Meet Our May Gardener of the Month: @deannacat3!
AT A GLANCE:
Where you live: Central Coast of California
Day job: Environmental Health Specialist
Favorite color: Green, Blue & Purple (I can’t choose just one!)
Favorite holiday: Thanksgiving – Cooking all day? Yes please.
Favorite veggie: Bok Choy
Favorite activity (other than gardening): Raising monarch butterflies
Favorite movie: Almost Famous
Describe your garden.
Our garden encompasses essentially every outdoor space on our modest 0.19-acre property, including the front, back, and side yards! We have a total of 15 redwood raised garden beds mixed amongst dozens of fruit trees and probably hundreds of flowering perennials – including edible shrubs, medicinal flowers, and herbs.
In the front yard, there are cobblestone-lined pathways, large steppingstones and gravel mulch between the raised beds, with a wilder perimeter of trees, shrubs, vines, and flowers.
In the back yard, the patio garden and other raised beds have small fences around them and small bark mulch on the ground, since we allow our spoiled chickens to free range in the backyard.
On the side yard, we have a small greenhouse, the chicken coop, several large rainwater storage tanks, compost bins, a potting bench, and our largest passion fruit vine.
Our property is a Certified Wildlife Habitat as well as a registered Monarch Waystation.
Tell us about how your garden has evolved from when you first started gardening.
Oh goodness… it’s like a completely different world. When we first started gardening, we were living in rental properties - so we stuck to just a couple modest raised beds (with our landlord’s permission) and grew food in containers. It was a funny hobby, but definitely not the all-encompassing lifestyle we’ve gotten ourselves into now! Even once we bought our first (current) home, we started with a couple of raised beds - and then there was “the rest of the yard”. Slowly over the last 7 years, little-by-little and one project at a time, we transformed this property from barren yards of half-dead crabgrass to what it is now. I always like to remind people who are just starting out to be patient and enjoy the ride! All those years and projects were invaluable learning experiences, hard work, and FUN.
What’s the hardest thing about gardening?
Time, and balance! I never have enough time to do all the things I feel like we “need” to do in the garden, along with the free time to sit back, relax and simply enjoy our garden space too. But don’t worry, we do plenty of the latter – which means that sometimes I have to let go and let the “need-to-dos” fall by the wayside.
You are a true artist! Your garden, food, projects, and photos all have such an artistic eye. Do you have a background that lends itself to this or is it just something you have a knack for?
Geesh, you’re making me blush over here! Thank you for the compliment. Well… I suppose I have always been fairly creative and artistic. I have loved photography ever since I was a little girl, and later took photography classes in both high school and college. When it comes to the garden landscape and projects, I get these little visions or spurts of inspiration that I have to sit down and immediately sketch – sometimes even in the middle of the night. I guess it seems pretty strange when I put it that way!
What are your top 5 favorite gifts to give from the garden?
Homemade calendula oil, jars of dried seasonings like turmeric or lemon powder, homemade sauerkraut and other fermented veggies, baskets of passion fruit, and fresh eggs
Okay, okay, since your IG tagline is “Crazy plant-chicken-cat lady,” we have to ask… how many chickens and how many cats do you have? Do they enjoy the garden?
Haha! Only 3 cats and 4 chickens, so not toooo many, right? But I love them fiercely, like children and/or best friends. I talk to them in funny voices, including cats and chickens that are not my own, and often on video or in public, so maybe that is where “crazy” comes in to play? The cats stay indoors, so they get to enjoy the garden (and birds!) through the windows and screen doors only. The chickens are spoiled and free range the back yard - so yes, they thoroughly enjoy the garden (more like thoroughly enjoy digging holes in it)! While they can’t access the raised beds themselves, we share plenty of kale and cabbage worms with them.
As a 2020 Gardener of the Year, you’ll receive 2 sample boxes of Burpee Home Gardens’ 2021 new varieties… one for you and one for a friend! Who will you give your second sample box to and why?
Sweet! We are so excited! I will share the second box with my good friend PJ. He is a fellow avid gardener and plant nerd, and now that he is retired, he has nothing but time to play with new plants! I love sharing garden goodies with Paul because he has always shared them with us too. I also owe him for introducing me to many wonderful things over the years. He was the one to teach me about air plants, greenhouses, and espalier-style fruit trees!
Burpee Home Gardens is excited to be sending our 2020 Gardeners of the Year a sample box of our 2021 new plant varieties. To get a sneak peek, be sure to follow them on Instagram! To see more of Deanna’s gardening adventures: follow her on Instagram @deannacat3 or on her blog www.homesteadandchill.com!