Rhonda Daniel and her family have a beautiful 6 acre location in SW Central Iowa. Their Iowa family garden is one of Rhonda’s joyous times throughout the growing and preserving season. The family/cousin connection with Rhonda and her tribe made the spring conversation about their gardening even more special. One of the benefits of social media, particularly Facebook is the photos. I love seeing pictures online of Rhonda, her gardening and family. A lovely tribe of red-haired children!
Interview with Rhonda Daniel
The Legacy Gardens: 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?
Rhonda D: We love living on our 6 acre acreage and will be coming up on 10 years now of “Living the Dream”. I try not to be greedy and really like to share with others. For me I see this place not only for my personal space to enjoy but for our kids and our family and friends.
It has definitely been a labor of love and feel pretty fortunate that we get to experience this way of life and get our four kids involved. It has definitely been a family affair. It was especially handy to have a brother in law with heavy equipment to come in and help “Tame the Jungle”.
Mixing Memories with Fresh Air and Sunshine
We have done quite a bit — and I mean a LOT —of cleaning up around here over the years and feel we just scratched the surface. We mostly kept things where they were after we unearthed it. With our flower beds we just kind of encased everything in field rock which was hand-picked up from our very own families’ fields and just let it organically flow.
I added some of our cherished heirloom plants such as my Great Aunt Martha’s Rose bush, my Mom’s lambs ear, and my Sisters Irises and Daisies. So much of it was over grown so after mowing things down did we see what was what. We found lots of Lily’s, Lily of the Valley, Lilac bushes, Daffodils, Hostas, Columbine and Solomon Seal to name a few.
It helped to have a Master Gardener and Flower Fanatic Sister to help find a name for them all. We even found black raspberries.
Because Rhonda Is ‘family’, I am familiar with her mother Pat’s love of plants and flower beds. We had our own personal adventures digging bulbs at my place to share in Iowa flower beds. Rhonda’s Great-Aunt Martha was a woman whom I loved and admired. Master Gardener sister’s ‘flower brains’ are super resources to have for the names. I’m so happy that Rhonda preserves Iowa family garden memories with flowers and plants which are personal heirlooms. Right down to the decorative rock from family farms…rocks with a story that can go on for generations.
growing variety in this Iowa family garden
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?
Rhonda D. We seem to grow about everything and are very adventurous here.
Now days our focus is primarily on feeding the herd so to speak, or anything the kids will eat. Sweetcorn is our biggest crop. Then Tomatoes for canning Pasta Sauce and Salsa. The kids like to help with planting potatoes especially when they get to stomp them in at the end.
My favorite right now is Asparagus and have been freezing it about every day now for a week. Might need to let it grow out soon though. Rhubarb is just starting to peek as well.
These kiddos have the benefit of knowing where their food comes from, learning safe, healthy methods, getting out in the fresh air and most valuable of all spending time with Mom and Dad plus other family in their Iowa family garden.
Zone 4 and 5 good for Iowa family garden
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?
Rhonda D: We live on the line of Zone 4 and 5. It is very challenging here in West Central Iowa and have found that the weather especially in the Spring fluctuates day by day. Just when you think you kissed winter goodbye, here comes a night with a hard frost. It’s challenging for me not to get so anxious about uncovering things and planting things too soon in the Spring. Everyone around here seems to be getting the gardens in and going late this Spring. Very similar to last year as well.
TLG:The happy spot for you about your garden. The part or season you like best
Rhonda D: My happy spot is shared time between the patio and the hammock. The two relaxing places I can see the fruits of my labor in the gardens.
The part I love best is seeing the kids get excited when things grow before their little eyes. They love “Farming” as do I. I love having an outlet and like that I get to live out a family legacy.
Family gardens offer multiple benefits to the gardeners who participate. Negotiations about what to plant develop social skills for all ages. Choices that fit the group appetites or offer a chance to try something new are part of the annual garden plan. More decisions and discussions about the preservation plan add to the communication skills. Will we freeze it all? Or shall we can some in glass jars to sit beautifully on the shelves? Don’t forget drying a few things.
Activity helps is not a myth. Exercise and fresh air while the soil is prepared, seeds planted and covered give adults and children a family sport for minimal cash and ample healthy benefit. Kids and grown-ups enjoy a good session of sweat, clean-up and a siesta for a joyful day!
Children learn food doesn’t grow in the freezer, jars or metal cans. They learn to tend a living plant and to harvest a crop. All the while, their parents have a better idea of fertilizer resources and pest control policies. We are grateful for the wonderful produce available at our supermarkets. But every season, we get a ‘scare’ from some sort of contamination mismanagement. Responsibility for that mismanagement fits at all contact levels from grower to seller to table.
Iowa Family Gardens enjoy good soils
The Daniel Family can especially enjoy their garden as it is part of their home parcel, right outside the door for easy access. Easy to slip out in the morning hours to see which seeds are popping through the soil. Or later to pick a few tomatoes and slip one into a happy mouth on the way back to the house.
Their part of SW Central Iowa, Carroll County, lies in the drainage of Middle Raccoon River with deep, rich Waukesha Silt/Loam soils, ample rain fall, and good well water from Dakota Sandstone aquifer. Soils are varied throughout the county, influenced by glacial activity. Carroll County, Iowa does its share of representing the Breadbasket of America with large farms and beautiful family gardens.
I always enjoy talking with friends and family about gardening. Learning more about my cousin’s family activities brought big smiles as we pursue veggies and weeds in different growing zones! How about YOU? Have you talked to neighbors and family about gardens recently? Please share your stories in the comments below.