I remember from a young age, spending so much time outside. My grandmother lived on our property and her garden space was abundant with flowers and beauty. She was outside working on her garden daily and that is a vision of her I hold dear to me. My mom was also very passionate about growing food and she had me from the age of 3 outside sowing seeds with her. My favorite part of the garden experience was when my mom made homemade pickles with our cucumbers—they were SO delicious. It was then that I understood how special it was to enjoy the bounty of our gardenmonths after the garden finished producing for the season. Today, when I think of my grandmother, I remember a few distinct things: spending time with her out in her garden, baking cookies together, drinking tea and lots of cuddling. I really feel my grandmother with me when I am in my garden.
If you have seen some current images of our garden, you will see that it is pretty magical. It is a beautiful, enclosed space that was designed by us and some imaginative builders. We wanted to add elements of sacred geometry and complimentary shapes that were unique and also efficient. We put the space in 3 years ago, and it has truly become our sanctuary.
It hasn’t always been the case, though, where we had a huge, picture-perfect garden space. At our last house, we put in some simple 4” raised beds alongside our house. We didn’t have much space, but we made the most out of it and grew what we could! Regardless of the size, the space felt enchanted and sacred with our bounty growing and thriving. We have made plenty of mistakes along the way, but that’s been the best part!
I’ll share one funny story: When we moved to our new property and built the garden 3 years ago, a dear friend came up to visit and gifted us some starts from her garden (we love being gifted plants and garden things that will grow and love gifting those things, too. It’s so fun!). Our friend gifted us some pumpkin starts and what we thought were potatoes. We planted everything and they thrived in our space. As the ‘potatoes’ started growing, they grew these BEAUTIFUL flowers like I’ve never seen before. I instantly started googling potato flowers, and they looked similar. We continued to see more flowers and realized that they might not be potatoes, after all. We called our friend and they weren’t… They were dahlias! HAHAHA… SURPRISE!
The seedlings sprouted into cute little starter plants, and we thought they would THRIVE this year. Well, it turns out that the seedlings need more care than we anticipated. We transplanted them into the garden and only a few survived. This is the second year that we didn’t fully succeed in planting from seed. However, we learned A LOT from last year to this year. The seedlings got bigger than last year, and they looked really promising. We tended to them way more this year than last year, too.
There’s a term we learned called ‘hardening off’ where you start exposing the pampered seedlings to the outdoors for a few hours each day before transplanting them. This helps them to prepare for the transition to complete outdoor living. Well, we SCORCHED the baby starts. We left them out in the sun too long and they became sun-bleached. We proceeded to try to put them in the ground and only a few have taken off. Thank goodness for the local farmers market and shops where we can go and purchase hardy starts. Note for next year: place them outside in a shaded area (not direct sunlight) to harden off
And this is why I feel called to share about our garden. I know people are interested in growing their own food. People love and admire our garden space. However, you don’t need a big garden space or an acre lot to grow your own food! You could begin by growing fresh herbs indoors or a tomato plant or two on your patio. We all have to start somewhere, and what’s the worst thing that could happen? Maybe you’ll have to go to the store/farmers market to purchase tomatoes if yours don’t grow. Or, you could use dried basil from your spice cabinet instead of fresh. We are so lucky to live in a place where food grows abundantly. So why bother growing your own?
Growing your own food is one of the most rewarding things you could do for you and your family. It truly connects you to your food and provides so much grounding and pure joy on a daily basis. Putting your hands in the dirt, touching the plants you’re growing, eating them right off the plant, cooking with them, and sharing what you grow with friends and family is not only joyful, but so beneficial for your health.
As we were planting our garden this year, our dear sister and friend came to join for the planting party. Our friend is Laloni Cook—owner and operator of Apricity Vineyard in Grants Pass, OR. They grow and make their own wine in the most organic and ecological way. “We are proud to farm biologically produced grapes of the highest quality, reflective of our passion for natural agriculture and the health of the vineyard. The results are unparalleled, ecologically inspired wines. Our grapes are grown completely chemical free. That means no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides of any kind are ever used. Our focus is on the microbiological health of the vineyard ecosystem. We call it “(micro)biology to bottle.””
We were all talking and were so inspired by one another as we were planting our garden starts and felt called to share her plant wisdom with you all.
I asked her some questions and here are her responses:
What advice would you give someone who was trying out gardening for the first time?
“Patience and Presence: two very important words in every organic garden.”
If you only had a small amount of space, what would you plant?
“Small space gardening is so fun. It’s amazing how creative you can get. Cherry tomatoes are such a great container edible and they provide a nice lattice between balconies or patios for some organic privacy.”
What is the easiest thing you have grown that you choose to plant every year?
“I always grow zucchini squash. The abundance is instantly gratifying in the gardening world.
Every year I always add something new to my garden as well. I find lots of great heirloom seeds or starts at Siskiyou Seeds online or local plant fairs. Don’t forget to bring your red wagon, you’ll leave with more than one new varietal.”
Why can’t you live without gardening? How does gardening make you feel?
“The gratitude one may feel from gardening stimulates many levels of your brains limbic system….which in return contributes to overall wellness and most of all relaxation.” Check it out here.
What is a mistake that you made gardening that you learned from?
“Quality over Quantity: Give your plants space and enough soil to spread its roots and branches. This will give you a higher quality yield and more room to manage pests that may try to move into dark over-crowded areas.”
What are a few ‘tricks’ that you’ve learned along the way?
“I’ve learned no matter how high I make my raised beds….the slugs are going the distance as soon as the sun goes down. I recently discovered they will not cross blackberry vines. So, I suggest cutting some large whips to create a border around your precious greenies.”
Any advice growing from seed?
“Again, patience and a nice sunny window so your seedlings can incubate.”
Where are your favorite garden stores to shop?
“My favorite stores are plant stores… I love going into nursery’s for not only plants but gifts and yard tools. Every nursery has different industry favorites and random varietals of plants they favor. I am definitely one of those ladies that will stop for just about any plant sale or nursery that crosses my path. Saturday Markets are also a gem.”
What are some must-have tools?
“My go-to tool is always my clippers. They are my constant.”
Laloni’s book recommentations:
Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide TO Radical Self-Reliant Gardening
Garden Anywhere How To Grow Gorgeous Container Gardens, Herb Gardens, Kitchen Gardens, an More—Without Spending a Fortune
You can follow Apricity Vineyard on Facebook.
Thank you to Laloni, Terces, Brock and Zenaide for helping us plant our garden this year, and to Laloni for sharing her wisdom and wine with us! Cheers to everlasting growth and wisdom.
Stay tuned for the Garden Series Part 2 coming up!