In the Garden:
Upper South
June, 2010
Regional Report

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Sharing time with a young gardener is a great way to help and be helped.

To Help and Be Helped

For many people, asking for help is one of the most difficult things to do. It somehow admits defeat or weakness or not knowing something. Conversely, and oddly enough, giving help can be just as awkward. We don't want to intrude or negatively imply to a person that they need help. The subject of help has come home to me in two ways this spring, one in a workshop and the other in a one-on-one situation. It should come as no surprise that in both instances, roles are often reversed.

Vegetable Boot Camp - Part 1
In one situation, I am assisting at a class that is officially called Vegetable Boot Camp. It is being held at Yew Dell Gardens, a public garden near Louisville, Kentucky. The group consists of people who have done little, if any, vegetable gardening, although they may be experienced in other gardening areas. They meet once a month at Yew Dell from March until August and work on an actual vegetable garden. The instructor in charge is incredibly knowledgeable and, although our gardening experiences are similar, our opinions sometime differ. It's been good for me to be reminded that there is often more than one way to do something.

Most exciting for me has been to experience the enthusiasm of beginning vegetable gardeners. Their thrill at learning new things, having success, and living through failures - and learning from them- has been rejuvenating for me. If you have the opportunity in any way shape or form to help others learn about gardening, be it at a school, retirement home, church, or whatever, don't hesitate to get involved. If a program doesn't already exist near you, then start something.

Vegetable Boot Camp - Part 2
The second version of vegetable boot camp came about somewhat inadvertently. A friend of mine has a beautiful home in a woods, which means very little of the sunlight needed for vegetables, although she does have shade-loving flowers and shrubs. Last fall, she asked if she and her husband could use some of the my garden area, with the idea of giving me some nominal rental fee. Over the winter months, I realized that the area intended for them needed to be fallow for a year. In addition, I wasn't going to grow as much in another, smaller vegetable area, so some of that space was available.

We talked it through and decided to grow and work together on this smaller area. I had plenty of seeds and transplants, including vegetables she was particularly interested in growing. What I was short on was time and energy. She's come over several evenings and one very long day, and the area has been weeded, tilled, fertilized, planted, and mulched. What happened along the way, which she didn't expect but was thrilled to get, was a personalized mini-boot camp, as she asked lots of questions, and I gave lots of answers. Plus, we had great conversations, and we'll both get lots of vegetables!

This type of sharing and helping one another isn't always going to work, but it certainly is worth considering. Maybe there's an older gardener near you who would really appreciate some help but doesn't want to "bother" anyone. I bet you could find an evening a week or even just one day, if that's all you can manage. Think what you might learn from him or her. And, if you are that older gardener, think how nice it would be to have some help with those weeds - and some company. Taking the time to help your own child, grandchildren, or a neighbor's will benefit both of you, too. Let yourself be open to the possibilities of both asking for help and offering it up. The results will surprise you.


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