I’ve been dipping my toe into the pool of gardening these last few years, but this summer I really dove in. With the help of my green-thumbed boyfriend, we established a small vegetable garden held in three different ecosystems—an aquaponics system (the bass are alive and well!), a hydroponic system, and a more traditional outdoor garden. Through these three systems, we’re growing citronella, onions, garlic, lettuce, parsley, basil, lavender, cucumbers, mint, rosemary, and strawberries. It’s been fun seeing how different plants thrive in the different environments—the garden-grown lettuce is rooted and blooming fantastically, while the hydroponic lettuce is a little limp, causing us to play with different elements (sun, water, nutrients) to try and revive it. I love seeing how the small adjustments we make to our plants’ care impacts their growth—it is such a tangible payoff! I also love the peaceful task of watering the plants each morning, it is so calming and a great way to start my day.

The success of this year’s garden is encouraging me to take a larger leap for next year—we have plans to build some raised beds and establish a permanent year-round garden, where we grow both flowers and food. Maybe we’ll even experiment with some harder-to-grow plants, or try our hand at landscaping. We’ll be at a small scale, but this is still much larger than anything I ever thought I’d be tackling!

I credit PRA’s community garden with pushing me towards establishing my own garden. Our office is filled with skilled and enthusiastic gardeners, who are always quick to give tips, advice, and encouragement to even the most novice gardener. I’m so grateful for their advice and love that I had the PRA community garden to try out gardening in a low-risk way. Maybe in a few years, I’ll be one of the skilled gardeners!