get’cher garden on

Folks, Pat’s family will be walking in the Ft. Worth Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.  If you’d like to support them, tax-deductible donations can be sent online HEREAn update from our Mrs. Pat can be read HERE.  

It’s planting time.

I’d like to introduce you to a dear friend of mine… though, we’ve never sat down for hot chocolate together… Holly.  Holly and her husband, Masi (tall, dark, handsome, and European) own The Franklin Farm here in Grand Rapids. They’re also passionate about intentional living- community, conversation, co-creating.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Gardening is making a huge comeback in popularity- especially in the cities- as people realize they both want and need more personal control over their food.  But, gardening within city concrete can be hard.  I asked if Holly would answer a few questions about the community garden at The Franklin Farm, and she obliged.  Here’s part 1 of Urban Gardening.

What is your whole name and the story behind it?

My full name is Holly Len Bechiri. My mom thought Holly was really original, and was pretty upset when a couple years after I was born, the “Holly Hobbie” doll came out. Suddenly other moms were discovering my name and she wasn’t as unique any more. It’s no surprise I’m not afraid of creativity. My middle name is after my father, Leonard, who goes by “Len.”

Do you remember your first garden?

I remember my mom having a vegetable garden in a part of our yard, rhubarb in a patch along the street, and strawberries in a patch out our back door. I distinctly remember running through and picking food from each of those places to munch on while i was running around outside playing.  My mother, however, remembers my unwillingness to Work in the garden-so she’s quite surprised at us turning our yard into garden space now.

How many years have you been gardening at the Franklin Farm?

This will be our 3rd year gardening. The first season we owned the houses, we just kind of watched where and how things grew, the amount of sunlight that surrounding trees blocked, and so on. Well, that and we were fixing up old, neglected houses pretty much full time.

What are your go-to crops? The no-fails?

I used to think lettuce was a go-to first crop. Then last year, we planted seeds 4 times before we got germination for some of them. (from Katie: Um, agreed.  I cannot grow lettuce. Walter Tango.)  I have no idea what was going on there, but it did seem to be a strange year weather-wise for a lot of crops. I honestly think most things aren’t as hard as newcomers assume, but tomatoes are great because they’re pretty hardy and let’s face it, So Rewarding. herbs are wonderful and really add a lot to your meals (and are so expensive to buy at the store!). I’d say whatever you really just love finding at the farmer’s market, that’s what you should grow.  Go for the most pleasure-giving plants you can think of.  Let’s face it, starting a garden is not also the time we should be bound and determined to start eating those weird vegetables we hate the smell of when we’re eating them. If you don’t want to eat them, why would you have any desire to spend the time to grow them? Stick with what you know you’ll love eating. Then grow from there.

The other thing I tell first-timers is that you don’t have to mess with seeds. You can start with little plants, and honestly in this part of the country, that can increase your crop yield significantly before the snow starts flying again. Some things are easy from seed though, and I wouldn’t bother buying the plants of the following: greens/lettuces, peas, and beans. I also will often plant basil plants and also basil seeds… but I may be a little obsessed with basil. Tomatoes, I recommend getting small plants, a couple medium plants, and then treat yourself to one already-large plant. Who wants to wait til August for a tomato! That one big one will keep you working and taking care of the smaller ones, knowing that you’ll be rewarded so much sooner.

Holly will be back with Part II next Monday.  Until then, you can find Holly HERE, HERE, and HERE

Y’all garden.  Speak up!  What always works in your garden?  What’s fun for kiddos?  Any hidden tricks up your sleeve?


About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), a bloodhound (Hank), 2 barn cats, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

13 responses to “get’cher garden on

  • Julie Lenger

    like like like! keep talking to me!

  • susannah

    i love my vegetable garden. from picking out seeds from the catalog in january to starting seeds inside to getting the stress out with a hoe to eating and preserving. i think that our beans are always the most prolific crop. we like little french filet beans round here. that and butternut squash. but we had a great potato crop last year (that we’re still enjoying) so i’m trying four kinds this year.

    i’m much less successful with the flowers…

    • texasnorth

      Ohhhh! I want to try potatoes and onions this year. Am I too ambitious? How do you know when they’re ready? We eat so so very many potatoes, I’m thinking I need to learn about planting and preserving these babies.

      Seed catalogs get me through winter 🙂

      • susannah

        try them! the only tricky thing about potatoes is the possibility of the dreaded potato beetle. it hasn’t found us yet. i found a company that sells seed potatoes in a quantity called a foursum. literally four potatoes. so you can try them. i may be trying five different kinds this year…

  • Sunday Grant Photography

    That was fun to read about gardening! We have already tilled our garden area. I was wanting to start buying plants, at least for the pots, but so glad I did not since it snowed today! Mother’s day can’t get here soon enough. I am ready to plant!

  • carrie elzinga

    best crop Ever for a toddler: grape-size tomatoes on a trellis. by the end of summer he was even starting to realize that the green ones were, in fact, yucky and better left on the vine. i left everything waist down for him to graze on while i would tend the other things. and digging up the carrots was pretty awesome too, especially watching the Boy as he recognized what they were.

  • LoLo

    The only thing successful in my “garden” (uhum, a few random pots thrown out in the small portion of my yard that sees the sun) are the squirrels! Those are smart and persistent little boogers! Every year they get more aggressive and last year I don’t even think I saw a green tomato in it’s whole form, much less a red one. I’ve given up on all planted things, except my herbs (which this year it appears that even the seeds were dug up and eaten).

  • Margie

    I know so little about gardening, and this is so helpful! This year Wayne (note: not me) bought small herb plants rather than starting from seed. Already seeing them grow is so rewarding, and I’ve already used a few. So Holly’s nod here was nice to see. Since, in truth, I have a really, really black thumb.

    • texasnorth

      Honestly, I’m a terrible gardner, too. It’s an area I’d really like to do better in. I think you’re right (or Wayne is, fo rthat matter). Buying starter plants is a big boost in the self-esteem department for the harder plants AND the first few years until you develop some amount of report with your dirt.

  • Miss Laura

    This was immensely helpful, thank you. Hopefully this summer I will end up with a bit more than the three-inch container-grown cucumbers from two years ago.

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