Can you believe it’s already the last month of the year?? Our last 2019 Gardener of the Month gives us a great reminder of what gardening is really about – fresh food, good health, and helping the environment! He says, “I love to plant and utilize various plants in my garden that not only provide me with food, but also contribute and interact with each other and the ecosystem around it. Gardening can be so regenerative to our own mental and physical health, as well as that of the living world we garden in.” We couldn’t agree more!
What inspired you to start gardening?
I first learned to garden with my dad, who I will forever associate with the smell of fresh tomato plants and baskets of beautifully crisp tomatoes and cucumbers. That, in addition to the lessons that my mother and grandmother have taught me, caused me to be interested in gardening from a young age. As I grew older, my family would teach me how to cook the food we grow, and then I went to college and studied biology, which is what really grew my love of the idea of growing not only for a crop but for a multi-level sanctuary.
Describe your garden.
My garden is adventurous. It’s a combination of herbs, fruits, veggies, flowers, and ornamentals. I’m never really done with my garden planning. It always has something new, and it always has something that leaves me constantly turning to Google or magazines or fellow gardeners for help.
What has been your biggest gardening fail?
I once thought that the squash lady beetles that were plotting an infestation were ladybugs…. So I distributed them to more plants…. For those of you who know what squash lady beetles do, yeah. It was as bad as you could guess.
What’s one piece of advice you would give a beginner gardener?
Don’t be afraid to have plants die because you don’t know what you’re doing. How many plants start off as a tiny brown/black/otherwise dark-colored seed? Your green thumb just needs to be nurtured. It’ll come.
Do you cook? What’s your favorite dish to make with your harvest?
I love cooking! One of my favorite recipes is based loosely on a salsa you would expect to pick up at a Mexican restaurant. After chopping your tomatoes, jalapeños, onions, garlic, and cilantro, heat a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on high heat in a saucepan and then pour in your entire mixture. It creates what is essentially a flash-fry, and gives the flavor so much dimension. I then simmer my salsa on medium heat until it’s thicker and less watery.
Do you have any other hobbies?
I listen to lots of music, I have pets to take care of, and I am currently taking some classes while preparing to apply to graduate school, so that takes up a lot of my time.
Do you know any gardening jokes? If so, tell us one.
Why are potatoes good detectives? They’re good at keeping their eyes peeled.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you.
Rainy weather makes me truly happy. Most people around me feel that rainy days bring them down, but I have always had a special connection to rainy days. They just feel nourishing and comforting.
If you had a personal theme song, what would it be?
“Dancing’s Not a Crime” by Panic! At the Disco. SUCH a jam.
Anything else you’d like to share?
In my dream life, I will be a Physician Assistant with a hobby farm. I’d love to have a horse or two, some chickens, and a couple decent fields to grow whatever feels right that year.
Did you know that all of our 2019 Gardeners of the Year were sent a sample box of our 2020 new varieties? (Pictured below are Mardi Gras Fun snack peppers and Redarling brussels sprouts grown by @kyle.mcgardener!) Are you interested in becoming a 2020 Gardener of the Year? Follow our Instagram account (@burpeehg)! We will be asking for submissions one more time before mid-December when we choose our 12 new gardeners for 2020!