Four lessons from my first real garden


“There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.”
– Janet Kilburn-Phillips

My mom’s mom had a garden. A massive garden from which she grew enough food to feed 10 children, and countless relatives and friends. As a kid, I’d eat peas off the vine and slip into her greenhouse to inhale its warm, earthy scent. Now, my kids call her Pumpkin Grandma, because the pumpkin fairy visits her garden to mark her pumpkins with their names. Her garden is magic.

My dad’s mom had a garden. As kids, we raided it for raspberries to eat with cream and sugar. We inspected them for bugs before placing them in our bowls, even though my grandpa swore the bugs were good protein. We searched for juicy gems hidden in the strawberry patch, while grandma crouched between her perfect rows, keeping them spotless of weeds. Her garden was pristine.

My mom had a garden. She taught us how to plan our own small plots, to plant, water and weed. We started each season with gusto, and when our enthusiasm petered and the weeds took control, she sent us out to pull and hoe. We entered horticulture competitions, occasionally beating the local pros with our marigolds and dahlias. We picked carrots and ate them, crisp and fresh, with the slight graininess of dirt. We learned to work and to reap the rewards. Her garden was a classroom and a playground.

So you’d think that gardening would be in my blood, yet it has taken me ten years of gardening, on and off, to finally achieve a reasonable amount of success. This is what I’ve learned. Continue reading Four lessons from my first real garden