OWL Ladies’ Garden Tour

I’d like to share with you some beautiful gardens that belong to the lovely ladies at the OWL.  These special women are my vegetable garden gurus and have taught me so much in the past 2 years.  Last Friday, in the pouring rain, all of us OWL gardeners got together to tour each other’s gardens…

We started with Sarai‘s garden, a certified natural wildlife habitat.  Sarai’s garden was small and lush, full of squashes and cucumbers and beans, among other vegetables.

She had large raspberry bushes too, which we all got to taste test!


Sarai is most proud and excited about her beans and squash, because they went wild this year.  She’s also excited that her peppers are still alive!

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Sarai’s best garden advice:  Talk to the plants–get down and tell them how beautiful they look, how nice they are growing… not only for encouragement & positive energy but your own oxygen helps them as well (“yeah, I’m a little bit crazy” she says)  :).

She must be on to something because her plants were growing very nicely!

Sarai’s recommended garden books:

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, 641.097 KIN.  Sarai felt inspired by this book, realizing even one person or family can help the world by growing their own produce.  Inspirational and fun with lots of recipe ideas.  Denise seconds the motion!

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 317.3 OLD.  Sarai’s grandmother got her into this book, and she believes that “tried and true” is always the best.  I heartily second this recommendation and find their planting by the moon info very helpful (see my planting by the moon blog).

Next stop was Stacy‘s garden.  Stacy has two gardens; one large and one VERY large!  She has rows and rows of every kind of vegetable.  Stacy is an amazing gardener.  I was so impressed by her kingdom of produce!  One of the most amazing things about her garden was that it wasn’t fenced in and they haven’t had any problems with wildlife eating it (knock on wood).

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Stacy was most excited about her yams, soybeans and parsnips, new plants she is trying this year.

Stacy has chickens too!  The rooster’s name is Lucky, and he’s very protective of his hens.  According to Stacy he beat up a dog to protect them!


Stacy’s best garden advice:  Don’t be afraid to thin.  “Just pull stuff out!”  🙂

Stacy recommends Organic Gardening Magazine, a bimonthly periodical all about different ways to garden organically.

Denise‘s garden is artistic and decorative.  It feels like a little magical place with beautiful things to see everywhere.

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She has flowers mixed in with vegetables, and has her peas climbing up an arched trellis.  It makes me take a deep breath just thinking about how peaceful it is!

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Denise was most excited about her asparagus and garlic, new plants she tried this year.

Denise’s recommended gardening books:

Victory Garden by James Underwood Crockett, 635 CRO.  A month-by-month schedule of what needs to be done in your garden.

Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza, 635 LAN.  This is a relatively easy way to get a garden started without digging or tilling.  It works great for us, give it a try!  Cameron seconds the motion.

Denise’s best gardening advice:   Amend your soil with horse or cow manure!  She told the story of how when she first started gardening her neighbor came by with a “bucket of poop” and a few plants and told her “just mix this into the dirt and plant”.

Our last stop was Cameron‘s garden, the kind of garden you read about in books.  That’s the feeling I have when I go there.  The sense I had when I was there was like I was in an old English garden, but with more abstract placement of plants.

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Cameron had very unique vegetables.  My absolute favorite was her purple beans, they were so beautiful.


Cameron was most excited about her artichokes.  We all gasped when we saw them!  She had to “vernalize” them to make them think they were in California.


Cameron’s best garden advice:  Just love it.  Be in the moment and realize the miraculous simplicity of it all.  (And… amend  your soil really well!)  🙂

Cameron’s recommended garden books:

The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch, 635 DAM.  An A to Z encyclopedia of all things garden.  I second the motion–Cameron recommended this to me when I first started gardening and my sister bought it for me for Christmas.  I consult it constantly.

Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte, 635 RIO.  This is the sequel to Roses Love Garlic, both books all about companion planting.

And, finally… my garden!

My garden has many raised beds and boxes.  We have two long boxes that we cover to make tunnels, mini-greenhouses, in the spring and fall.

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I am most excited about my 3 sisters (Native American mound of corn, beans and squash.  The beans grow up the corn stalk and the squash supposedly keeps away critters.  All 3 plants are supposed to give each other different vitamins.)

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I’m also really excited about my yams because they are doing much better than last year’s.


My recommended garden reads:

60-minute Garden by Jeff Ball, 635 BAL.  This is a neat way to extend your gardening season by covering raised beds to make little tunnels.

The Permaculture Garden by Graham Bell, 631.58 Bell.  This was how we learned to “sheet mulch” to grow our potatoes (much like the lasagna gardening).

My best garden advice:   Make a lot of mistakes!

Gardening was overwhelming to me at first but I just dove in and made a lot of mistakes.  Each time something didn’t work out I just asked my garden gurus and one of them inevitably told me what I was doing wrong.  As I’m sure you all know, this is the best way to learn because you’ll never forget it!

Thanks so much to Sarai, Stacy, Denise & Cameron, garden gurus extraordinaire!

Jesse Lee Harmon is the bookkeeper/library assistant at OWL and is currently humming the song A Change is Gonna Come sung by Aretha Franklin

9 thoughts on “OWL Ladies’ Garden Tour

  1. What a wonderful post! Do any of you garden mavens have suggestions for books about container gardening? I don’t have a yard, but I am moving to a place with a balcony and would love to see it covered with potted plants next summer.

    1. Hey Tricia–yeah, we have an AWESOME book called Fresh Food from Small Spaces: the square-inch gardener’s guide to year-round growing, fermenting and sprouting! It’s all about ALL kinds of small space gardening, even about mushrooms and stuff! I should have mentioned that in my blog–maybe another one. 🙂
      Thanks for posting!! 🙂

  2. Jesse– what an amazing blog post. Very enjoyable to read and thoughtful too. Now everyone will know what a bunch of great women I work with 🙂

  3. Jesse,

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading the gardening blog….
    You gals send out such good vibes…
    I’ll add those wonderful garden book recommendations to my winter reading list!…

  4. Jesse-

    A sparkling post and magnificent idea! I truly enjoyed our little garden tour and look forward to another next year!

  5. Jesse – Thank you for this stunning report… photos and text that together “vernalize” the senses. Next year, if you do it again, John can compare notes and I’ll get to hug Lucky! Jane

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