Welcome to Empress of Dirt!
I am Melissa J. Will a.k.a. the Empress of Dirt ♛
Ontario, Canada (hardiness zone 6)
My garden writing comes from many years of gardening in a cold climate, four-season garden combined with an insatiable desire for science-based facts instead of folklore.
While many plant care tips are universal, the information on this site is mostly suited to US & Canadian hardiness zones 4-8.
Recurring themes throughout this site include prioritizing ecosystems in all garden decisions, supporting local wildlife by growing native plants, an insatiable love of hummingbirds, the endless possibilities when you grow your own food, and the quest to try propagating everything from avocado pits to the toughest seeds.
I also share thrifty home and garden DIY projects.
Email: melissa @ empressofdirt.net (without spaces)
Curious? How Empress of Dirt Got Its Name
1My Story and Yours
Have you ever seen a gorgeous garden and thought, I want that but I have no idea to get started?
That was me when I started out as a gardener. I went on my first local garden tour and saw this fabulous and unusual garden—just blocks from my own home—filled with gorgeous plants and garden art.
It was quirky, beautiful, and unique, and the actual landscape had all the same flaws that I was fighting in my own yard.
I met the gardener and she told me she did everything on a very low budget and started out with little or no gardening knowledge.
That was all I needed to hear.
I thought to myself: If she can do it, I can too! Right?
Mind you, I had no idea what I was doing, or how I’d get there, but just hearing that it was possible to make something so wonderful on a tiny budget with a terrible yard (my previous garden, not the one you see pictured above), changed my thinking and suddenly I knew I would have my dream garden one day.
All these years later, after many plants, trials, errors, sweet successes, and repurposed garden art projects, I have indeed got the garden of my dreams—but it’s definitely not the end game.
What I learned along the way is, the cliché is true: it’s all about the journey, not the destination.
Like many of us, while I started with traditional ornamental gardening, I am now transitioning to eco-beneficial gardening, including as many native plants as I can to support the circle of life.
Years ago gardeners were encouraged to grow whatever they like.
Today we know our plant choices and yard-care practices make a big impact on the environment and our choices matter. Collectively, our little gardens can do so much.
Gardens are living things that grow and change and continually renew. We can plan and plot and scheme to achieve certain milestones, but there will always be negotiation with nature, and, if we’re lucky, we will adapt and engage in ways that offer us something even better than we envisioned.
And it all seems to come together when garden organically, considering the bigger picture. I use “organic” here to mean with the intention of supporting our local ecosystem and all the creatures that bring it to life.
If you’re just starting out or simply want some creative ideas to use for your growing space—whether it’s a balcony, patio, or yard, you’ve come to the right place.
I started out with a budget of just $100 per year, and now, all these years later (and a move from my old dream garden to a new barren one where I had to start from scratch), I’m still a total frugalista. I love the garden, the plants, the wildlife, the seasons, and my place in it.
Follow along and I’ll do my best go share my best with you and help you find the way to your dream garden too.
Fresh, creative & frugal garden ideas delivered to your inbox every two weeks.
3Books by Melissa J. Will
- Seed Starting for Beginners | Sow Inside Grow Outside
- Top Garden Tip Sheets | Handy Checklists & Growing Tips
- 25 Garden Art Projects & Ideas
- One-of-a-Kind Garden Ideas | For Your Growing Space
- How to Paint Shoes | A beginner’s guide for creating custom canvas shoes with acrylic paint
- Fabric Dyeing 101 | Simple instructions for beautiful fabrics
- Growing Salads Indoors | A beginner’s guide to producing healthy, delicious greens in your home year-round
- How to Make Beeswax Food Wraps | A long-lasting substitute for plastic cling wrap
- Kitchen Propagation Handbook | 7 Fruits and Vegetables to Regrow as Houseplants
- Printable Garden Planner | For planning and tracking your garden
- Printable Plant Labels | For organizing seeds and more
4Empress of Dirt TV
Our podcast is hosted by my husband Gary Will. If you enjoy a straight-forward, science-based dive into garden-related topics, this is for you. Click here for sample episodes and subscription info
It’s the organic potato chip of podcasts!
6Mailing & Contact Address
Regular mail only. Cannot accept courier deliveries at this address.
- Melissa J Will – Empress of Dirt
PO BOX 20012 78 FRONT ST E
STRATHROY ON N7G 4L6 CANADA
Email: melissa @ empressofdirt.net (without spaces)
7Media Partners, Features, and Sponsors
- Apartment Therapy
- Birds and Blooms
- Canadian House and Home
- Country Sampler
- Country Sampler Farmhouse Style Kitchens
- Farmer’s Almanac
- Lovely Greens
- Pretty Handy Girl
- Raised Bed Revolution
- Reader’s Digest
- This Old House
- The Spruce
- Winnipeg Free Press
Sponsors / Partners
- Etsy Canada
- Quarto Publishing
- Tuttle Publishing
My website theme was designed/coded by the wonderful
You can see her work and contact her at alicepriestley.com.
9Copyright and Permissions
- All content on this site is © 2000-2023 – Melissa J. Will (Empress of Dirt) unless otherwise stated.
- Use of any written content/copy/text on this site is prohibited.
- Contact melissa @ empressofdirt.net (without spaces) for licence fees.
- Guest posts are not accepted at this time.
- Please contact melissa @ empressofdirt.net (without spaces) for any other permissions.