Gardener Profile: Meet Abby

Gardeners Journey

Abby in the Kids’ Garden at the Green Bay (WI) Botanical Garden

One of the most joyful parts of being a garden educator is hearing about the transformations that happen when I’ve helped someone dive wholeheartedly into gardening.  

I remember the first time I chatted with Abby in person. She met me in the parking lot of my last job to buy some garden supplies. She excitedly shared with me that she recently convinced her husband to dramatically expand their vegetable garden after taking one of my classes.

Abby now teaches other gardeners in her area and her garden will be featured as a stop on a tour for a regional gardening conference next year. I think that means her transformation is complete!

I’ve been so inspired and touched by her story that I asked her to share a little bit of her journey with you. Here it is in her own words…

Abby Tells All
My success with vegetable gardening is a fairly recent development.

I started with no knowledge or experience growing anything. I had a five acre mostly wooded blank slate. I tried starting my garden from seed for a few years. As soon as the new plants emerged, their little heads bent over and they fell over dead. If one survived any length of time, it would resemble an NBA player – tall and long legged.

I spent oodles of money on perfect tomato plants from the nursery. I lined them up in tidy rows in my garden. It was a beautiful sight for the first two weeks. Then the uninvited company arrived in the form of creeping grasses and sprouting weed seeds from a bottomless seedbank.  I hate to even mention the embarrassing fact that I didn’t even know how much sun a tomato needed to grow and bear fruit.

I was about to give up.  I had taken the master gardener classes and read articles written by experts. But, what I needed was someone to share their real life experiences with me. This is where the Creative Vegetable Gardener community came to my rescue.

I did not want to abandon my dream of being able to grow my favorite heirloom tomatoes. I decided to try a “personal trainer” who could walk me through the entire gardening process, from seed start to harvest preservation. Megan shared her successes, failures and techniques with me.

After my first classes with Megan, I sat enjoying my cup of coffee and inventoried my needs, wants and favorite veggies during the coldest month of the year. I was determined that vegetable gardening would provide me with an abundant, safe and organic food source the next summer. That is a process I still look forward to every winter. I count the days until the first seed catalogs arrive in the mail.

I never expected my garden to be so productive! After my past experiences, I NEVER expected vegetable gardening to be fun. I NEVER EVER expected to triple the size of my garden.

Maximizing space and methods of weed control have enabled me to try at least five different heirloom tomatoes every year. And it was all I could do to stop at five! I had to leave enough room to grow my other favorites like garlic and herbs, which happen to pair delightfully with tomatoes.

Learning about succession planting has allowed me to enjoy an endless supply of greens well into fall. My latest challenge is to see how many months out of the year I can harvest greens.  To me, that’s the true test of a successful and creative gardener. Now I’m embarrassed to admit how much money I spend on seeds, and I was warned!

It has been just a couple of years since I have joined the Creative Vegetable Gardener community. I have increased my food security and created a well-designed garden space. I throw in some annual flower seeds (Strawberry Fields globe amaranth, Love in a Mist and an array of colorful sunflowers) for added beauty. I have put up a few birdhouses and a birdbath in the veggie garden mix.

My favorite spot is the bench I planted in the middle of it all.  I often spend time there watching the butterflies and bees and enjoying the aromatherapy from the herbs heating up on a summer morning.

It is amazing to think that now I start every single plant in my garden from a seed.  It is immensely satisfying to fire up the oven on the coldest day in January and make a pizza with sauce made entirely from my garden’s goodness.  I have a bounty of preserved food in my freezer and in my pantry. Life is good!

Since I know you’re a food lover, you’re probably getting hungry from Abby’s story like I am! Good news: she’s offered up her favorite pizza sauce recipe. Yum! Download it here.

Start Your Own Success Story
Abby’s story illustrates that the best way to master the art of gardening is to immerse yourself in its transformative lifestyle. And when you do that with a community of other passionate gardeners? You learn more quickly, make less mistakes, and have way more fun.

In January 2016, I’ll be introducing The Flavorful Life Gardening Club — a new kind of gardening club built for avid food growers that are ready to up their gardening game together, while indulging more fully in all of the pleasures of the lifestyle.

If you’re passionate about fresh food and outdoor adventures, and possibly making 2016 your best gardening year of your life, keep an eye out for details coming soon. Early birds will be offered a delicious discount!



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