This second interview focuses on the frugal aspects of gardening , and Brandy is an expert on the subject. She maintains a garden on a small plot of land that year round helps supplement the food needs of her family of eight. Brandy's garden is not only functional, but beautiful! In our rush about society of today, how wonderful to have a home one doesn't want to leave, as well as a home that grows the nourishment to feed your family a healthy diet.
Brandy's site is filled to the brim with gardening information and delicious recipes incorporating the vegetables and fruits she grows.
If you have a question for Brandy feel free to leave it in the comments section, and as time allows she will be glad to answer them for you.
All photos are from Brandy's gorgeous property!
Suzanne: In today's economy the need to supplement our food budgets with our own homegrown is becoming a necessity rather than a hobby. How exactly would you recommend one start "gardening" with an eye toward frugality?
Brandy: Grow the things that cost you the most at the store, and yet are not costly to grow. Lettuce and herbs are inexpensive and easy to grow. A packet of 750 lettuce seeds is just under $4 from most seed companies. That’s a lot of salads, compared to $1.49 a head for loose leaf lettuce at the grocery store.
Zucchini and green beans are another great way to get a lot of food from a small amount of seeds.
Suzanne: More families are buying at farmers markets than ever before, a surge in awareness of "where does are food actually come from" is sweeping our country. What crops do you recommend growing that could take the place of heavily sprayed produce one normally buys in the grocers?
Brandy: I think the answer for home gardeners depends on your climate and space. If you have a lot of space, you can grow a lot, and if your climate is right, you could conceivable grow everything on the dirty dozen list. If your space is limited and your climate is too hot or cold for those things, see which foods grow best where you live, and start with those. Also, be aware that even organic farmers use pesticides; they just use organic pesticides. (It’s a common misconception that “organic” means “unsprayed.”) Learn about the pests that plague the foods you want to grow, and learn about the organic solutions to those pests.
Suzanne: What is your advice in regards to the person who has little land to garden on?
Brandy: There are two things that you can do to maximize the space you have. Number 1 is to make sure that everything that you grow is edible. Have every tree and bush produce fruit. Learn about edible landscaping and see how your space can be both beautiful and productive. Even your flowers can be edible. Number 2, grow things vertically. Use fences and walls to grow grapes, peas, and green beans.
Suzanne: Your garden is not only functional , but beautiful! How has this helped you in other ways feel about your home and your role as a homemaker and keeper of the home?
Brandy: I feel very blessed to be able to look outside and to see this every day:
It’s really uplifiting. We create a lot of the beauty around us.
I don’t leave the house very often (1-2 days a week, if that). I can go weeks without going anywhere. If I’m craving beauty, I can go outside and sit on the bench and enjoy the flowers. I can watch the hummingbirds, and listen to the warblers that sing in my garden. In addition, I can grace our table with flowers, which is always delightful.
Suzanne: You have a great page on your website, “Gardening for less ". Which single tip would you strongly recommend to the new gardener and why?
Brandy: Grow from seeds! It will save you a ton over buying nursery seedlings.
Suzanne: Can you share a recipe of yours that has used only produce or fruit from your garden?
Brandy: When we have artichokes , I like to serve mine with lemon. I grow both the lemons and artichokes in my garden. I serve Swiss chard with lemon as well.
Most of my recipes incorporate other foods from my pantry with items in my garden, whether it’s making a salad , a clafoutis , or making jams and jellies.
We also eat a lot of fresh fruit from the garden; I grow cherries, peaches, blackberries, apricots, figs, apples, pears, Asian pears, pomegranates, and 3 kinds of grapes.
Suzanne: How do you incorporate your children into your gardening, if you do?
Brandy: My children are still very small, so they can’t do a lot yet. Still, they have learned to identify several weeds, and they sometimes work alongside me, and we pull weeds together. They also help me harvest peas, tomatoes, and edible flowers. I’ll have them help me plant the big seeds, and water the pots.
Suzanne: Would you share some of the beautiful gifts you were able to give from your garden?
Brandy: I have given jams and jellies. I’ve been able to give mint starts and baby aloe plants. I have been able to share flowers, fresh herbs, and flower seeds. I hope to be able to share more garden seeds, as I try growing open-pollinated and heirloom vegetables.
Suzanne: How do you balance the demands of growing a significant amount of your own food with your home duties and home schooling?
Brandy: My gardening schedule is dictated by the weather. Where I live, I can garden year-round. I use naptime (quiet time for the older children) in the winter for pruning, fertilizing, and winter seed-sowing. I’ll go out in the evenings and work in the garden, or in the early morning.
Suzanne: How do you use your garden to minister to others or your community?
Brandy: I host three garden tours/classes a year, where I teach a free 2-hour class on gardening in the desert to people in the community. I also speak in the community about gardening. Gardening where I live is very different than other places (for example, we get around 2 inches of rain a year, we have to jackhammer holes for trees, and we have 5 months of above 90º temperatures). Many people come from very different climates, and they are surprised to learn that you can grow food here—and that tomato plants should get set out in the garden in February!
Suzanne: Final thoughts or an inspiring quote to share?