Gardener of the Month: July 2019

Burpee - Edible Gardening Team Members
Monday, July 1, 2019

 The Casual Gardener - @stephigardens

“Casual doesn’t mean not caring!”

July’s Gardener of the Month is a great inspiration to those who don’t always have as much time to spend in the garden as they wish they could. @Stephigardens says she knows her limits as to what she can take care of, so she keeps things on the smaller side. She loves planning and trying new things each year. She also shares what she learns each year through her blog ( Her goal is to inspire people to “try new things, explore the amazing outdoors and not worry about doing everything perfectly.”

What inspired you to start gardening?
My mom has probably been my biggest inspiration and resource for all things outdoors. My grandparents and parents always had flowers and vegetables growing in their backyards, and as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved plants and nature. So it was natural that I’d create my own garden space for vegetables, flowers, and as a bonus provide a sanctuary for pollinators and birds. I love sitting on the patio enjoying the flowers, the days’ harvests or watching an array of birds come to the feeders in my suburban backyard. Without my garden, I would be one very unhappy suburbanite.

Describe your garden:
I have a fairly traditional suburban yard and I recently had a friend describe my garden as “a pleasing riot of color and shape”. I grow what brings me joy. I love splashes of color, am fascinated by the textures of plants, and love fresh vegetables. One “rule” is that my garden will always have vegetables and marigolds.

Do you cook? What’s your favorite dish to make with your harvest?
I have always loved to cook. My favorite dishes highlighting my garden harvests are stir-fries, either as a simple vegetable side dish like sautéed radishes with balsamic vinegar or as a main dish with chicken or shrimp with an oriental flair. I go in the garden, see what’s ripe, and stir it up! It’s always different.

Some other favorite recipes:

This is a freezer slaw recipe I got from a friend when I mentioned I had a lot of cabbage one year.

Another is a great Squash or Tomato Au Gratin-perfect for those late summer days when these veggies are abundant.

Do you have any other hobbies?
Lots of them! I enjoy reading, cooking, traveling and needlepoint (nature prints of course). I’m also an avid outdoors person, enjoying birdwatching (have 203 on my lifetime list), hiking, kayaking and biking.

Favorite veggie?
I love growing garlic. Cucumbers and zucchini come in a close second, but in reality anything fresh from the garden is amazing (except kale, I’ve decided I really don’t like kale).

Any pets?
A Westie named Daisy, who loves green peppers fresh from my garden!

If you could describe yourself as a color, what color would you be and why?
Not really a description of myself as a color, but my favorite color is yellow. It reminds me of sunshine and warmth, something missing a lot of the year in the Midwest. I find it really cheerful and have always tried to paint a room yellow in the places I’ve lived, and even had a yellow car. You’ll also find yellow flowers in my garden.

Anything else you’d like to share?
Having a Midwestern garden means a very short growing season. We need to pack a lot into a few months so every day is an exciting adventure outdoors!

At Burpee Home Gardens, we’ve heard from many of our Midwestern gardeners (and others!) that have had a late start to the summer gardening season because of the rain. You can still have a successful July and beyond! If you’re looking for advice or help with your garden or any of your plants, visit us at

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