I grew up with parents and grandparents who farmed and gardened, but I didn’t really get interested in it until college. I had started learning more about sustainability and was becoming super aware of all the food and plastic I was wasting. I was getting annoyed that I had to keep throwing away half-eaten bags of spinach that had gone bad before I had the chance to finish them (seriously, why do they put so much spinach in those bags?? I’m just one person!!!). It dawned on me that I could probably grow spinach myself. I was a little worried because my past with plants hasn’t always been easy-breezy, and I dread the day that my plant karma catches up to me and I have to pay for all the succulents I have killed. So to be safe, I had many conversations with my mom about how to get started.
Since then, I’ve spent more time learning from my mom and grandparents. I haven’t had a yard since my inner gardening revolution, so I’ve had to get creative. I’ve spent time volunteering at my university’s student organic farm for three semesters, I’ve grown vegetables in containers outside my apartment complex, and this year I’m finally going to have a community garden plot!
During the winter months, when I have nothing to do, I also enjoy growing and propagating houseplants. It helps me feel like I can still spend time in nature, and it makes me feel like a scientist conducting experiments with all my different propagations. As a kid, I always enjoyed learning about science, but I haven’t had a lot of exposure to it while studying journalism at college.
Even though I still very much feel like a beginner, I am really passionate about helping other people learn about plants and how to grow their own food. It’s a really empowering and satisfying feeling, and I think more people would do it if they were exposed to it. I’m excited to be writing for Epic Gardening. They are a great resource that I have personally used. No matter your experience, you can grow your own food!
Q: What’s your favorite plant?
A: I love, love, love trailing plants. I’m not the most patient person, so plants that grow fast usually end up being my favorite. I have a few at home, but if I had to pick one, it would be Ivy. It’s a classic.
Q: What is your “spirit vegetable”?
A: I have always identified with corn. Probably because I spent part of my childhood in the midwest, and fall is my favorite season. But it’s always been my go-to vegetable; it can fit with so many different types of meals and is always tasty.
Q: What’s the most unusual plant you’ve grown?
A: Currently, the weirdest plant I have is probably my Vicks plant! I found it at a nursery, and when I rubbed one of the leaves with my fingers, they smelled exactly like Vick’s VapoRub. It’s actually a type of succulent native to South Africa with really soft fuzzy leaves. It grows into a bush, typically about one foot tall.
I’ve found that it’s super easy to propagate in water or in the dirt, and like most succulents, it likes a lot of sun and little water (although that’s a shame because it smells great when you water it). I’m still trying to figure out the best thing to do with the leaves. My mom and I tried using water to extract some of the oil from the leaves so we could diffuse it. But I think we did something wrong because my batch smelled awful after a week. Once my plant recuperates, and I’ve grown enough new leaves, I want to see if I can crush them up to make some sort of salve or jelly.