It is May 2023 and I am in my third year of serious gardening (where I make an ACTUAL effort to not kill the plant instead of claiming I can’t keep even a cactus alive). The first serious year, 2020, I planted in 2 boxes, a 10×12 area of corn, and some pots. I harvested maybe 2 bags of food to eat, maybe. The next year I was a first year gardener with Build It Up and I harvested TONS more food. Making planting beds, amending soil, planning the garden and planting the garden took lots of time, and everytime I wanted to plant something I had to consult notes, online and my binder. I loved it but it took a lot of time just getting plants in and keeping weeds out. It is now my third serious planting season and I’m learning to get more done in less time! I have learned to use cover crops, start seeds, harden transplants, and succession plant. I am eating from my garden at least 2 meals per day already. Lots of salad. Yes. But it still counts! I am even eating radishes. Not yet sure what is so great about them, but I’m eating them. I planted a more reasonable amount of potatoes this year, and now need to learn to better store them. I threw out 2 wheelbarrels full of rotten and greened potatoes in January due to poor storage. Ooops. This third year I have improved my weed management, expanded my planting space, paid nothing for compost or amendments, played with intercropping, trying the florida weave, getting ahead of pests instead of crossing my fingers and hoping for the best, planting herbs for pest management, and not consulting books before everything I do (still got my nose in them though). My goal is to harvest more timely this year, waste less and take canning seriously, very serious. I will have shelves filled with various canned goods, organized by color, just like on Instagram. Just like on Instagram. Well probably not, but I at least will learn to preserve so that we can eat it throughout the entire year. I have also grown fond of bugs. I used to avoid them but gardening has expanded my love of nature. I am beginning to see the outside world in a wonderous way. I used to tolerate the stuff that made me uncomfortable, but now I immerse myself in nature like I had never allowed myself to do before. I am even holding spiders and teaching my youngest to be curious about them! This is all thanks to gardening. Gardening is a big fun experiment that has brought a lot to mine and my family’s lives. I appreciate all the work that BIU does and am grateful to be a part of the program and the community.