overall health and well-being. If I’m growing it myself then I know for certain that it has not been tainted by unnecessary synthetic chemicals.
Do you typically garden alone or with friends/family/pets: All of the above though, admittedly, as much as I enjoy sharing my experience with those I hold dear, I am most appreciative of the quiet moments I spend alone with nature. This is how I recharge.
Biggest success of 2019 season: Overcoming angular leaf spot on my cucumbers, early in the season, to enjoy my first successful year of cucumber growth since moving to Maryland. (4 years) Cucumber variety – Summer Dance Hybrid, Burpee Seed Co.
Most unfortunate failure of 2019 season: Purple King pole beans. Initially I had identified a phosphorous deficiency in my raised bed. Easy fix. Or so it seemed…phosphorous levels are up and the rest of my plants have thrived since I adjusted the soil concentration (both slow release and liquid fertilizers were applied) but my beans just won’t stay happy. I fertilized weekly and they were still struggling. I assume they are just VERY inefficient at metabolizing phosphorous and unfortunately, I don’t feel they’re worth all the fuss, so I pulled all my plants this weekend. I did get a few small harvests but will not plant them again next year, I will try a new variety that is better suited to my environment and schedule.
Favorite plant that you’ve ever grown: We are pepper people. One of the most commonly used peppers amongst our friends and family is the jalapeno and Gurney’s Primo Jalapeno is a failproof option for gardeners of all experience levels. They have a nearly 100% germination rate (even when several years old) and they grow quickly into strong prolific plants that never disappoint. I cut back to just three plants this year and still cannot keep up with them. We use them fresh, pickled, dried and in our hot sauces. Highly recommend!!
What are you most looking forward to growing in the future: I am overwintering garlic for the first time this year and I am very excited to braid up my own mature bulbs next June. I selected a soft neck variety and plan to share this growing experience with all of you on this blog, early July 2020. Stay tuned!!
One last piece of advice for our readers: If your plants are not thriving there is a very good chance that it is not a reflection of your gardening abilities but rather that the plant family and/or variety that you have chosen is not right for your current gardening situation. Whether it be climate, nutrients or pests; odds are that an alternative variety is better adapted to your gardening environment. Do your homework and find plants that suit your needs. There are pest resistant, drought resistant, container sized, sun loving and shade enduring varieties for most fruits, herbs, vegetables and flowers; seek them out and give them a try before you call it quits.
I hope that you will tune in throughout the upcoming weeks to read what our guest gardeners have to say about their growing experiences. The best resource we have available to us is the knowledge shared amongst the gardening community and I am looking forward to learning right along with you as these green thumbs tell us their stories. Cheers, friends!