I've been gardening for over 30 years. In my early 20's I stumbled on an issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine and became a subscriber. I quickly became a devotee of organic gardening and set up a compost bin more than 25 years ago. Enough years have gone by that I no longer have to explain why I bother to grow organically and have the advantage of decades of experience.
Thanks to my concurrent 30+ years in the fireplace industry and managing our family business, VICTORIAN FIREPLACE SHOP, I have also suffered from severe back problems since my late 20's. Several years ago my husband Mike was at the home of a customer, an elderly Asian man in his late 80's, who had raised garden beds that made it easy for him to still be an avid gardener. Mike borrowed the concept and built some raised beds that allowed me garden with less strain on my back too. Again, I happened to be well experienced by the time it became trendy to grow in raised beds. I was easily able to grow huge amounts of food by using close-planting techniques (also called square foot gardening), vertical gardening elements and companion plantinq techniques and successive plantings throughout the season to get the most yield from my 10 raised beds.
I was over 50 before I tried my hand at canning so that I could preserve some of my food abundance. I WAS HOOKED! Home canned goods are so delicious and I get a great sense of accomplishment from shelves full of food that I grew myself.
I had an epiphany in the past year - I refer to it as my mid-life crisis - and decided to truly challenge myself by expanding garden beds and planting enough food to sell the excess. So I've cut back on my time at the fireplace store and work just 2 days a week so I can devote 5 full days a week to work at farming. My aim was to offer primarily cut flowers for this season, supplemented by some of our world-famous Hanover tomatoes plus some jams and jellies from our fresh organic fruit. My young chickens should be providing us with lots of organic eggs later this summer, too!
|Mother's Day 2013. I'm in the middle, my mom is on the left, my daughter is on the right and my mom is holding my grandaughter. Mom and Jessica are both avid gardeners, and we'll make sure Ellie gets a good gardening education, too!
My husband Mike and I live on just 5 acres, but at past 50 years old I'm going slow with expansion so I can try and keep it small, manageable and enjoyable. My challenge is to incorporate even more of the sustainable gardening techniques that I have studied in order to reduce the need for tilling, weeding and watering. I've been a devoted seed saver for many years, which has enabled me to concentrate on the best varieties of plants to grow with high yields and great taste in vegetables and herbs, and the most self-sufficient flowers that grow in our area with minimal care. I hope you'll try some of the great flowers and produce that come from our small farm. I would never sell you something I don't feel great about eating myself. Except brussel sprouts and butter beans, that is, because while I don't like them myself I realize that you might.
For my own personal entertainment, I spend obsessive hours on Pinterest researching fun gardening and landscaping projects plus recipes and DIY projects. I'll share pictures of the results, and explain how to do them so you can try them yourself!