If you have ever participated in a community garden then you know one of the best parts is walking around and observing each gardener’s masterpiece. It is a place where they can come to freely express themselves and there is a great deal to be learned from their efforts. One of my favorite things to do when I visit our local community garden, where I maintain a tilled plot, is to visit my dear friend Amee’s allotment. This year in particular, it is just teeming with pollinators. Bees, butterflies, dragonflies and more. It is a site to behold and an absolute pleasure to watch. I have taken great joy in seeing Amee’s gardening techniques develop over the last three years and she is truly someone with whom I enjoy pondering over the infinite details of garden life. From planning out space allocation to weekly maintenance and exploring new recipes, this millennial gardener has a great deal of insight to share with the gardening community and I am thrilled that she has participated in feature month!
Name: Amee Lewis
Grow Zone: Zone 7a
Gardening style: Both 15’ x 15’ community garden [tilled] plot and container gardening.
How long have you been gardening: I’ve been exposed to gardening since I was little, but really started gardening on my own about 3 years ago. My dad always grew cucumbers when I was little to make pickles. I loved helping him pick them when they were ready, and I really loved that he even let me eat them right off the vine. 😊
Why do you garden: I really am amazed by nature, so I garden mostly for pleasure. It truly amazes me that something as small as a seed can grow and produce flowers and fruit when given the proper love and care. I feel truly rewarded when my seeds start to fruit. I also love seeing the bees and butterflies enjoy the flowers on both flower and veggie plants. It makes me super happy to be able to give a little bit back to nature.
Do you typically garden alone or with friends/family/pets: Usually, I garden alone. Although, especially in the beginning, I gardened with Earthy Mrs. Rice. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from asking her a million question and watching her garden grow. I will also give my wonderful husband credit, as well. He always helps me till and work the soil in the beginning of the season, as well as weed and water throughout the season.
Biggest success of 2019 season: I am super proud of my sweet corn this year. I’ve never grown corn before but figured we would try it because both my husband and I love to eat sweet corn. I learned after planting my corn that you only get one ear of corn per stalk (which I never knew). They say if you’re lucky that you may get two. Our stalks are big and strong, and we did have several of them that gave us two ears of corn!! The corn was of the Silver Queen variety and it is so sweet that you don’t need any butter or salt. We will for sure grow corn again in the future.
Most unfortunate failure of 2019 season: I’ve been unsuccessful with tomatoes again this year. After last year’s failure, Megan gave me a Defiant tomato plant that was supposed to be resilient. While the plant looks nice and green, it only produced a few flowers and no fruit. I realized too late that it probably wasn’t getting enough nutrients, so Megan told me to give it some phosphorus. I’ve seen a few more flowers pop up after adding phosphorus, but unfortunately no fruit yet. I grow these tomatoes on my deck in a container which only gets a limited amount of sunlight so I’m thinking that next year I will try tomatoes in the garden which gets full light.
Favorite plant that you’ve ever grown: I have two favorites! One is the corn from this year and the other is watermelon from 3 years ago. Both are things I really love eating so it was so great to enjoy fruit that we grew.
What are you most looking forward to growing in the future: Pumpkins! I tried them this year and only got one pumpkin off the vine. I also planted gourds at the same time and they really took over the garden, so the pumpkin plant didn’t really have a chance. Next year, I will focus more on the pumpkins and I’m really looking forward to that.
One last piece of advice for our readers: ALWAYS make sure to thin your plants. I am guilty of never thinning plants because 1. I feel bad ripping out a living plant and 2. I am always afraid that I won’t get any fruit if I have less plants. I have areas where I have thinned out sprouts; the plants that I have left are happier and therefore produced better quality fruit. I have to remind myself to thin more often and that quality is better than quantity.
Many thanks to Amee for sharing some hard learned lessons. Thinning is always sad but well worth it in the end! If you have any questions about Amee’s gardening advice, feel free to comment below. I hope you enjoyed her feedback as much as I have and that it proves helpful with your future gardening adventures. Cheers, friends!