What’s it like to live and garden in Minneapolis, Minnesota? Amy Andrychowicz of Get Busy Gardening is giving us a glimpse of gardening life in this midwestern state.
This is part of a series on favourite garden bloggers to inspire your garden life.
Life as a Gardener in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Amy Andrychowicz – Get Busy Gardening
- Minneapolis, MN
- First Frost: September 20
- Last Frost: May 15
- USDA zone: 4b
- Growing I enjoy growing vegetables, herbs, annuals, perennials, succulents, tropical plants, and houseplants – you name, I’ve grown it!
1 Tell us where you’re from and how you ended up where you are now.
It’s not a very exciting story! I grew up in Minneapolis, and have lived here in Minnesota most of my life. I went to college just north of the city, and also lived in San Diego for a year. Other than that, I’ve always lived in the Minneapolis metro area.
2 How did you become a gardener?
I get my green thumb from my parents, and I’ve been gardening for most of my life.
My love of houseplants comes from my mom, and my love of outdoor gardening comes from my dad.
I’ve always grown houseplants, and have had some kind of a garden everywhere I’ve ever lived – even if it was just a few containers on a tiny balcony back in the days when I lived an apartment.
3 Tell us about your garden. What are the perks and challenges of gardening where you are?
The house I live in now is the first home I’ve ever owned. When we moved here, the yard was pretty much all lawn. The “landscaping” consisted of a few bushes and some ugly hostas plopped in front of the house.
Over the years, we’ve transformed our boring suburban yard into a garden oasis by adding several flower gardens, a large vegetable garden, a tropical garden, a rain garden, a Zen garden, two ponds, and many unique hardscape features – all of which were DIY projects.
Since it was a pretty new neighborhood when we moved here, I had full sun everywhere except for a few areas next to my house. I didn’t’ know how good I had it until the fences started going up and the trees grew taller, slowly turning many of my full sun gardens into shade gardens.
That’s been a huge learning experience (and super frustrating at times), and I’ve had to relocate many plants to sunny areas over the years. But there are many benefits too. The sandy soil is wonderful for growing, and we have lots of space to work with. Plus starting with a blank canvas was a pretty awesome experience!
Win a Copy of Vertical Vegetables
Cool Springs Press is kindly sponsoring this giveaway of TWO copies of Amy’s new book, Vertical Vegetables.
See how to enter at the bottom of this page. CONGRATS to Avis F. and Mic Dawson who both won copies of the book.
Vertical Vegetables is the secret to making the most of your space; when you grow upward rather than outward, you will double or triple the yield from your small-space garden.
by Amy Andrychowicz
4 How has gardening changed you?
I guess the biggest thing that comes to mind is the appreciation for nature and bugs. Haha!
I grew up in the city, so suburbia is a whole different ball game, and there are a LOT more bugs out here. I used to hate any type of bug and wanted them all gone.
I still don’t love bugs but have grown to appreciate their importance in my garden.
Being as organic as possible has become even more important to me now that I understand the delicate balance of good bugs -vs- the pests in my garden.
5 Any fabulous gardening or DIY mistakes to share?
Oh man, I could probably write a book! I have learned so many things by trial and error, and it’s definitely made me a better gardener! But since I just got done writing my first book Vertical Vegetables, the story about the first time I grew pole beans in my own garden is fresh in my mind.
Right after college, I was living in a rental house that had a few small garden beds, and I was excited to try gardening on my own for the first time.
I have fond memories of eating green beans fresh from the vine as a kid, so I decided to grow those.
I planted the entire packet of seeds in a small bed (about 2’ x 4’, if that), and patiently waited for them to grow. I was super excited once they started growing, but it didn’t take long before I realized I needed to give the fast-growing vines some kind of support.
I found a few wire tomato cages in the garage, so I used those, and carefully trained my little green bean vines to grow up the cages. LOL! I think that lasted two days before the vines outgrew the cages.
In the end, the vines grew up the legs and railings of the deck, and all the way up the stairs. I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of green beans I harvested too!
I remember bringing buckets full of beans to work with me every day, and trying to pawn them off on my co-workers.
That was the summer I learned a lesson about vertical gardening, and also about the importance of plant (seed) spacing.
6 What are you exploring in gardening these days?
For the past year and a half, I’ve been crazy busy working on my first book, Vertical Vegetables. So vertical vegetable gardening has been my obsession, and the main focus of everything in my garden for the past two summers.
I had the pleasure of designing and building 23 DIY vertical gardening projects for the book.
I’ve also been able to experiment with growing all kinds of vegetables vertically in fun and unique ways (not just pole beans!).
Since focusing on growing vertically so much, and building several new structures in my gardens, it’s really changed the way I’ve been growing food.
7 What do you hope visitors to your site experience?
On Get Busy Gardening, I want visitors to find ideas and inspiration, and to gain knowledge and the confidence to turn their dream garden into a reality.
There’s no such thing as a black thumb, anyone can be a gardener! Just have fun with it!
And for goodness sakes, don’t be so afraid to kill a plant now and then, or have an epic failure in the garden! It happens to everyone (whether they admit it or not). It’s all a part of the learning process.
8 Can you share a good tip or advice for new gardeners?
Test the soil before you plant anything. Most new gardeners don’t realize that everything starts with the soil, and many of the failures they experience are because of problems with the soil. It’s easy to do using a home soil test kit, here’s how.
Second, mulch your gardens! It’s the best way to control the weeds, makes watering easier, and can also prevent soil borne diseases. Learn how to mulch your vegetable garden here.
Lastly, start small. One of the biggest mistakes that new gardeners make is that they get really excited about growing all their own food or having beautiful flower beds, so they dig up a huge area in the spring. Then they become overwhelmed once the weeds and bugs start to appear in mid-summer, and usually give up by fall – completely defeated and feeling like a failure. That’s not a good first experience! If you’ve never gardened before, just start with a small bed, and add to it as you get the hang of gardening.
9 Have you got some DIY projects for a rainy afternoon?
1 YES! My new book, Vertical Vegetables is jam-packed with tons of DIY projects that will keep you busy for several rainy afternoons!
2 My DIY squash arch has been a huge hit, and looks amazing in the garden!
3 Painting terracotta pots is also a really fun project for a rainy day!
Follow Amy at Get Busy Gardening
Win a Copy of Vertical Vegetables
- No purchase necessary.
- Must be 21 years of age or older to enter.
- Open to residents of Canada (excluding Quebec) and the continental United States.
- Entries must be received by December 31, 2018 at 11:59 pm EST.
- One entry per person and/or IP address.
- Two winners will be selected: prize is Vertical Vegetables by Amy Andrychowicz. Retail value is $30US.
- Titles are subject to availability and may vary from those shown.
- The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
- Winner will be selected randomly from eligible entries, notified by email, and have seven days to claim their prize.
- Canadian giveaway winners are required to answer a skill-testing question.
- If potential prize winner forfeits or does not claim the prize, prize will be re-awarded, at Empress of Dirt’s sole discretion.
- All prizes will be awarded.
- Void where prohibited by law.
- To enter, leave a comment (below).
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- Tell us the name of Amy’s new book.
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And, thank you, Amy, for sharing your garden life with us.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛