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I'm the "Green Thumb" Contributor on Squidoo

Updated on June 20, 2014

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!

Me (far right) with some of my students.
Me (far right) with some of my students.

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.

Master Gardeners

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.

Extreme Gardening: How to Grow Organic in the Hostile Deserts
Extreme Gardening: How to Grow Organic in the Hostile Deserts

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.

Desert Gardening for Beginners: How to Grow Vegetables, Flowers and Herbs in an Arid Climate
Desert Gardening for Beginners: How to Grow Vegetables, Flowers and Herbs in an Arid Climate

Loads of information for desert gardeners, and three planting calendars for the desert southwest (herbs, vegetables and flowers, too!)

All New Square Foot Gardening II: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space
All New Square Foot Gardening II: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space

A fantastic book for gardeners eveyrwhere. Learn to space plants properly to make the best use of your garden space.

Real Gardens for Real People Booth
Real Gardens for Real People Booth

Master Gardeners

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.

Master Gardener Programs

Seed Saving
Seed Saving

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:

Seed Saving: Growing Your Own Seeds

Seed Saving: Collecting and Storing Seeds

Seed Saving: Starting Plants from Seed

Heirloom Seeds

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.

Arizonan Gothic
Arizonan Gothic

What kinds of Squidoo content would help you the most?

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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?

How can I help you to develop your "green thumb?"

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    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      It's such an interesting niche! Looking forward to reading more.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 4 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      I have a life-long interest in gardening. Neither of my parents enjoyed gardening, so from a young age I was given pretty much free reign in my parents big yard except I was not allowed to let anything overhang the lawn that might get in the way of my dad's lawn mowing. My main interest now is in native and edible plants.

    • profile image

      CalobrenaOmai 4 years ago

      I love this lens! The micro gardening reminds me of what I uncle did some years ago. He had a little garden in the backyard where he grew vegetables which he used in his cooking. Still miss him. Am looking forward to doing some gardening of my own. Haven't done any gardening since some summers ago when my mom planted and grew yellow squash, hot peppers and tomatoes. Thanks for sharing this wonderful lens.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      First, this is an excellent example of an into contributor lens. Congratulations. Second, we're considering replacing our standard lawn with native, drought tolerant plants. I'd welcome ideas on that.

    • profile image

      tonyleather 4 years ago

      Well done on becoming the niche adviser. I look forward to reading your lenses!

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Congrats on your appointment to this area on Squidoo; you have a lot to bring to the table from what I've read!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 4 years ago from Colorado

      This is the year I dive fully into aquaponic gardening. My goal is to grow all of my own organic food. Living in the high desert, I believe aquaponics is the way to go (it takes 90% less water). It renders all of the difficulties moot (extreme temps, poor soil, high winds, short growing season, and no rain). I love what you have done on such a small plot of land. Impressive! Congrats on being named Squidoo's new "Green Thumb" contributor. Awesome!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 4 years ago from GRENADA

      I do a little kitchen gardening, so I'll be checking out your tips for pest and disease control and getting super great yields, The_Micro_Farm_Project.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 4 years ago from United States

      Like you, my interest in gardening started in my grandparents backyard, but my gardener influence was my grandmother. I loved her therefore I loved gardening. It was that simple. To this day, I think of her in my garden. It is my haven from the world, my place of solace and comfort.

    • microfarmproject profile image

      microfarmproject 4 years ago

      @sousababy: I agree! My friend at The Simple Farm in Scottsdale, AZ has a mantra, "You MUST grow your own food." She is so right, even if it's just some herbs or onions. The more gardeners that are growing food, the better our food security as individuals and as a nation.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 4 years ago

      I'm enjoying the winter - since the snow covers my poorly manicured lawn. I'm not much of a gardener, but I feel that within the next 10 years everyone who owns some land should cultivate some type of plants and trees (not only for the environment, but for our own sustainability down the road). I thoroughly appreciate all the hard work, care, and dedication it involves (and I think involving children in the process - as much as possible - is also wise parenting).