Gardener Story: Jessica Chittum

Our family was involved in the Build It Up Garden Program in 2016 and 2017 and we returned to the program this year when Lexy announced that past gardeners could participate again. I was thrilled to get that invite and really appreciate the webinars, resources, plants, seeds, and support. The advice we get is well-timed so we are learning about things we need to know at the best time possible to implement the ideas.  

Our garden was created many years ago based on ideas from Square Foot Gardening.  We enjoy having the crops grow in boxes with flowers and bushes around the garden. I try to incorporate these other types of plants to bring in more varieties of insects, birds, and toads in. Hopefully we can keep the insects that want to feed on our plants in check by the birds, toads and other insects who want to feed on them! We have hidey homes for toads in the garden and a water feature nearby for the birds. One day, our water feature attracted a wild turkey.  It was amazing to look out and see a turkey outside the house! 

The photo of the garden shows our use of row covers on some of the plantings. We utilize row covers that we received from Build It Up years ago to prevent moths from laying eggs on the leaves of the brassicas. It is amazingly effective at keeping them from getting eaten up by the caterpillars. The row covers are great for protecting the plants during cold spells in late fall, winter, and early spring. It has been possible for us to have chard, spinach, and kale through the fall, winter, and spring by using these covers.

Last fall and winter, we took a break from gardening and used the time to get caught up on weeding. We started planting this year in February and have enjoyed the cool weather crops of broccoli, kale, collards, lettuce, peas, chard, cabbage, parsley, and mustard greens. We started to grow chickpeas and soybeans this year for the first time. Basil has had a slow start this year, perhaps due to cooler temps, so we are still waiting for it to get a bit bigger so we can have pesto. It has been great to be part of Build It Up. We are so grateful for the support and guidance as we garden this year.

More images from Jessica’s Garden!