We had a garden growing up. My dad would spend hours outside, tending to the rows of corn, zucchini plants and sunflowers. My job was to harvest peas, which often resulted in me sitting on an overturned bucket, eating every snap pea that I plucked from the vine. I’d watch my dad, happy in his element, and we’d just enjoy this quiet time together.
Times were simpler then.
But the joy of gardening is still deeply rooted in my soul. It’s an experience that I can share with my daughters, ages 9 and 12, who often want nothing to do with pulling weeds… but find themselves lingering while I tend the plants.
Last night, as I was fretting over my tomatoes, my youngest daughter (she’s a twin, so younger by exactly one minute) launched into a story about something that happened at school that day. It was mostly idle chit chat, about a friend who was trying to teach her some sweet karate moves, but I realized that it’s in the garden when we tend to spill our guts. We all talk more over these plants. We listen more. We smile more.
At the end of the day, gardening should not feel like a chore, but instead a soulful experience that connects you to something bigger than yourself. I have experienced many occasions when I felt overwhelmed or frustrated with the reality of living in a pandemic, and I’ve simply walked into the garden and started pruning. It is in those moments that I have realized how grateful I am to have something (other than a cell phone or laptop) to put my mind at ease.
Fall gardening is a special treat! Many of you are entering the cool season (we in Houston are in ‘warm season II’). It’s a great time to plant broccoli, kale, cauliflower, beets, carrots, lettuces, beans and peas!
Before we plant, let’s talk about how we can set ourselves up for a healthy and bountiful harvest. There are four critical factors to consider.
If any of this feels overwhelming, the best place to start is with a good book. Kitchen Garden Revival is my go-to for every aspect of kitchen gardening, from layout and design to harvesting and planning ahead for the next season.
Nicole Johnsey Burke is the author and founder of Rooted Garden, a leading culinary landscape company dedicated to bringing the art and joy of the kitchen garden back to homes across the country. She’s a wealth of knowledge, and will inspire you to get planting!
Jen McDonald lives in Houston, TX with her husband, three daughters and two pups. She is the newest Garden Consultant with Rooted Garden, and is thrilled to combine her passion for home styling and gardening into one dream job~ kitchen garden design.
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