How does your garden grow?


Just last month, George and I set out for our very first visit to the Stratford Ecological Center, just south of Delaware city. We had read in The Gazette about a “seed sowing workshop” presented by the Delaware County Master Gardeners. It was George’s idea to go, because since his retirement, he has become very interested in having a nice garden.

Over the years, we have heard a lot about this wonderful place, but have never been there. We thought it was just off of Liberty Road but found ourselves on a long winding trail of beautiful trees and about a 1/4 mile later, we found the buildings. The parking lot was filled. As we approached the classroom, we could hear the speaker talking about “seed sowing.” We were lucky to find two empty seats and joined in the lesson immediately.

They were talking about using one-ply toilet tissue and gluing seeds on it at every few inches. They provided the glue, the little sticks to put it on with, and the paper.

So, in no time, we felt we were learning more in those first few minutes than we hoped to learn during the entire class. My mother had a garden at every house we ever lived in, but she never attended a class since her knowledge for gardening had been passed down in her family through the years. From her gardens, she was always able to can enough vegetables to get us through the winters. I don’t remember her using any toilet tissue in her gardens. She did it the hard way.

Sooner than you can imagine, the class was over, and they were handing out gallon milk jugs cut in half and filled with soil. One of the speakers said not to call it “dirt” because dirt is what is on your hands when you work in a garden. Flower seeds had already been planted in those jugs and will start to grow as soon as the weather gets warmer.

On our trip home, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that I was a 5-year-old who had a lot to learn pertaining to gardening. Everyone was willing to help us because they knew we didn’t know much of anything because it was written all over our faces.

Becoming a “Master Gardener” has to be right up there with getting a higher education in college. I always wondered about the people who were Master Gardeners and had articles in the paper about their work. I never imagined myself as being one. While growing up it was more important to me to get my homework done than to spend time helping our mother in the garden. If I had it to do all over again, I think I might have spent a little more time in the garden. Anyone who has talked to George knows that he isn’t talking about his horses anymore. He’s talking about building a compost pile and having watermelons growing in a box. (That is in order to have a square watermelon.)

We look forward to driving out to the ecological center when the weather becomes warmer and hope to see what is on the rest of the land where the barns are. Our friend, Liz, told us that she works there on Tuesdays and would be glad to give us a tour. We have heard about the things they sell, one of which is honey. We feel we have missed an entire education by not discovering the Stratford Ecological Center earlier in our lives.

By Kay Conklin

Contributing columnist

Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.

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