Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Helping you up the mountain


A neighbor recently referred to me as a "Garden Sherpa." I like this word "Sherpa," because learning how to grow your own food can indeed feel like climbing a mountain. With my garden coaching program, I build your confidence, ease intimidation, limit frustration and ensure you enjoy the view at the top, i.e. a bountiful harvest. I aim to make gardening simple and pleasurable for the tired parent, the busy professional, or the novice grower who is devoted to learning but has a zillion other things on her mind and doesn't know where to start.

By making an up-front investment in your education, you will have a much higher success rate than if you tried gardening on your own, alleviating expense in the long run since learning by trial and error can be quite costly.

Garden coaching client, Meagen of Oakley, fed her bounty to her husband and two young boys, and still had plenty to share with her neighbors.
If things don't go perfectly, I'm here to walk you through the possible culprits as well as give you important perspective—if Mother Nature has something to teach us, she will make sure events unfold to do so. These lessons are all part of the educational experience. I balance the amount of instruction I give with enough independence so that students learn to pay attention to cues from their intuition, feeling into the plants' needs, so they can avoid stumbles in the future.

I design your program specifically to meet your experience level, needs and schedules. It typically entails about seven visits to your property throughout the year. We discuss your plans in mid-autumn, build the soil by early winter, prep the beds and plant from mid-spring to late summer, install season-extension hoops before winter, and trellis, prune, harvest and troubleshoot as needed.

I review your budget at the beginning of the program and list out the supplies for you to collect before each of my visits. I then give you hands-on assistance while at your property, go over activities for you to do in between our appointments, and leave you with documents that reiterate what you learned. I'm careful to give you just the right amount of information without overloading you with too much material, and make sure the experience is fun! My clients often tell me how therapeutic working in the garden is for them.

Garden coach clients, Liz and Cliff of East Asheville, in mid-June, a month after planting

One month later - look at the growth by mid-July!
If you're interested in having a Garden Sherpa by your side for the 2017 growing season, be sure to contact me soon. Once the leaves fall, we start building the soil, layering piles of organic matter to decompose over winter, which creates a soil ecosystem for optimal plant health. The decomposition process takes about four months, so we need to lay out the beds in late autumn or early winter so the soil is ready for planting by spring.

Do you have limited growing space at your home but want to be involved with the growing of your own food? I will likely offer a Group Gardening Coaching program on site at M R Gardens in 2017. You can improve your gardening skills at my farm with hands-on activities, participating at the level that you are able to—which may mean just one lesson a month, or up to two sessions a week depending on your availability. You not only gain knowledge about growing, but also take home baskets of vegetables, fruit and herbs! It contains all the elements of the individual garden coaching experience, except you won't need to invest in many tools and equipment, and you will likely learn about a wider variety of plants.

I'm casually gauging interest for this program now, so contact me if Group Garden Coaching interests you. Keep an eye out in future newsletters for more information. Call 828.333.4151 or email gardens@wncmretc.com to set up a meeting at the farm to discuss your interests, your availability and pricing.