One of the best ways to learn to garden is by following someone who has been gardening in your area for a long time. Find someone who inspires you, who doesn’t mind you asking lots of questions. Yesterday, my kids and I had the chance to do just that!
I first met Zela at our Church almost seven years ago, I was a newlywed who found myself in a very small town. I quickly noticed she wasn’t someone who sat down very often. She is always lending a hand, cleaning a coffee spill, or greeting someone at the front door. Although she would be considered “retirement age” you would not know it! She loves the Lord, her husband, daughter, son-in-law and especially her two adorable grandkids. Last year I visited her garden for the first time and was immediately awestruck. After my visit, I had a load of fresh produce. She inspired me. I called my husband overwhelmed by the generosity and told him, “I have a new retirement goal, I want to be like Zela!”
Here is Zela’s garden from the front.
Here it is from the back side, I cannot wait to see it in full production again. Stay tuned.
She has several types of beans, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, watermelon, a few types of squash, herbs, cucumbers, peppers, sunflowers, carrots, beets, and I am sure more I am forgetting. The highlight of this trip was her Sugar Snap Peas. They are sweet and juicy, all but one picky child enjoyed them.
She made her trellis with rebar she picked up from a construction site, lined it with wire fencing and secured it by wrapping a rope to hold it up! She is always repurposing.
I’m looking forward to her peppers!
We saw the watermelon blossoms!
Here is another trellis she made for her beans.
For her cucumbers, she also scored this from a construction site She said next year she might angle the trellis towards the fence the, so as the cucumbers ripen they will hang down and make it easier to pick!
One thing I appreciate about how she gardens, is she plants what she loves. Which includes a beautiful Lilly Garden so she can share flowers as well as edibles. This is the main garden, but she has fruit trees, ground cherries, garlic, blackberries, raspberries, herbs in various platers and plenty more. Here is a planter she has ground cherries along with flowers.
This is a close-up of her ground cherries.
Zela also has chickens, which naturally was the highlight for my children. On top of the chicken coop, she is growing Hardy Kiwi. This was the first time I have seen hardy kiwi, it provides wonderful shade for the chickens.
I asked Zela, where she learned to garden. Who inspired her? I found out her grandparents were Amish and her mother raised her Mennonite. Her mother was her inspiration, and her mother learned it from her grandfather. They have been gardening in this area for generations! If you are new to gardening or have moved zones, find someone who is passionate about gardening and doesn’t mind you following them around asking lots of questions.
Thank you Zela for passing on your knowledge and passion with us!