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Hey, ignore me if you’ve answered this already, but where did your interest in plant life and gardening come from? I am forever marveling at all this practical knowledge that I was never introduced to as a kid.


Oh wow, that’s a good question! My mother was a gardener, and I think it was from her that I got the desire to grow things, but I didn’t get much practical knowledge. (Not her fault, I was just young and dumb and also things that grow in Oregon are not always things that grow in Minnesota or North Carolina. I did learn how to build a drystone wall from my stepfather, though, which is surprisingly useful knowledge, because it teaches you that stacking a bunch of rocks can fix all kinds of things.)

No, I got all the actual knowledge from books and sticking my hands into dirt. Mostly books. I knew nothing when I started. I kept ordering mulch from one place and they gave me Black Kow compost instead, because the clerk didn’t know anything either. So I spread like three hundred pounds of cow manure on my flower beds and then wondered why the weeds grew, but oh my god, the plants exploded.

And I also did a lot of things that were stupid, some of which worked great. For example, nobody told me you couldn’t build a garden bed by marking out a chunk of lawn and dumping dirt over it, until after the fact, when they said the grass would grow through. Those beds did awesome. Still do. Mind you, I used a LOT of dirt. (If I were doing it again, I might try flipping the sod, but at the time, I just got in and dumped dirt and smothered everything.) 

I had no idea how big anything got, so I’d plant it and find out. In some cases, that means that I’m still dealing with having Rattlesnake Master at the front of a bed and having to stake it, and I’ve moved (and slain) plants that got out of hand.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that gardening is often a blood-borne pathogen, but practical knowledge can be gleaned by reading and doing and failing and trying again.