Gardener Story: Kelly Garrett
Hello, fellow BIU gardeners! What a great experience our summer garden has been! My husband and I
relocated to East Tennessee from Central Florida last summer and having a garden was one thing we
were excited about! Our one attempt at gardening in Florida didn’t go so well as the bugs and the heat
won! This time, with the help of Lexy, Rosie and BIU, we actually had some success. Even though we
had tried our hand at gardening once before, we had no idea just how clueless we actually were!!
Several years ago we started “juicing” fruits and veggies and found that organic options were not always
easy to find. BIU gave us the basics we were lacking and we were able to grow our own. The classes
and information provided by BIU were crucial to our success. We learned about things we would have
never imagined like, companion plants, cover crops, organic fertilizers, organic pest control, good insects
Like many in this mountainous region, our lot has a slight slope so we chose to do six small raised beds
and focused mostly on the foods we juice plus a few other things we use often in some of our favorite
dishes. It was exciting to witness the soil sprout life! Every morning we were eager to go check out the
garden to see what had transformed overnight. We planted peas, cucumbers, four varieties of
tomatoes, peppers, carrots, corn, lettuce, spinach and watermelon. We were amazed to see the snap
peas begin to blossom, the abundance of baby cukes, tiny tomatoes and watermelon emerge. Every day
I could imagine how tasty it would all be and felt darn proud of ourselves cause, after all, we were
growing our own food!!!
We fought the good fight defending our plants from those pesky insects that somehow knew what we
were up to! We beat the aphids back and managed to keep them away. The slugs went after our
spinach and lettuce but didn’t stand a chance against us armed with those little blue pellets. It was
those darn cucumber beetles that pushed the boundaries of our patience! We were out there at every
dawn and dusk squashing cucumber beetles and fighting hard to save all those delicious cukes. We
went on vacation for a week and came home to cucumber plants that had been nearly devoured by
these little pests. Mother nature was kind to provide the water we needed but we had left our
cucumbers defenseless and, in the end, those dreaded beetles won! ☹ Am I the only one who sees
those little yellow striped beetles in my nightmares!!??!?!
All in all, our first summer of gardening in Tennessee has been a success. The knowledge we’ve gained
from the classes and the hands-on experience will ensure our next garden is even more fruitful! I never
imagined how much I would enjoy being out at the garden every morning checking on things, watering
and witnessing our little bounty mature for harvesting. We have nothing but gratitude for Lexy, Rosie
and the BIU program for showing us that we, too, can grow our own food!