Gardening is a lot of work, but Kristina Sherman says it’s rewarding on many levels.
“It’s hard to explain unless you actually do it. There’s something very special about it,” she says. “It’s how I grew up. I tell people it’s a genetic disorder; it’s almost like I can’t NOT do it.”
Sherman has a vegetable garden that’s 40-feet-by-60-feet, an apple tree and some smaller vegetable, herb and flower gardens, where she spends hours each day during the growing season. Here’s why she loves it:
1. I saw how happy it made my mom and grandma. And when I did some genealogy research, I found that I come from a very long family of farmers.
I grew up in Aurora. In the summer my mom would have a job list for us. We’d have to weed a row before we could go down to the lake and play for the day. So it reminds me of those times.
2. My husband, Ed didn’t grow up gardening, but now he gets it. And my children – Madeline, 9, and Braden, 7 – help me plant. It’s a nice family activity.
3. My extended family shares with each other whatever we may have a bumper crop of that year. My sister and Mom share tomatoes with me, and I share things like strawberries and raspberries with them. My grandmother is 97 and still has her own gardens, and I really enjoy talking about gardening with her.
4. In the spring everybody knows that I’ll put on Facebook: “I’m digging up perennial flowers. Come get some.” I like trading flowers with friends. I’ll plant something in my garden, and when I see it bloom, I think of the person who gave it to me.
5. I do “companion planting,” which means that certain things grow better when they’re near certain things, so I research all winter long. I keep a gardening journal, and I use Cornell Cooperative Extension to troubleshoot. It keeps me occupied all winter.
6. My children don’t mind eating vegetables because they’re so, so good when they’re fresh. It’s hard to buy produce at the store after you’ve had it fresh grown at your house. There’s definitely a taste difference.
7. Nothing ever goes to waste. I’ll make relish and pickles and jams forever until I use everything up.
I can or freeze everything that we don’t eat immediately. The only thing I haven’t figured out how to preserve is asparagus. It does not freeze. I make 40 quarts of tomato sauce and that gets us through the winter.
8. I’ve never calculated how much, but I’m sure it saves money. If I had to buy asparagus to eat every day for the last two weeks, I’m sure it would get pretty pricey. A few years ago, I invested $10 for 50 strawberry plants with tiny, tiny little roots – and I picked 50 quarts of strawberries the next year. I just have really good soil for strawberries.
9. People call me Farmer Kris. I take that as a compliment.
Kristina Sherman is a respiratory therapist at Upstate University Hospital’s Community campus.