Joi is a woman of many talents. She bakes, crafts, cooks, comforts, shelters, and protects. She is a poet and a photographer and just recently got married! I have known her as a poet and member of the collective Word Iz Bond for years, though not closely. I came to learn about the rest of her multi talents when we started meeting to write together last year. We haven’t met regularly in the last year. I had my baby and she was preparing to get married ( and doing a zillion other things to make the people in her life smile). So somewhere between last summer and this one, Joi became a gardener.
I saw photos online of gorgeous green beans and had to go see them for myself. We had talked out it during writing sessions last summer but I didn’t know she had actually started!
So I got back there and basically stepped into the Garden of Eden. Let’s call it the Garden of Joi. Feeling deceived but ten times moreso, impressed, I wondered when had she done all this between outdoor adventures, photo shoots, and wedding planning.
Here are some photos and a bit of our conversation during my tour of the Garden of Joi.
What’s growing here?
We have garlic chives, summer savory, pineapple mint, cilantro, jalapenos. Here is thyme, golden oregano and hot and spicy oregano, rosemary…(She shows me more as we go along)
I am so impressed with you.
I am so impressed with me. Who would have thought this was my life right?
How did you choose what to grow?
We tried to go with stuff we would use, like the basil and oregano I will use regularly. We’re drying some for the winter and then if I’m cooking dinner I’ll grab it fresh. Then we’ve got dill weed because I’m pickling cucumbers. We use jalapenos for our hamburgers.
Pickling? Who are you?
How easy has it been?
It was a lot to get started- just in getting the supplies and remembering what needs what. We found out some things don’t work beside each other. We had cilantro grow on this side (indicates one corner of the garden bed) and it died. We read and try to see what’s happening. It was also a lot to get the beds started. Richard was also concerned about soil composition and drainage and making sure it was just right so it would be easy for me.
Tell us one thing about soil composition.
if your ph level for your soil is too high or low that things don’t grow right. so for Nova Scotia there are certain plants that will grow better for our type of soil. you can go on the soil chart it will tell you what soil you have for what area you are in. Where we did the raised bed it was about having rocks on the bottom then fertilizer, your compost/ manure, then you’re dirt, making sure everything was spaced properly. They’re grown so far from where their spaces were, it’s really interesting to watch now they make a home for themselves.
Why did you start growing your own vegetables?
A lot of it had to do with the kids. We wanted the kids to see it an follow it through. we can plant this seed and then we can grow it into something that’s gonna be on our plate. We do a lot of cooking with our kids too so it seemed like a good thing. we’ve always wanted to do it so we decided ‘okay it’s tie for us to try this now.’
Joi shows me pickling cucumbers and how the leaves were choking the weeds: “See how they grab on? the cucumbers were like ‘if we’re gonna fight, we’re gonna win’.”
So you notice a difference in taste?
HUGE difference! Even last night we at the green beans and we were just like, “Wow”. They were so fresh, and crunchy and flavorful. it was different and wonderful. i make homemade spaghetti sauce and i use fresh tomatoes and herbs. I don’t use anything dried anymore. Richard is waiting for the tomatoes so that I can make the sauce.
These here are edible flowers. They attract bees so we gotta keep them around our fruit. Up front we have two blueberry bushes with flowers in between them.
What would you say to people who want to grow their food but don’t know where to start?
it’s a lot of detailed work but it’s easier once you get started. it’s something you should totally do because there is no better feeling than watching your own food grow and then eating it. it’s really rewarding! I never imagined I would love it this much. we get up in the morning and go check the plants and then at night we check the plants. you see so much growth in a day.
How is gardening related to environmentalism for you?
I try to teach kids about sustainability and making smart choices for the environment. In our family we do everything that we can. We’ve started composting for the garden. It’s even cut back on our green waste.
It’s more sustainable to grow your own food. it’s healthier and better. we have control over what’s going into this food. It’s something that we can share with everybody. We’re totally planning for next summer.
Thanks for the interview Joi (and for the green beans, oregano and peppermint-taste was definitely vivid)