I'm the "Green Thumb" Contributor on Squidoo
It IS easy being green!
Since I was a small child wandering in my grandfather's vegetable patch, I have had a fond admiration for gardeners and harbored a secret desire to be one. However, I earnestly believed that I had a brown thumb, which was confirmed by a series of brown plants to which I had administered death, despite my best intentions. By trial and error, I realized that there is more to gardening than sticking a plant in the ground and watering it. A little know-how began to turn my ship around, and over the years with much study and practice, I have become a proficient gardener. The more I learn and the more I gain experience as a gardener, the easier and more successful it becomes.
I am currently a very busy teacher, spreading what I have learned about gardening, green living and urban farming to as many people as I am able to reach. My schedule can be daunting, but I LOVE what I do and am so encouraged by the numbers of people who are interested in learning how to grow their own food. And though I am sometimes viewed as an expert, of sorts, I never stop learning. I am very excited to head up the Green Thumb group, both to learn more and to share the info with other gardeners.
When I am not teaching or writing, I spend my time at The Micro Farm Project, which is our little farm in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona. On a quarter of an acre, my family raises dairy goats, a few turkeys and sheep, Coturnix quail and laying hens. We also have our personal vegetable gardens, as well as five garden beds devoted to teaching others all about gardening. And though the farm is lots of work, none of it is drudgery (except maybe record-keeping) and life is dandy!
How I Transformed My Brown Tumb Into a Green Thumb
My husband is a Navy Reservist. What does that have to do with gardening? For me, it meant everything. Two successive deployments left me alone with young kids, a business to run about which I knew nothing (thank God for the capable employees who ran the show,) time on my hands and a giant backyard. By "yard" I mean dirt and a palm tree. We had killed everything else, though there wasn't much to begin with.
Thankfully, I was accepted to the Master Gardener program in Maricopa County. There I made lots of friends and learned everything I hadn't known before about gardening. I put my new knowledge to use, and transformed our property into a garden haven. Not long afterwards, I was introduced to the concept of backyard chickens, and our farm was born!
Though I have taken many classes and read dozens of gardening and farming books, I am exceedingly thankful to the Master Gardener program that gave me my start. To this day, I volunteer much of my time to mentor other gardeners in the program and stay actively involved. If you are interested in Master Gardener Programs in your area, here is a listing of them throughout the U.S.
The books that got me started...
The following are the first books that I read when I was learning to garden. They are full off highlights and bookmarks, and I still refer to them often. The first two are specific to growing food in hot, dry conditions. The last two are great general gardening books that should be an every gardener's library.
Dave the Garden Guy is well-known in Phoenix as the expert on desert gardening. A wealth of info for anyone growing in hot, dry climates.
Loads of information for desert gardeners, and three planting calendars for the desert southwest (herbs, vegetables and flowers, too!)
A fantastic book for gardeners eveyrwhere. Learn to space plants properly to make the best use of your garden space.
A fantastic book for all gardeners, bursting with basic information, as well as tips to improve any garden.
Master Gardener programs are offered via university extension services in the United States and Canada. These programs are service organizations that offer intensive home horticulture training to individuals who then volunteer in their communities to pass the information along. Whether you are interesting in the training, or are looking for the best, regionally-specific advice you can get on gardening, visit the link below to connect with Master Gardener programs in your state.
Seed Starting and Saving
One of the best thing that I learned from the Master Gardeners is how to grow from seed, as well as collecting and saving my own seed. This is a very economical way to grow a garden, and it has the added benefit of creating varieties over time that are well adapted to my climate and gardening practices. Here are the basics:
I love growing all kinds of plants, from open-pollinated and heirloom varieties to hybrids. For maximum production and disease resistance, hybrids are the way to go. BUT, hybrid seeds are NOT good options for seed savers as they do not grow 'true.' And hybrid varieties are limited.
For seed saving and diversity in my garden, I grow heirloom plants. There are so many gorgeous heirloom varieties, and although they do not always start out as hardy in my garden as hybrids, over time they get stronger and better adapted to my garden conditions.
What kinds of Squidoo content would help you the most?
If you are an aspiring or a seasoned gardener or farmer, what information would you like to see on Squidoo? Do you have a specific plant that you would like to learn to grow, or an animal that you are interested in raising? What do you want to better understand about gardening or urban farming, or what makes you curious?