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Pilar’s Adventures in Vertical Gardening

There are so many creative ways to garden. Many of us plant fruits and vegetables directly in the ground while a growing number of people are growing in raised beds and containers. Have you tried growing vertically though? This month we’re featuring a community member who ventured into vertically growing watermelon! Meet Pilar Cutler and discover her amazing pantyhose hanging watermelon that she lovingly grows in a small town in Virginia, USA.

What motivates you to garden?
The biggest motivation I have for gardening is harvesting my produce. Going out to the garden each day seeing what new fruits or vegetables are growing is very exciting. The day I can pick a juicy tomato or pull up a crunchy carrot is the most rewarding feeling.

How long have you been gardening?
I have been gardening since I was a young little girl. My father made a small vegetable garden in our backyard. We grew tomatoes, peppers and broccoli. Once I bought my own home six years ago, I finally had the space to create my garden.

Tell us a little bit about the space you garden in?
I opted for raised beds instead of sowing directly into the ground. I needed better soil to plant in. Plus it was easier to keep my dog out of the beds. My husband made a U shape bed which is my largest and most of my plants are grown in. I have two small rectangular beds that are attached to a lattice where I vertically grow watermelons, cantaloupe or pumpkins. Finally I have two smaller square beds for cutting flowers and attracting the bees.

What is a favorite memory that you have from the years you’ve been growing in your space?
My favorite memory has to be when I tried to vertically grow watermelons for the first time. I had never done this type of thing and I was successful my first try. I grew 5 sugar baby watermelons.

What are the main challenges that you’ve faced in your garden?
When I started my garden the surrounding trees were very small. Obviously 6 years later they have grown, I fight for sunlight in the small space that I have. I will need to find a new space to continue my garden or take down a few trees for the next growing season.

If you were stuck on an island and could only grow one vegetable or fruit or herb, what variety would you pick and why?
I’d grow heirloom tomatoes. I’m great at growing tomatoes and these are one of my favorite varieties.

Do you have any rituals or routines in the garden?
Nothing really, I check my garden daily. I have a normal routine tending to the beds, weeding, watering, checking for new produce and making sure pests aren’t destroying the plants.

If you were to give a piece of advice to someone who is just starting to get their hands dirty, what would that be?
Do a little research before you begin, that way you have the basic knowledge of growing plants and you’ll be more successful. Don’t worry too much about the details such as pH levels of the soil or aerating the soil. Each year learn some more information and become more specific in how to garden better. And most importantly have fun!

Do you have any gardening secrets to share?
No special secrets other than even the most advanced gardener fails so keep gardening even if you fail, it’s a learning process.

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