Here's an interview with a wonderful lady that I met online at GardenTenders.com. She's extremely practical yet inventive, and very knowledgeable about the world of gardening.
She's going to give us some insight on where she came from and where she's headed. What she loves and why she loves it. We'll walk away from this interview having a bit more ammunition in our garden arsenal. Set back and enjoy a little time with Debbie Pribele.
Thanks a million Debbie for taking the time to show us what you know, and walk us around your world for a little while.
1. Can we open by you telling us a little bit about yourself?
I am semi-retired and live in rural Ontario, Canada. I grew up on a farm but, although I loved the farm, I have to say that I didn't learn much about the farming process and definitely not about gardening, other than I hated picking raspberries!
My life, now, revolves around my family, my little piece of land that I live on, my counseling business, and my role as Community Manager for the online communities created by Martin Sojka, including GardenTenders.com.
2. I noticed on your blog, that you love to grow your own produce. Fill us in our your reasoning for this?
There are a couple of main reasons that I have started growing my own food. First, there is the environmental aspect - knowing what is in my food, reducing the transportation needs to send produce around the world, etc.
And secondly I want to become as self-reliant as possible (and that means - as much as I can do and ENJOY doing.)
I guess a third reason would be financial. Having chosen to be semi-retired, my income isn't as high as it was when I had a 9-5 job and growing my own produce reduces the yearly grocery bills.
3. Can you tell us of any tips or hints should we venture down the road of growing our own vegetables?
The biggest thing that I learned (and typically disregard every spring) is to just grow what you like to eat. If you don't like to eat it then you won't enjoy tending to it during its growing season and then, in the end, it just goes to waste.
Another tip would be "don't reinvent the wheel" -- there are so many resources out there (including GardenTenders.com ) where you can learn about how to grow food in your area of the world, in your environment, whether that is a big plot of land or a balcony), and then what to do with the food once you pick it. Learning from others is so much easier than the trial-by-error method.
4. For a beginner, can you recommend a few of the most commonly grown foods?
Tomatoes and lettuce are probably the two most commonly grown foods, based on information I have read. But again, I would recommend planting what you like to eat -- and what is suitable for your circumstances.
Also, start small so you can get a feel for the process and decide whether you want to invest the time and effort into growing your own produce.
5. Changing to a different subject, give us some insight on where you might find your inspiration for starting a new flower garden of any size?
For me, inspiration for a flower garden comes from looking at all the gardens and flowers posted at GardenTenders.com.
Every year, as I look at their photos I tell myself that I need to plant more flowers. They are just so beautiful!!
And then, each spring, I refocus on becoming self-reliant and wanting to use my land for vegetables rather than flowers. I always do plant some flowers though because I know I will regret it in the summer if I don't. So little by little my gardens are becoming a mixture of flowers and vegetables.
At GardenTenders.com we have people who have their entire yard transformed into a flowering oasis and we have others who just have a container or two on their deck or balcony. It doesn't matter what size of space you have - it's all about what brings you joy.
6. Do you have any suggestions for gardeners wanting to "go green" when they start or maintain a flower garden?
1. Do go green.
2. Research how to do it most effectively for you.
7. I see you're planning on bringing your front yard into a more natural state. Would you recommend this to others? If so, why?
I recommend that people think about what they want their space to be like and then create it. For me, working against nature means impacting the environment in a negative way, at least at some stage of the game. You might have to water more, for example, wasting water and power to pump the water. When you use plants that are natural to your area then, for the most part, they will take care of themselves.
Also, there is a concern about non-native plants being invasive and our native plants are being lost. It's quite sad. On my land, along with growing my own food, I am raising my own little "Carolinian Forest", planting trees that are native to this area but are disappearing from our landscape.
As an environmentally-concerned individual, yes, I would recommend going as "natural" as possible (and, again, as much as you enjoy). I'm a firm believer in balance - find what works for you.
Especially the last statement...Powerful Words!!! Debbie truly want balance in her garden world, and so should we!!
Thanks Debbie for such great tips and ideas and especially urging us to bring the "natural" into our homes and gardens!!