Family Gardening When You Are A Certified Plant Killer

I have stellar plant killing skills. When I bring a plant into the house, it curls up into itself, shriveling to nothing in its best effort to escape my clutches. I don’t want to be a plant murderer, but it happens every single time. Luckily, this ability has not translated into our garden going the way of the dinosaurs.

When I lived in Philadelphia, I cultivated a small vegetable garden in our campus’ community garden. I excelled at growing lettuce, basil, parsley, and beans, not so much with zucchini and carrots. Now that we own our home in Seminole, we wanted to create something more permanent, and my husband decided on a hügelkultur. Having never heard of this, I turned to my trusty Google research tool and learned it is a type of permaculture where different materials are layered on top of each other to create a hydrating, nutrient-rich garden. Keith and our son, Henry, dug out a portion of our yard, and filled it in with sticks, leaves, compost, manure, topsoil, and mulch. 

Last year as a family team, we planted tomatoes, peppers, and basil. Since we planted late (Florida’s growing season differs from the northeast; it’s best to plant in the fall), only the basil truly thrived. In fact, we grew so much basil we had enough to make several rounds of pesto, which we froze to use for pizza nights well into the fall. At three years old, Henry knows his way around pizza creation, and pesto remains our favorite.

Since we have an infant who is only now down to two night wakings, we weren’t alert enough this past fall to plant anything (zombie parenting at its finest). But the groundwork to garden is in place for the next growing season – the hügelkultur exists and only needs periodic weeding, our compost is melding together, and we have a list of seeds to plant. In the meantime, for his upcoming birthday gift, Henry will be choosing some Florida-native plants for a butterfly garden.

Earth Day offers the opportunity to support environmental causes internationally, but also to help this planet thrive closer to home. I have too much fun working together as a team with my family while teaching my kids about being a friend to nature. And if all else fails and my plant murdering side resurfaces, then at least we have all been part of the project together.

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