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Nov 1, 2020
Gardener of the Month: November 2020
Burpee  Edible Gardening Team Members

Meet Our November Gardener of the Month: @the.mocha.gardener!

Where you live: Graham, NC
Day job: I work in academia focusing in drug discovery-based research
Favorite color: Pink
Favorite holiday: Definitely Christmas!
Favorite veggie: Pretty much everything except raw tomatoes
Favorite activity (other than gardening): Spending time with my family and friends, and camping in national parks.
Favorite movie: Interstellar

Describe your garden.
Our garden has doubled in size since we began, but as of today, our total growing space is about 1645 sq. ft. Currently, we have 9 raised beds, which were designed and built by Tyler, my talented husband. If I had to pick a favorite bed, it would be the octagon trio bed (we call it “octagarden”).

Additionally, because we live in front of a forested area, we built a wire enclosure to help keep larger animals out.

How long have you been gardening? Any advice for a new gardener?
I have been gardening in this space since the spring of 2019.
My advice to a new gardener is to…
1. Research your hardiness zone to determine the types of plants that grow the best where you are
2. Connect with your state agricultural extension, and other growers in your area (social media is great for this too!)
3. Research growing techniques and establish the practice that works best for you
4. Plan out your space.
5. Do not be afraid to just dive in. As you grow your garden, let your garden grow you, too!

What’s the hardest thing about gardening?
The hardest thing for me was accepting that we cannot control nature. This is a humbling lesson, but a necessary one.

If you could have one gardening superpower, what would it be?
The ability to create a force field that is permeable to air, sunlight, pollinators, and birds, yet impermeable to hail, hurricanes, mosquitoes, and Japanese beetles.

We noticed that you’ve talked about how gardening runs in your family… especially with your papa. Would you let us in on one of your favorite memories?
My fondest memory of gardening is of me watching my grandfather prepare his garden each summer. He put so much effort and passion into maintaining the family’s garden, and I admired that. He also loves to share what he grows, so I never forgot how appreciative people were when he shared fresh produce with them. Now, I have the pleasure of working alongside him in my garden.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from your garden?
We had to learn to listen to our ecosystem, and work with it—not against it.

Indulge us for a minute, and brag about your she-shed…
Ah yes! The she-shed— my favorite spot on our property. The she-shed was also designed and built by Tyler. This project took us a little over 7 months to complete due to our day jobs.

We love the clean line, modern aesthetic with lots of natural light, so we wanted to incorporate that theme into our garden space as well. The high ceilings and sliding doors help to keep fresh air flowing in throughout the warmer months (the plants love it). And though the shed is fully solar powered, we built it with an electrical back up for the winter months.

Since its completion in April 2020, I have used this shed as a workshop/kitchen to process and can garden produce and start seedlings. Now, I must say, that we do not use this space for just work—the she-shed is also a garden hangout spot. It’s served as a true garden-to-table haven when we host guests.
So, Tyler and I built this garden space together with a lot of sweat and some occasional blood. Lol it’s been an incredible journey.

As a 2020 Gardener of the Year, you received 2 sample boxes of Burpee Home Gardens’ new varieties… one for you and one for a friend! Who did you give your second sample box to and why?
I decided to give my 2nd sample box to Green Rural Redevelopment Organization (GRRO), which is an organization in Henderson, NC that focuses on addressing the multidimensional problems of food security in one the most food insecure regions in NC. GRRO is not only working to build region-wide nutrition-based programs, but it consists of farmers who teach others to grow their own food. Moreover, the food produced on their farm, is delivered to those in the community through their mobile farmers market program.

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