You know that all of us love our gardening projects. They feed our bodies and our souls with the produce and activity. I find the ‘soul’ therapy is enhanced when I have conversations with other gardeners. A recent interview with ‘garden friend,’ Dawn Smith (Crazy Organic Mama) drew me in with the enthusiasm and passion about healthy food production for her family. LIke many of us, she finds art form in her flowers and shelves of preserved foods.
The Legacy Gardens Visits With Crazy Organic Mama
Crazy Organic Mama has a wide range of topics for readers as she grows her way through the seasons in planting zone 6b.
Organic gardening is a passionate program for gardener, Dawn Smith. She is an avid blogger as well, generously sharing her experiences and theories.
Crazy Organic Mama has a PERSONAL garden. Sharing thoughts and plans with us at The Legacy Gardens reveals love of gardening, healthy food for her family and her generosity to readers.
Personal Garden or Family Garden?
TLG: Is your garden a personal place or a family garden? Or a ‘truck’ garden for market?
Do you ‘social’ garden with friends or garden clubs?
COM: My garden is all mine! I know that sounds funny, but I live with my hubby, mom and daughter. None of them have any interest in gardening, Although hubby is wonderful in that he’ll dig or build any garden contraption I need or want.
This year, he’s building me 4 new raised gardening beds. We have a lot of groundhogs and voles here, so chicken wire underneath any plot is a necessity. The raised beds are the easiest way to get the ‘rodent barriers’ in place. Plus, he’s going to build me a cage to grow blueberries and beds for strawberries, with covers. Those covers will keep out the birds, squirrels and whatever else wants to eat them.
He’ll do anything I ask, but then he says the rest of it is up to me. That’s ok, though, I get to do things my way (and who doesn’t love that?). Gardening is my escape, my time alone to think. And relax, even when I end up sweaty and scratched and dirty.
Gardening in the Genes
My dad and one grandma were avid gardeners and I know I got the genes from them. I wish I had understood what I was giving up by not asking my grandmother for her gardening advice when I had the chance! She was an amazing gardener. All on her own, she grew a massive (like almost an acre massive) vegetable garden until she was 90.
My dad’s love of gardening came to him later in life. We were both bitten by the ‘bug’, right around the same time. What I wouldn’t give to share a few more moments with him out in the garden! He’s been gone for almost 11 years now, but I still miss him.
Gardening Zone Challenges
TLG: Zone — what is your growing zone?
What are some challenges you deal with in that zone?
What do you like best in that zone?
COM: My growing zone is 6b. I really think I live in one of the best areas of the country to garden in. Being in Zone 6, of course, there are things that are a challenge to grow. But we also have winters that are cold enough to kill a lot of the diseases and pests that are such a problem south of us.
Gardening in the Favorite Zone
If I had one wish, I would wish for warmer, nicer springs here. It seems like we just go straight from winter to summer in many years. Those conditions can make for challenging times in the garden.
I’m very much a warm weather girl and really don’t like to be outside until the temps are in the 60’s. So I tend to end up putting off the maintenance stuff that needs to be done until it’s later than ideal. For instance, I really should be out now cleaning up my flower beds before things start really growing. But it’s only in the 40’s and that’s too cold for me!
Flowers or Veggies – Which to Choose
TLG: Do you grow produce or flowers? OR both? What are some of your favorites?
Do your friends stand in line for your extra flowers, fruit and veggies?
COM: I started gardening in 1994. For many years, I grew only flowers, figuring I could just buy whatever I wanted to eat. However, I went back to college in 2014 to get my Bachelor’s degree in Horticulture and learned so much about what’s wrong with our food supply. Then, I felt compelled to start growing good, safe food for my family.
I now grow most of the vegetables and fruits my family eats year-round. As my garden expands, I hope to make that 100% of the fruits and veggies we eat. If we had more land, I would probably raise animals for meat as well. Although I’m such a softie, I’d probably end up with 3 dozen pet chickens, a pet pig and a couple of pet cows).
As for favorite plants. Wow! That’s a tough one! For flowers, I truly love my peonies. I have both “regular” and “tree” peonies and I just adore the look and scent of their flowers. I also love sunflowers (although the stupid groundhogs ate them all last year!). Anything native is wonderful, not as much for how they look or smell, but for how they attract every kind of bee and butterfly imaginable.
This year’s experiment will be to grow 3 varieties of milkweed and raise monarch caterpillars. I’m really looking forward to seeing how that goes!
As for vegetables and fruits, that’s also tough! I grow green beans for canning, which we all love. I also grow TONS of tomatoes to can for spaghetti sauce and salsa, as well as for fresh eating. Although, last year, the wet summer did nasty things to my tomato crop! I’m growing several new-to-me varieties this year, including Brad’s Atomic Grape and Hungarian Heart, and looking forward to seeing how they do.
I also grow tons of cucumbers to make sweet and dill pickles.
Fruit Tops My List
I think my very favorite food crop, though, might be black raspberries. They’re something you can’t usually find in the stores (at least around here) and their flavor is amazing. Red raspberries just don’t compare. I’d like to grow gold raspberries as well, but haven’t gotten around to that yet.
Lucky Friends and Family!
Two years ago, I ended up with 315 lbs of tomatoes from my garden, so yes, my friends and family benefited from the stellar harvest!
Isn’t that the way? As gardeners and growers, we enjoy having some extra to share with friends, family, neighbors and needy.
Organic Gardening Happy Spot
TLG: What The happy spot for you about your garden. The part or season you like best
COM: What do I like best about my garden? How about everything?
- Being outside in the sunshine and
- digging in the dirt,
- watching the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds,
- pulling a fresh radish out of the ground or tomato off the vine and popping it into my mouth while it’s still warm from the sun and earth.
I can’t even begin to tell you what I like best because I like everything about it.
Of course, I get frustrated and tired when the squash bugs eat all my zucchini or I scratch myself all up on the raspberry vines, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons!
The Very Happiest Spot Is Outside of the Garden
I’m most passionate about helping new gardeners. I hate it when I hear someone say they would love to grow things but they have a black thumb. Honestly, no one has a black thumb. A little bit of education and a lot of practice will allow anyone to grow flowers or veggies
Mama is a Guide
I’ve tried to make my blog a place for new gardeners to get the information they need to find success, no matter what they want to grow. I have an entire section called garden basics dedicated to, well, the basics. I also offer a Resource Library to my email subscribers with lots of printable resources to help out. If you’d like to see some of what’s available, you can visit here to check it out and sign up.
I always suggest that, as a new gardener, you start with just a few varieties, and go for the easy stuff, like cucumbers or green beans, butterfly weed or pansies, even mint or basil if you like herbs. If you’re brand new, don’t try a dozen new varieties of crazy, exotic stuff or ultra-picky plants like hybrid tea roses right off the bat. You’ll just get frustrated and quit, and that’s sad.
Tools for Other Gardeners
Last, I’m so excited to finally have a Printable Garden Journal available for sale on my blog. I’ve looked for years for a journal that has everything I want in one place. Since I could never find it, I decided to make one. You’ll find pages for note-taking, seed inventory pages, information and charts on companion planting and crop rotation, plus much more! Feel free to visit here to see all that’s included. I know you’ll love it as much as I do!
No Till Gardening with Crazy Organic Mama
No-till is a favorite process for my small beds and containers. In “No Till Gardening: Making It Work for You,” Dawn wrote about her no-till practices. I utilize paper, old leaves mixed with plain old dirt to create growing medium. Recycling brown paper and cardboard for weed and moisture control are favorite and successful practices in our gardening.
We are convinced that a hardy earthworm population helps our growing efforts. We avoid over-fertilization all over. A few worms from the worm bins introduced into each container. They make themselves comfortable, working on the organic matter in the pot.
No till farming is just one of the topics you can find about at Crazy Organic Mama blog. Beginning and experienced gardeners will enjoy the reading. There is a gift list for gardeners that covers EVERYTHING. The Mason bee houses are coming to the top of my wish list!
Gardens Find Good Friends
I’m sure you’ll enjoy the reading at CrazyOrganicMama.com. Go over there and treat yourself to some good reading and very useful printables. I confess that I can get lost over there reading all of the information. So distracted that I have to force myself to come back to The Legacy Gardens blog to do my own writing! Or to The Legacy Gardens dirt to tend to my own garden! Please enjoy the slides featuring more views of the garden at Crazy Mama Organic
I would love you comments about your gardening experiences.