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Donna’s life long gardening journey

We’re thrilled to introduce a new series the “gardenstead spotlight.”

Gardening is about people and connection. The Coronavirus may have altered the way we physically interact with our neighbor’s but it won’t stop us from virtually sharing what’s in their garden!

On occasion we’re going to highlight a member of our community in one of our three main areas: vegetable gardening, houseplants or flower gardening. During such a time of uncertainty, let’s find serenity and joy in the gardens. Let’s get storytelling.

Allow these gardener’s and their stories to bring you joy! Learn and feel inspired by these stories.

So brew a cup of tea and settle into Donna’s inspiring and motivating story.

“I have no idea what spurned me to like gardening especially since growing up in Guyana, South America, neither of my parents showed even a little interest in it. It is just something I gravitated to from childhood. I vividly recall not being able to wait for food cans to be empty to wash them out, punch holes at the bottom and fill with soil to plant anything I could grow. I first started with cuttings of every variety of croton and succulents I could get my hands on. If I saw a croton plant, I would boldly go up to the door and ask the owner for a cutting. Some people were eager to share and some not so much. After I got married in 1975 and moved into my own home with lots of planting space, I started planting vegetables. When we moved to Canada in 1978, I had to settle for indoor plants, but once my hubby and I bought our own home, the love affair quickly returned and has continued to date. I briefly had a landscape design business, on a strictly referral basis where I would provide my knowledge, and design to a homeowner, who would provide the manual labour – A win/win.

Now that I am retired, the winter is a real drag for me and as soon as the weather takes a slight turn, my gardening head raises again. I am currently nurturing (and talking to) so many different seedlings which I call my babies, and it is now my full time job, but I love every minute of it. Seed pods, pots, grow lights, heater and the like. My husband told me recently that I am obsessed but totally understands. His hobby is golf, mine is gardening and mine puts food on our table…..LOL.”

1. What motivates you to garden?
The rewards of watching something grow from seed to fruit and the best therapy that comes with it.

2. How long have you been gardening?
From childhood – over 55 years.

3. Tell us a little bit about the space you garden in.
My yard is sloped, so I created two rock gardens divided by a small (existing) bridge to the back part of the yard. I also created a veggie garden (4 feet X 25 feet) and added a raised garden bed last season (2 feet X 8 feet). I also have several containers – some for veggies, some for flowers and 2 rain barrels.

4. What is a favorite memory that you have from the years you’ve been growing in your space?
The nostalgia I experience when I can harvest the veggies, especially those native to my birth country.

5. What are the main challenges that you’ve faced in your garden?
The rabbits and squirrels. I combat that with cayenne pepper powder – works like a charm and I don’t mind having to reapply, especially after a rainfall. Helps to clear my sinuses also LOL. I added a rabbit fence around my garden bed.

6. If you were stuck on an island and could only grow one vegetable or fruit or herb, what variety would you pick and why?Eggplant. It is our favourite and can be prepared in so many ways.

7. Do either of you have any rituals or routines in the garden?
Hmmmmm…… not able to think of any, except weeding but not sure that can be considered a ritual. More like a necessity.

8. If you were to give a piece of advice to someone who is just starting to get their hands dirty, what would it be?
Just Do It!!!! It is hard work but one that gives the most rewards, not just mentally, but financially also. There is nothing like harvesting a vegetable you have nurtured, to savouring it a few hours later. From farm to table.

9. Do you have any gardening secrets to share?
Do not use harmful pesticides. I prepare a solution of neem oil, dish soap, and water which is not harmful to our precious pollinators or our bodies. One other shameful little secret – growing is my thing, but when it comes to harvesting? Not so much. My hubby does not mind doing it, so I gladly let him. I guess we make a good pair.

You can follow along with Donna and her garden on Instagram at @mamamiona
All photos courtesy of Donna Hallim

yellow petaled flower by elias sorey unsplash

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