Urban Organic Gardener Interviewing Mia from “@miaslittlefarm”
What state and grow zone do you live in?
I live (and garden!) in Nashville, TN, which is zone 7a. We are blessed with an incredibly long growing season here. It’s not unusual to be able to grow things from March – December.
Tell us more about your efforts in Beekeeping!
I’ve been concerned for quite awhile over the diminishing honey bee population, and starting looking into beekeeping several years ago. I was thrilled to discover a thriving beekeeping community in Nashville, and to discover that Tennessee is very accommodating of beekeepers, making it legal for almost anyone, anywhere to keep bees. Last year I took a class and plunged into the world of honey bees. We now have 4 hives on our tiny urban farm. Since keeping bees I’ve noticed a huge improvement in pollination in the garden. Unfortunately honey bees are plagued by many pests and diseases. I use only natural beekeeping methods (and constant vigilance!), and so far our bees seem happy and healthy. I love talking with friends and neighbors about the importance of honeybees, urban beekeeping, and how to help save the bees. Being that we are in an urban setting we have to deal with whatever chemicals and poisons neighbors might spray in their yard, that could compromise the bees and other beneficial insects. Not surprisingly, many people don’t realize that something so simple as trying to eradicate mosquitoes in their yard can have dire consequences for bees.
We love your bright and colorful garden. How does your garden space reflect your own personal taste or personality the most?
Having a colorful, eclectic garden is important to me. There is nothing better than looking out the window when I’m stuck inside and seeing the rainbow colored fence, the brightly colored beehives, my Grandaddy’s horseshoes hanging on the fence – it makes me happy to be surrounded by vibrant colors. Having little pops of art and brightness in the garden is wonderful on a dreary winter day when nothing is growing. Although I plant mainly in raised beds, my garden is a bit wild. I love letting plants go to seed and then having the new sprouts pop up to surprise me. There are always volunteer dill, borage, basil, or zinnia popping up throughout the garden, and to me it makes the space so inviting (the beneficial insects think so too!) Although I really admire geometric gardens that have perfectly straight rows and magazine-cover looks, my garden will never look like that. I rarely try to tame or confine my plants (unless it’s necessary for their health or an issue of space); I let them grown and reach and spread. I like to try unconventional combinations (Right now I have a volunteer sunflower growing right in the middle of a bed of tomatoes and peppers. I’ve heard that sunflowers shouldn’t be grown alongside other plants because they could inhibit growth, but so far everything is doing great). I like to tuck flowers and herbs throughout all my planting spaces – borage and basil with tomatoes, dill and nasturtiums with squashes or cucumbers, zinnia and marigolds everywhere! Like me, my garden is a bit untamed and maybe a little messy, but underneath it all my garden does what it is supposed to do – provides my family and friends with healthy, organically grown food.
What’s your favorite crop to grow and why?
A favorite crop – I have to pick a favorite crop? That’s so hard! I think I love my perennial culinary herbs the best. I have two perennial herb beds, one in the front yard and one in back. Just about year round there is some sort of fresh herb growing and ready to add a touch of freshness to a meal. Even in the dead of winter I can usually find some thyme or sage to use. Herbs add so much to even the most simple meal, and there is nothing like growing your own. It’s also great that most herbs attract beneficial insects when they flower in the spring. Flowering thyme and oregano especially seen to attract lots of good bugs.