Many years ago I had the privilege of being this amazing couple’s waitress on their very first date. They’ve come a long way since then; thriving careers, marriage, a beautiful home, two adorable children and, of course, fabulous gardens! Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce to you our first features and two of my favorite millennial gardeners, Megan and Ben.
Name: Megan and Ben Harvey
State: New York
Grow Zone: 4a
Gardening style (container, raised bed, tilled plot, etc.): We have six raised beds in a fenced area, plus some herbs in pots by the deck.
How long have you been gardening: We’ve been gardening together for six years, since we moved to the house. That was Ben’s first foray into gardening. My mom and grandpa always had gardens, so I’ve been helping to grow things forever. Now, my parents and grandparents live together and share a garden (Papa still gardens daily at 87), and we share a lot, from seeds to produce and bragging rights on who has the best peas this year.
Why do you garden: We both said the same thing when reading this question…’because we like to eat’! We love making a meal made partially or completely from produce we have grown. As our children grow, we hope gardening will be an opportunity for so many learning experiences for them. We want them to be able to know where their food comes from and how much fun it is to grow it.
Do you typically garden alone or with friends/family/pets: We garden together, and our daughter Lena is becoming a great helper. She is three, and loves to go to the garden to get ‘PEA SNACKS’! She also waters with us, and does pretty well at harvesting (if you count tiny beans and unripe tomatoes) and weeding (I’m actually impressed she hasn’t pulled out more veggie plants). At three months, Eric is just excited to be snuggled in the baby carrier outside.
Biggest success of 2020 season: We are proud to have several this year! Peas and beans are our old faithfuls; they do well when nothing else does, and this year is no different. But, we’ve had great success with peppers and tomatoes so far this year, and are just starting to harvest them. We also have one pumpkin! The powdery mildew got them last year, so we’re so excited! Lena gets right down next to it and says ‘I’m just watching this pumpkin.’ 🙂 Another general success is our discovery last year of just how important nutrients are to a successful garden (duh…we had always added some in each year but not nearly enough), and it’s been paying off this year.
Most unfortunate failure of 2020 season: We have a major pest problem. Our whole garden area is fenced to keep out woodchucks. At least, we think that’s been our main pest in the past. This year, we’ve been attacked on a few more fronts. We suspect chipmunks. Also, no idea what has eaten some of the tomato plants up high…it’s deer height but we’ve never seen any in there and aren’t sure they could get in anyway. For plants, our zucchini are just sad. Many of them rotted on the blossom end, and there’s some sort of bug all over them. We planted some strawberry plants and were SO excited for them when they did well this year, then something beat us to every. single. berry. Chipmunks or woodchucks?
What is your most used gardening tool: I thought of garden gloves right away…my hands get really dry in the dirt otherwise. I do take them off to plant the really small seeds though, hard to handle carrots that way. Ben said a hose, and he’s probably right in that being more useful! We water most days it doesn’t rain. We’ve been thinking about some sort of automatic watering system but haven’t figured that out yet.
Favorite plant that you’ve ever grown: Ben says, ‘it’s hard to beat the peas.’ We love the sugar snap ones so we can eat them pod and all (Lena’s infamous pea snacks). My favorite is whatever is doing well that year, because I get really excited about it and proud that something worked (and escaped the pests)!
What are you most looking forward to growing in the future: I am always up for trying new and interesting plants! Our biggest goal is to make our garden as productive as it can be for its size. We get decent yields from most of our plants, but we suspect we could be producing a lot more than we are. We have a lot to learn about what varieties to plant that will work the best for our area, and how/where to plant them for maximizing the use of our garden space.
One last piece of advice for our readers: Find out what you want to know about gardening and discover it! We’ve learned so much in the last six years, but there’s so much yet on our list to learn. Why do we have two beds of fabulous raspberry plants, but get about 10 berries total? How do we help them do better? No idea, but we’ll figure it out. What happened to the cucumber stems? Turns out it was slugs, and there’s a fix for that. We have a long list, and our discoveries happen slowly, but it’s fun to overcome an obstacle or two each year!
Many thanks to Megan and Ben for sharing their 2020 garden with us! Nothing brings me more joy than seeing my fellow green thumbs share their passion for gardening with loved ones. I hope that this feature has inspired you to grow your own pea snacks, and if you have any questions for Megan and Ben feel free to comment below. Cheers, friends!