Go Local Week 11- The Little Red Hen

My guest today is Ashley of Mommy Long Legs. We first met while teaching at the same school. We were also pregnant together! Ashely describes herself as the worlds tallest Little Red Hen. As an English teacher Ashley was always coming up with the most creative assignments for her students. Spurred by her super long legs and a serious lack of long legged maternity clothes she just went ahead and founded her own company! You see when we worked together we turned heads walking our pregnant bellies down the hall. As if the bellies weren't enough she's 6ft tall. I'm 5 ft tall. You get the picture. But that's not why we're here! This year Ashley and her husband planted their first garden, and she's here to tell about it. Please welcome Ashley! (Go visit her website and tell all your tall friends where to get long legged maternity clothes!)

This year we planted our first garden. Since I have typically been known as the Botanical Grim Reaper, I knew this was going to be a challenge. It didn’t help that we were discouraged by many Align Centerof our friends.
“It’s hard work.”
“It’s not worth it.”
“Your space is too big for beginners.”

When we landscaped our yard last summer, my husband had the foresight to leave a chunk of land 16x16 in a raised bed with drip line access.But, it was looking more and more like our nice plot of fresh earth would soon be paved over and adorned with a hot tub.

But I grew up with farm fresh veggies. My grandparents had a farm. I have many memories of summer days spent canning beans, beats and corn. I was determined to give my children the same memories I had growing up even though we are now “city folk.” I have also been inspired every year by Heather and her Go Local Battle Cry.

So, this was my first official garden...the one I owned, tended and harvested.

I learned quite a bit about gardening. But I’m more surprised at what I learned about myself and my family.
1. Babies can eat a lot of dirt when you turn your back to tackle the weeds. Surprisingly, they are just fine! (The kids...not the weeds)

2. I found myself hiding in the corn stalks while stuffing my face with fresh garden peas so as not to have to share with my children. I wonder if there is an AA group for this....“Hi. My name is Ashley and I was thrilled to discovered my children didn’t like peas so I could eat them all.” (But by “All” I mean the 8 pods that actually grew in my garden...so I don’t really have a problem...Right?!?)

3. Its good to have friends with bigger and better gardens. They come in handy for advice, borrowing tools and...veggie raids when your own garden fails to produce. (Special shout out to Rhonda, Heather, and Farmer Dave)4. Gardening is not as hard as everyone tells you it is going to be. Its really quite easy and incredibly therapeutic.

5. Speaking of therapy...We considered our garden a success before we ever had anything planted. If our marriage could survive an entire day of shoveling manure, without someone getting a sharp metal object to the backside, then we could survive anything.6. I’m a perfectionist. It was completely liberating to plant a garden, tend to it and then sit back and just see what happens. I was able to let go of the control to which I so desperately cling and just enjoy this little earthly experiment. I need to do this more with mothering my 2 young children.
7. I kept my gardening manual Close, but my Grandmother closer. My 84 year old grandmother lives nearby so she was available to oversee the planting, harvesting and preserving. After 50 years of managing her own gardens, I consider her the expert in gardening. Of course, she also waited for us to leave town, so she could go back and replant everything we did wrong. She wasn’t about to criticize, but she also wasn’t about to go a summer without fresh corn. Thanks Patsy.8. I cooked a dinner of stuffed zucchini (with tomatoes, basil, onions, & zucchini from the garden) with a side of cucumber tomato salad (also from our garden.) My husband...called me AWESOME. It felt AWESOME.

9. Cucumbers are more prolific than bunnies. Why didn’t someone warn me of this before I planted an entire row. I’m not ready to delve into pickling them, so we just eat them everyday, every meal, and beg our neighbors to take more.

10. Weeds are also incredibly prolific. Why can’t Mother Nature make my carrots grow at the same rate?

11. We were not successful in everything we planted. Our little space provided a few fresh veggies (not enough for preservation but enough to cook a decent meal or two). We were/are able to grab beets, corn, onions, cucumbers for a summer meal on the patio. We failed at peas, carrots, potatoes and pumpkins* Perhaps it might have been much more work, had more actually grown. It was a good way to ease into it.

12. Gardening is addictive. I’m accepting defeat with the carrots and tomatoes because I’m already thinking about what I’ll do differently next year. I can hardly wait!

In the end, I’ve learned a garden isn’t just about GROWTH. It’s about transformation. The real growth happened within. This summer, with a little work, a lot of luck, and my grandmother lurking about, we were able to take a tiny seed to a tall stalk and a city girl to dirt lover. In the beginning, I wasn’t originally sold on owning/maintaining a garden. But since tending to one, I’ve seen a change in me. I’m willing to take a chance, experiment, and shrug off failure more than I ever have before.

As for next year, my husband is still ready to put in a pool, But, I can’t wait to try...try again. I’ll put a little more calcium in for my tomatoes. A little softer earth for my carrots, and a little less heat for my peas. And then.....see what happens.

A disclaimer about pumpkins:
*Parents: Don’t get your kids all jacked up about growing pumpkins until you actually have them growing. Because kids will check every day for a giant pumpkin. And when they don’t appear, there is a lot of explaining that has to take place. We are lucky enough that dad the pumpkin fairy will arrive in October and buy grow a pumpkin that will magically appear overnight.
Are you reveling in the bounty? August and September are the best months for produce, so eat up!! And then post about it because even if you think your friends are sick of hearing about local food they are not. When we talk about eating local it makes a difference, so keep talking people. Share a photo, a word or two about dinner your favorite vendor at the market, etc.

Go Local!!!


  1. Such an inspirational post from Ashley, and just what I needed to read. I'm thinking about/planning a "salsa garden" for next Spring - now I'm even more psyched! There really is nothing like the feeling of growing and eating your own veggies.

  2. Another amazing guest blogger post!  Thanks Ashley!  I can't wait for the day that we have a little plot of dirt for our own gardening.  Our local bounty has been fun at our house this week with tasty dessert, green bean casserole from scratch, and local hydrangeas.

  3. Zucchini stirfry, first ripe tomatoes, and raspberry peach jam!



Post a Comment