Typically, we are always SO busy, juggling our demanding work schedules and keeping up with family time, while trying to maintain somewhat active social lives. When we do get a moment to breathe, we may stumble on a picture in a magazine of a beautifully maintained vegetable garden, with juicy tomatoes and plump eggplants, wishing we had the time or know how, to have our own. However, as of late, we have all found ourselves in an extremely unique situation, with EXTRA time at home.
So, for anyone who has dreamed of having a farm-to-table experience straight from their own backyard, or just now realized the luxury it would be to avoid germ filled grocery stores, NOW is the time to get your green thumb growing. We (virtually) sat down with gardening guru, Jackie Seidman, from Jackie And The Beanstalk, to get a sense of HOW TO, for all of you! According to her, “There is NOTHING quite as rewarding as taking a walk in your garden and harvesting the fruits and vegetables you have nurtured from seedlings.”
But first, a little bit ABOUT Jackie And The Beanstalk:Spending time in the Catskill Mountains of New York as a young child, Jackie developed a deep passion for gardening, as she foraged for wild blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. She took those early childhood experiences and translated them into growing a veritable jungle of houseplants in her first apartment. Once living in California, Jackie had a one-acre property, where she enjoyed growing EVERYTHING she ate! After downsizing eight years ago, Jackie is still extremely content growing veggies in pots, and tending to her nine potted fruit trees. When asked what she loves most about gardening, Jackie said it had to be the feeling of optimism every time she puts a plant or seed into the ground and loving the overwhelming feeling of sharing the bounty of her garden with others, along with her knowledge and passion for all things growing.
For the past 30 years, Jackie has run an extremely large and productive ORGANIC vegetable garden in addition to consulting with homeowners to give their gardens a FRESH look. As a San Diego Master Gardener since 2001 and a Board Member of the San Diego Chapter of APLD, Jackie’s areas of expertise include; Fruit and Vegetable Gardens, Water-wise Plants, Conceptual Landscape Design using the Watershed Approach to Sustainable Landscaping. Jackie’s services range from consultation and mentoring, for anyone who wants to learn how to grow fruits and vegetables, to full service design, where she is involved from the inception to the completion of the installation.
What does a consultation session look like with Jackie And The Beanstalk?
Jackie asks each homeowner to devote at least one hour for the initial consultation. During that time, she listens carefully to the client’s gardening goals and dreams, to see if she can help make them into a reality! If requested, Jackie will offer suggestions and advice, to determine together if it is a good fit. Jackie goes over with her clients Sustainable Gardening practices which include; Retrofit irrigation to use less water, reducing the size of lawn where practical, and replacing it with colorful, climate-appropriate, water-wise plants, (which do not have to be succulents), Mulch garden beds to retain soil moisture and feed the soil, using bio-swales or dry river beds to help water percolate into the property, how to reduce water costs, getting kids involved with gardening, and ways to reduce the carbon footprint by growing edibles.
From there, Jackie spends a lot of time collaborating with each client, crafting what their dream garden would look like- the one that lures them outside to sit and relax to enjoy the spaces they have created. Jackie focuses on every part of the garden; how it will be used, by how many people, and what elements clients would like to incorporate, i.e. Fire Features, Water Features, Swimming pools, Organic Vegetable Gardens, Fruit trees. In addition, Jackie asks each client to do some homework: to send her a dozen photos of gardens that speak to their SOUL. From those photos, Jackie gathers information about what the final product will look like.
Jackie and the Beanstalk’s Gardening Tips for Beginners:For anyone wanting to grow their first garden, Jackie says, “DO IT,” gushing that gardening is absolutely contagious. She says that people tend to start small, and then always want more and more, laughing that she has unleashed many monsters! However, for beginners, Jackie always cautions NOT to take on more than you can handle. She advises that it is better to start slowly and have success, than to take on too much and feel overwhelmed. THIS leads to continued success! Thus, Jackie recommends planting starter veggies, rather than seeds for first time veggie gardeners. She says that in the beginning, gardening newcomers should be outside checking on the progress of their newly planted gardens DAILY, whether they be edibles or ornamentals.
Farm-to-table Benefits:Jackie argues that there is truly NOTHING better than eating fruits and vegetables that you have just picked, painting a picture of eating fresh fruit off of a tree, still warm from the sun. Her theory is that they are still LIVING, as the oxygen flow has not yet been interrupted, making for the freshly-picked taste.
A Few Favorites:Jackie says, no two of the gardens she has designed look-alike, and that ALL of them are her favorite. She says that she loves every project that she works on, and gets such satisfaction when a project is complete. She gets such a sense of joy walking around with her clients after a completed project, going over how to care for each plant. Although gardens are always a work in progress, she loves to admire a finished product!
Jackie’s favorite plants to grow are edibles, specifically, her favorite vegetables are tomatoes, cucumbers, cauliflower, and asparagus. She mentioned how few people realize how sweet cauliflower and asparagus are when freshly picked. In addition, Jackie loves having a myriad of culinary herbs on hand, so that when she needs them, she can just go out with her clippers and get what she needs (how convenient would that be?) Gardenias are always her favorite flower. When they are in bloom, she picks one every day and puts it in a vase in her car, desk, or next to her bed.
To learn more about Jackie And The Beanstalk, and how to turn your backyard into a lush oasis, visit her website!