Black Thumb?  No More!

I suppose I can’t say I have a black thumb anymore! Hello out there! I’m Emily and I have a moderate sized garden in my backyard, inside the Johnson City limits.  I’m a long time organic farmer’s market shopper and before this experience, I killed every house plant I ever owned and some yard plants too!  I’ve never even attempted to grow food before this. Has it gone perfectly? Absolutely not! Have I grown and fed my family healthy produce this summer, YES!  I’ve liked the idea of having a home garden for a few years now but really believe if I hadn’t been selected for this program it would never have become a reality. Growing my own food has to be one of the most satisfying things I have ever done. What I’ve noticed in my few short months as a gardener is that gardening parallels life. I could probably write a novel about the lessons I’ve already learned (and I know I will learn even more in year two!) I will stick with a couple big takeaways for the time being.  As in life having a village makes an experience more enjoyable and successful and you don’t need to be an expert before starting something new.

This program has been excellent because it does provide a village to help out.  When telling others about the program they are simply amazed someone came and tilled my yard so I could get started. This is a big first hurdle if you don’t live on a farm with equipment or know someone who can provide you this service. I’ve been out of school for a decade but listening to the monthly classes on various gardening topics has been helpful and super interesting.  Help is just a message away. The lovely ladies in this program are happy to help with issues and a friendly Facebook group is good for moral support and answers as well. There are also other individuals and resources that have been made available to us.  It is very comforting to know you don’t just have to go it alone.

Getting into this program gave me the impetus to start gardening without being an expert and to learn and troubleshoot as I went along. I didn’t know how much I didn’t know and I still had quite a few great outcomes from my plants- an abundance of kale, arugula, beans,  and tomatoes was really positive for my first year! Some of the things I learned were painful and also amusing.  Some garden bloopers for your amusement:  After every thunderstorm with bad winds I had to go prop my corn and peppers back up. Did you know corn should be planted in a square? Or that pepper plants do better staked or in cages? I definitely didn’t, but do now!  As in life, complacency is not your friend. I sure wish I had sprayed my broccoli from the beginning but it was another thing I really didn’t know.  I lost ALL my broccoli plants to cabbage moth caterpillars. Tomatoes, when not controlled, will crowd out everything else. Oh those poor pea plants and cucumber plants! Many other lessons were learned and I hope to remember them for future planting! 

I have SO much more reading and learning to do; hopefully a lifetime’s worth! I am very glad to have had this chance to tackle the challenge of learning something new and develop a tasty new hobby.