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Carey’s Gardening Story

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Hello Fine Gardening! I’m Carey. My nickname, since I was three, has been CareBear. I’ve been gardening for about 15 years.

I grew up in Washington, and that’s where gardening started for me.

pruning roses in terraced bedsWe had a garden at home, and I helped build terraced beds there, which my parents still grow roses in to this day! So that’s an early success I’m proud of. What I learned is, when planting on a hill, plan for erosion! The bottom terrace has started to sag, although that’s also because it gets walked on.

large Sun Mandala GardenThen I moved to Hawaii because I wanted to be able to grow an abundance of fruits and other foods year-round. Creating a big sun mandala garden from scratch with one other gardener is something we were proud of. We pulled all the rocks in the wall surrounding this garden out of the ground while we were double-digging the beds.

tropical fruit treesTaking care of a large permaculture garden for its first year of growth was an accomplishment on Hawai’i island. I went back years later, and it was a dense food forest, with dozens of full-grown fruit trees such as cherimoya, avocado, coconuts, bananas, and many more, producing hundreds of pounds of food per year with little to no additional work being done. I wish I had taken a photo of it full-grown!

tropical tree downed in severe floodingA failure I learned from a few years later on Kaua’i island was, after spending a year planting a plot of bananas and vegetables, the area flooded heavily, drowning my vegetables and making some of the bananas fall over. Fortunately, bananas are very resilient, and they survived. That was over five years ago and that patch is still there, providing bananas for the community. Bananas are one of my favorite plants; they’re so abundant and easy to grow. And I love making smoothies with bananas!

exotic plant with bright turquoise blue flowers Also on Kaua’i, I helped steward a permaculture homestead where they grew a lot of exotic fruits and plants, such as this amazing blue jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys, Zones 10–12), one of my favorite flowers.

wider view of the exotic plant with bright turquoise blue flowers Wider view of the tree covered in the blue jade vine

close up of large sunflowerAfter six years in the tropics, I realized that I really need four seasons, so I came back to the Pacific Northwest and have been living between Washington, Oregon, and—as of this past year—Northern California. The coast here is amazing!

gardener amongst a large planting of kaleIt is chilly but not too cold in the winter, so we can grow greens and some other things year-round. Kale is one of my all-time favorite plants and feeds me every day! Also, we have the blessing of a beautiful coastline and old-growth redwood trees nearby. I love it.

I did a full season on a big farm when I returned to Washington in 2019. We started at 6 every morning even with mud or frost on the ground and provided CSA boxes to hundreds of people every week in the greater Olympia/Seattle area, so that took a lot of perseverance. It was the largest CSA in western Washington. The oldest video on my instagram page is of me enjoying some of the crops after work on that farm.

collage of different flowersThis past summer while working on a farm in Oregon I was delighted with the plethora of beautiful flowers I happened upon; it brightens up a hard workday to imagine the flowers are smiling at us and cheering us on. 🙂

My gardening hope for the future is to get a piece of land so that I and my friends and family can enjoy the fruits of what I grow for years to come. All of my work has been on other people’s land. I feel good about what I’ve done, but at the end of the day I need my own garden, farm, orchard. I am sharing my gardening adventures online partially to simply share the beauty and to hope it inspires others to garden.

Follow Carey’s gardening adventures on instagram: @poetry.in.the.garden

 

Have a garden you’d like to share?

Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

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