The Hippie Gardener

This is a story about how my organic garden came to fruition…

It started with an early spring morning. I was sifting through my inbox and the insane amount of junk mail and stumbled upon an email from Groupon titled, ‘Grow your own Organic Garden, $25 consultation’ .  Let me back up for a moment and note this was Megan A.C. (A.C = after career). I was searching daily for things to submerge myself in other than the daily play dates and Mom chat sessions about what my kid eats, their sleeping habits, what their poop looks like after eating Chick fil-a and the list goes on.  I knew the only way to survive this transitional phase was to find new hobbies. So why not organic gardening! I couldn’t grab my credit card fast enough to purchase the daily groupon deal for the organic gardening consult.  By the afternoon, I had a response from the Hippie Gardener.  Because blogs are public- I will rename the Hippie Gardener, Jack.  Jack and I corresponded via email and set up a time for the consult. I was so excited to learn a new hobby.  I immediately clicked over to Amazon.com and purchased the guide, Organic Gardening for Dummies.  After all, I should know a little something prior to our meeting.

It was Friday morning (later that week) and Jack was scheduled to come at 10am.  I was thinking that morning about the positioning of the garden in the yard. Even though I knew nothing about gardening- I had enough intelligence to know it would need plenty of sun.  Jack pulls into the driveway in his beat up chevy truck loaded with all of his gardening tools in the back. The first thing that came to mind was; I could have married someone like this had I moved to Colorado like I planned during my post college hippie phase.  Anyway, Jack jumps out and tucks his long golden curly locks of hippie hair behind his ears. I can tell right away he is a little shy. Of course, I give him the firm and aggressive sales handshake, look him in the eye intensely and start firing away questions.  Remember, I am only 5 months A.C.  Therefore, I am learning to tame my overly aggressive personality where an end result has to be met within 5 minutes. I can only imagine what is going through Jack’s mind.  I am sure he was thinking that I was another crazy suburban Mom who decided to take up gardening because it was the hip thing to do.  If those were his thoughts- they were spot on to the truth.

2 years later and Jack and I have become fast friends.  We have this weird communication where I try to pretend like I know what I am doing while Jack realizes he has to dumb it down for the suburban ‘wanna be gardener’ Mom.  It is a mutual understanding.  Before Jack pays a visit to me and my garden (which is about every 2-3 months) I usually find myself in a total panic to tidy up the garden and harvest the latest crops to ensure it looks perfect as if I am being graded by one of my teachers.  After all, Jack is my garden teacher and I aim to impress him.  My husband always knows when Jack is coming for a visit because 2 actions take place, (1) I am frantically cleaning up the garden and (2) I tuck away my Tory Burch and other designer wear and prepare the hippie wear. Namely, my birkenstocks and tevas.  Jack schools me on the bugs to look out for and how to maintain the plants and harvest at the proper times.  I must admit, I have learned a lot about gardening in the past 2 years and especially from Jack. He is very patient with me.  There are many stories I could share regarding my blooper moments in harvesting, but the one that tops the list was the first time we grew sweet potatoes. Jack comes in for a late fall garden check-up and asks me how the sweet potatoes are doing.  I stare at him blankly as I am unaware of any sweet potatoes growing because I do not see any potatoes in the garden. Jack giggles at me under his breath, I jump in my car to go run a few errands and upon returning to my home, I pull into the driveway and Jack has left me a bounty of sweet potatoes lined up on my sidewalk. I run into the house and yell for my husband to come see what Jack had harvested. He joins me on the sidewalk and says, “I didn’t know we had sweet potatoes growing” I say, “I did not either, I couldn’t see them.”  My husband grew up with a huge garden in his backyard. For decades, my father-in-law was very dedicated to gardening, so my husband had a foundation of knowledge.  At this moment is when I learned for the first time that potatoes grew in the ground. Yes, that’s right, the Midwest Irish girl did not or perhaps I knew and forgot (most likely the former) that potatoes did not grow like a plant and above ground. And that folks was one of my aha moments in gardening.

Maintaining a garden and especially an organic one, takes an exorbitant amount of time and tender loving care. I should be in the garden daily, but try to get out once or twice/week. In the fall and spring we especially enjoy the green leafy plants such as a variety of lettuces, kale, spinach and arugula.  In the summer we harvest lots of tomatoes, cucumbers and summer squash and fresh herbs grow throughout all four seasons. Recently, we planted a few pumpkins that will harvest soon.  Having the pumpkins will be fun for the kids.  Last winter we even blanketed one of the beds and continued to grow lettuce, carrots and herbs. The garden is a family affair for us.  My kids love to help me and they think it’s pretty cool that we eat out of our backyard.  I can only hope as our schedules grow busier that we can continue to maintain our family garden just like we find time to sit down at the supper table every night together.  Families who eat together, stay together.

Oh, I forgot to share one tidbit of information. Next year, I plan to take on my garden alone and without my teacher, Hippie Jack.  That should make for a very interesting follow-up post. I am sure I will chronicle the joys of composting this winter. Yuck.

Be well and always be nosey,

Megan

I made the best salsa this summer with Roma tomatoes and cilantro from my garden. I snagged it from the recipe book that came with the Vitamix.  Recipe is below and I am sure a food processor or high powered blender would work just as well.

California Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1/2 (55 g) medium onion, peeled
  • 1 (10 g) jalapeno chile pepper, seeds and membranes removed
  • 1/4 cup (5 g) fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 6 (672 g) ripe Roma tomatoes, quartered (24 quarters)

Directions

  1. Place first four ingredients and six of the tomato quarters into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Select Variable 1. (slower blend if using food processor or other blenders)
  3. Turn machine on and slowly increase to Variable 5.
  4. Blend for 15-20 seconds, using the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades. (use wooden spoon with other devices)
  5. Reduce to Variable 3 and remove the lid plug. Add in the rest of the tomatoes through the lid plug opening.
  6. Blend for an additional 10 seconds, using the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades. Do not over mix, leave chunky. Serve with tortilla chips.

Comments

  1. Your whim for a new hobby has turned into more than that! I really think that garden of yours truly started a new lifestyle for you, and I’m so glad you found that “something” that you can live and learn from.

  2. Shanna Shumaker says:

    This just may inspire me to return to gardening next year. Does Hippie Jack travel to Ohio? Lol.

  3. Nikki Floyd says:

    Megan, loved your gardening adventure. I also have a garden…2 actually! I started 3years ago. I now also do canning…green beans, salsa, spaghetti sauce, pickles, jalapeños, banana peppers and corn. I get great satisfaction when I open up my pantry and see all of our hard work. You mentioned it’s a family affair, it is at our house too but my kids do not get so excited! The entire time they are picking green beans they are saying “I promise, if we don’t have to pick these we will never eat them again”! And I am like “keep picking and think how much healthier they are for you”!. Now keep in mind they are17, 15 and 13…and ALL boys!!! To say the least they hate the garden! I’m sure one day they will appreciate it!

    • Wow! I aspire the become the gardener that you are. I haven’t ventured into the canning, but would like to- one day. And..I’m sure when my kids are those ages, they will no longer have an interest. :( Those boys of yours have grown up to be handsome young men!
      xoxo, Megan

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