How did you start gardening?
Was it with a houseplant from your local grocery store? A packet of seeds you received as a housewarming present? Via a hanging basket you just couldn’t resist at a farmer’s market? Or perhaps you grew up gardening, and you learned from your parents, your family.
People’s first forays into gardening are as varied as the plant world is itself, and quite often just as delightful.
In this “how I got into gardening” story, you’ll meet Emily. Who is delightful indeed, with an impressively fast-growing green thumb.
Emily is a 25 year-old Toronto resident who has transformed the front yard of her urban home into a miniature homestead, with food and flowers growing in virtually every square metre of available space.
It all started with a cactus
As Emily tells it, her “plant shenanigans” started with a succulent she got as a gift, “the cutest little plump cactus” (eventually named Tim), and a cutting from her father’s multi-generational hoya plant. “When [my father] was in university, his grandmother gave him a cutting from her plant… and when I moved into university, he gave me a cutting from his plant.”
From such humble — and familiar — origins, a vegetable gardener was born.
One tomato plant
Emily’s first efforts at growing food began with a tomato plant she’d been given late in the season in 2020. It grew only a few tomatoes, “and they were not good, they were really bad tomatoes,” she says.
But she was well and truly hooked. That one less-than-successful tomato plant was just the first page in what became a whole new chapter of her adventures in growing green things.
Fast forward to today, two seasons later, and Emily’s front yard is literally crammed full of raised beds and containers, all burgeoning with vegetables.
From one season to the next, she’s clearly learned a range of vegetable growing techniques, from the ins and outs of how to stake tomato plants to how to grow strawberries in containers. And her efforts are paying off.
Complete urban vegetable garden
This year, she’s not only growing several varieties of tomatoes (obviously having improved on her first efforts), but also beans, kale, lettuce, beets, zucchini, and cucumbers.
She’s also growing a number of herbs (chives, tarragon, dill, basil, cilantro, parsley, sage), and has some pots filled with the above-mentioned strawberries. Oh, and some edible flowers, too.
And what of Emily’s gardening origin story plants? Still going. She still has Tim the Cactus (status: not great) and the multigenerational hoya plant (status: splendid, fertile, many cuttings in play).