It’s that time of year again — Feature Month!! We have some returning participants as well as some new faces for you. As always, I have completed the questionnaire alongside my fellow gardeners. This year was what my husband calls my “gap year” of gardening. We bought a new house in April and, not knowing what my gardening situation would be, I decided to rent two plots at the local community garden just in case I didn’t have a space…or we didn’t find a house. If you’ve been following along then you know we found a house and the yard is a work in progress (tree clearing starts Monday!!) so I’m glad that I rented the extra space. Gardening has become such a staple in my life, I can’t imagine a summer without it. That said, there were months where my focus was entirely on moving into the new house and completing new-house projects and my garden inevitably got neglected. But, that is the beauty of gardening. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be exactly what you need.
Name: Meg Rice
Grow Zone: 7a
Gardening style (container, raised bed, tilled plot, etc.): Historically all styles, but 2021 has been in tilled plots and containers.
How long have you been gardening: 30+ years (thanks Grandma!)
Why do you garden: As my scientific career has become increasingly stressful I find myself escaping into my gardens more and more. It is a place where I can do what I want, when I want. A sanctuary devoid of deadlines and meetings, requirements and restrictions. If I don’t get to it this week, no big deal. If I don’t get to it at all, not the end of the world. My space and my creation, on my time. A place where every “defeat” is a lesson that leads to future success in my own endeavors, no one else’s. Solace.
Do you typically garden alone or with friends/family/pets: I garden alone. My husband always helps when I ask, without objection, but I don’t usually want help. It’s my “me time” and I typically don’t want to share it. Oddly enough, as much as I like to indulge in the act of gardening alone, I truly do enough sharing the interest. I run this blog, try to answer as many questions for friends and family as possible, host a seed swap and ultimately enjoy chatting about gardening whenever the opportunity presents itself…contradictory, I know.
Biggest success of 2021 season: I haven’t decided if the tomatoes are a success or not but if the answer ends up being “yes” then it’s a big yes. Pun intended.
Most unfortunate failure (lesson) of 2021 season: Critters. I planted Roc d’Or for the first time this year and found them surprisingly delightful. Unfortunately, so did the meadow voles. Of the seven types of beans I planted, three of which were snap beans, the meadow voles LOVED the Roc d’Ors. I don’t blame them, they’re delicious.
What is your most used gardening tool: My husband bought me a set of Cobra Heads for my birthday and I have been pleasantly surprised by their multipurpose nature. I’ve used them to weed, transplant and harvest, amongst other tasks. Highly recommend!
Favorite plant that you’ve ever grown: Ever? This is hard for me. If I had to pick one thing, it would actually be something that I don’t have growing this year – Sugar Cube cantaloupes. They will be added back to the lineup next year. My husband doesn’t eat melons and the Sugar Cubes are small, just enough for one person. Plus, they are decadently sweet and VERY prolific.
What are you most looking forward to growing in the future: Peppers – we took a year off because I didn’t know how detrimental the periodical cicadas would be. I miss my peppers. Endless varieties. Next year we’re going to dapple in the insanely hot category. Trinidad Scorpions, 7 Pot Chocolates, etc. I can’t wait.
One last piece of advice for our readers: If something doesn’t do well for you don’t just write it off, it may be your seed source. Example: I grew Listada de Gandia eggplants three years in a row and the first two years they were just meh. Not overly colorful, mediocre flavor, lackluster plants, nothing to write home about. This year I used seeds from a different provider and my plants are thriving with robust, vibrant purple fruits. I know it’s human nature to assume that we are the problem, but it may not be you. Try a different source and see what happens, you’re probably not doing so badly after all.
Thanks for reading along. If you have questions or comments about the varieties, triumphs and/or tragedies described above please share your thoughts in the comments below. I hope you’ll check back in throughout the month to see what our featured gardeners have to say about their growing adventures. Cheers, friends!