A few weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting Jen and her family in their beautiful backyard garden. Jen has been a Yard to Market Co-op Member-Owner since 2014. Jen is an experienced and thoughtful gardener, and she’s a vital part of our Co-op’s success. In addition to providing her beautiful bounty for sale, Jen volunteers her time to the Co-op as a Farmstand Supervisor, on the Board of Directors, and as a member of the ongoing Cottage Foods Pilot Project. She also partners with Allen in N. Austin to harvest and bring to market the great food growing in his garden. I talked with Jen about her garden.
When did you start gardening and why?
My parents always had a garden since I was little. On my own, ever since I first moved to Texas; my first job was at Natural Gardener. And why? Because I like to know where my food comes from. I like to grow ornamentals too, but I mostly grow things with a purpose, so I grow a lot of larval plants, herbs. My potted plants are an avocado, a banana, and citrus.
How long have you had this particular garden?
About 3 years.
What’s your favorite thing that’s growing in the garden right now?
Tomatillos. I’m super excited about them, and I hope they do really well. I make salsa and we do a lot of pork and green sauce. And we do a lot of beans- I’m always excited about beans and cucumbers too.
What do particularly like growing for sale?
Lettuce, but I just took it all out. I think salad mix is always a good thing to sell and it’s pretty easy to grow. It’s always great to have on hand for us.
Is there anything you’ve never grown before that you dream about growing?
We have this peach tree. I guess that’s what I’m really excited about. Last year we got all that rain and we had these huge, delicious juicy peaches and I was waiting – we would harvest just a couple of them – there were, like, 50 peaches on there. And one day I was like “tomorrow morning I’ll come out and get them all before something happens.” And literally that morning I came out and the ground was covered in peach pits and there was not a single peach left on the tree! So we are hoping to get them in time this year.
Also beans and grains. I guess that’s weird, but I love the idea of being more self-sufficient. We just don’t have the space. I get too excited about annual vegetable stuff like this and I can’t donate the space.
Whose garden would you like to take a tour of?
Eliot Coleman, I suppose. And I’d love to see [fellow Co-op member] Ally’s garden.