Melodie Metje, Small-Space and Container Gardener
Occupation: Full time-Engineer at Procter & Gamble, Part time-gardener and blogger
Place of Residence: West Chester, Ohio
Background and Personal History:
Every gardener has her own story on how or why she got started gardening.
Melodie has fond memories of long summer days at her Granny’s. She had a BIG garden. Melodie's sister and she were always Granny’s little helpers. Of course, Granny was also a wonderful cook.
Melodie migrated from flowers to herbs and, most recently, to veggies. She loves fragrance and ran across a clearance herb book. It listed many herbs that could be grown indoors. She thought that would be a great idea to grow good-smelling herbs to freshen the house over the winter. When spring came, she transplanted them outdoors.
She toyed with adding veggies, but wasn’t sure how that would work out, living on a golf course! Melodie's family doesn't have a big yard and they couldn’t till up the backyard to put in a garden. Their garden also had to meet the landscaping requirements of the golf community.
Melodie decided to try it out, incorporating vegetables and herbs into her flower bed. Her concerns were diminished when the golfers began complementing her “flowers.” It is amazing how much you can grow in very little space and how great it can look!
Through Melodie's trials and tribulations of learning to garden on her own, she imagined her Granny looking down at her with that twinkle in her eye and a huge smile, laughing along with her. She knows Granny would be proud of what a little gardener she has become and how much Melodie's family now gets from their little patch of land.
Melodie wanted to grow veggies like my grandmother did, the old-fashioned way without chemicals. She read a lot of magazines and books to learn how to grow organically in the small space available in the flower garden and pots on the patio.
Melodie intersperses her vegetables and herbs with flowers. Not only does it look beautiful, but the flowers attract the pollinators that boost vegetable production. She plants her cabbages and peppers with petunias in pots on the patio and line the border of her vegetable garden with day lilies, dianthus and marigolds.
She has learned you can grow healthy plants without chemicals. The “bad” bugs came the first year. It took a couple of years for the beneficial insects to proliferate and keep the “bad” bugs under control. She's even learned companion planting and simple crop rotation to help with diseases and keep pests down.
The family grows the basic herbs; herbs are so easy to grow. Oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, savory, basil, chives, borage, salad burnet, dill, garlic, mustard all live happily.
They grow all the produce they can eat and have much left over to put away for the winter. Tomatoes, peppers (cayenne, Ancho, Jalapeno, Pimento, sweet peppers), zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers, lettuce, chard, French sorrel, purslane, onions, broccoli raab, sunflowers, Fava beans, strawberries, cabbage. Melodie struggles with broccoli, the rabbits eat it as fast as it grows! But she's ordered some green rabbit fencing that she's planning on surrounding each broccoli plant.
Melodie uses many compact or dwarf types so they will not overpower the small garden space or pot. She has found that lettuce, hot peppers, cabbage, and zucchini all grow very well in pots. She does succession planting for lettuce to have lettuce spring, summer and fall. She even bought a NatureMill composter so she can compost in the garage. Between composting and recycling, her family produces very little that has to go to the landfill.
Additionally, Melodie learned to can a couple of years ago to put up all the extra tomatoes she grew. She also put up a few jars of no-sugar-added fruit using pectin and stevia.
She's learned to blanch and freeze greens, peas, and beans; to dry herbs, garlic, harden winter squash; to make and freeze pesto with her extra basil and parsley, make pickles with the extra cucumber. Her family even gets raw milk from a local farmer and makes cheese and yogurt.
As Melodie got started gardening, other family members wanted to get started on their own and were asking many questions. To help guide them and to keep track of what was happening in the garden, she started my own blog and called it “Victory Garden on the Golf Course.” She named it after the victory gardens grown to help the WWII effort. Melodie thinks we are in a similar situation today; our country needs our help in battling the war on ill health. We can grow our own food in small spaces. It is more nutritious, it takes so much less energy, can be grown with zero chemicals, and is so convenient to be able to walk right out your door for your dinner.
She loves being able to get others gardening as well. Melodie was given an Egyptian walking onion from a B&B in Kansas. It is a perennial that grows great in a pot or the ground. It puts on bulblet tops every June. This year, she took all of them to a woman’s breakfast she and her coworkers were having at work (Melodie is an engineer). She was blown away by the interest and enthusiasm of these hard-working women growing their own onions.
Melodie believes the tide has turned, and growing your own and eating nutritious food is gaining traction. It is so heart warming! Check out Melodie's blog at www.VictoryGardenOnTheGolfCourse.com
Gardening and writing about it on her “Victory Garden on the Golf Course” blog and a monthly Garden Spot article in Wetherington Connection magazine