My mother’s gorgeous summer vegetable garden shows signs of a seriously green thumb.
Friday is my 4-year-old daughter Thalia's favorite time of the week, hands-down. It's what I think of as her "nature camp" day, which she usually spends at my parents' farm some 20 minutes from our home in Nashville, Tennessee. There, she sows seeds, waters, picks flowers and berries, feeds chickens, gathers eggs, hobnobs with goats, and sifts potting mix through her little fingers. And gets very, very dirty. She's a lucky kid.
Ours is a family of plant lovers and avid gardeners, with "avid" being a sort of gross understatement. My folks have gifted me with a deep passion and respect for the magic and cyclical pleasures of nature—not to mention the gallons of blueberries, tomatoes, squash, herbs, and more that we haul home from regular visits to their place every spring and summer.
I'd like to tell you that I inherited that kind of double-strength green thumb, but so far, I'm pretty sure more plants have perished than thrived under my care. Still, I keep trying, and my enthusiasm for growing things only, well, grows. Each spring I observe the progress of my mom's vegetable garden, its bounty so much more robust than that of my own garden, and she feeds me advice (along with cuttings, tools, and truckloads of my dad's homemade compost). In the past, though, I haven't always been the best at following it.
"Pinch 'em back!" Mom says, invoking one of the first tips she herself heard from a seasoned gardener decades ago. That is, don't ever be afraid to cut, or prune, your plants. The more you do, the more they'll happily send out new growth.