I’ve always admired people who have the specific skills in life that enable them to help other people with whom they are close. The drywall guy who can mud and tape a few walls for his buddy who’s finishing his basement. The baker who helps the mother of the bride keep their wedding costs down by orchestrating the creation of 300 mini cakes for the reception. The mechanic who spends a full weeknight in his brother’s garage replacing the radiator in that 15 year old jalopy.

I don’t have any such vocational skills. But what I enjoy sharing is produce from my garden with those people I know who really enjoy making meals that include fresh homegrown ingredients. A couple of times a summer I’ll bring a bucket of cucumbers, peppers, zucchini and other stuff (everything but tomatoes…nobody gets my tomatoes!) to the office and spread them out on the counter for coworkers to grab. Or I’ll drop off bags of turnips and beets at the Catholic Charities food shelf just because I know there’s always somebody less fortunate who could use some good fresh food. This is just my way of sharing the one hobby I’ve maintained most of my life… the hobby of gardening.

I’m John Schroeder. I’m a sales guy here at Townsquare Media. In my past life I was an “on-air personality” specializing in sports. But what really turns my crank is getting out in my 28 x 15 foot vegetable garden several times a week nurturing, eventually harvesting (and sometimes sharing) homegrown food.

Recently, a lifetime friend of mine in the Twin Cities (Billy Joel would have called him a “real estate novelist”) told me he was going to take one of his perennial flower plots and turn it into a small vegetable garden…but he was going to call me first to get some thoughts and advice. And that got me thinking…maybe I have something to offer other people, as well who want to try and grow their own food. I began my gardening journey as young kid helping my Depression-era parents in the wonderful garden they kept. They were people who were into organics and composting before anybody knew what those terms meant. They mysteriously instilled in me a true love of “playing in the dirt.” And I’ve been messing around in different garden plots for about a half century ever since. I have no formal training in growing stuff. I’ve just experienced dozens of spring plantings, summer weeding sessions, sequential plantings and fall harvests. And I’ve learned things along the way – mostly through trial and error.

This little writing experiment is my attempt at passing on some of things that I have “figured out.” This column will go in a lot of different directions. I hope at least some of these future thoughts are helpful and interesting to you…and I’d love to get feedback on what you think and what your similar experiences have been in that little slice of heaven you call your garden. Thanks for taking the time to indulge me in this effort.

When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.  – Minnie Aumonier


Next week:
The zamboni tilling method.


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