Paying Your Gardening Skills Forward

comments (12) May 14th, 2010

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yourownvictorygarden Greg Holdsworth, contributor
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The site
The inspection begins.
Frame built... ready for soil.
Supplies, and inspectors.
The finished bed, ready for planting.
Dons quality control division.
The garden crew.
Click To Enlarge Photo: All photos: Greg Holdsworth

I had the opportunity in April to not only share my love of gardening, but also help in a very serious cause for someone I've never met.

Ronald, a long-time friend of Lisa, a friend of mine, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme Grade IV in January. GBM is the most aggressive of all brain cancers.

To help raise money for Ronald's extensive and continual medical bills, Lisa spearheaded a fundraiser at a local pub/restaurant. This was done through donations, raffles and a silent auction.

What does this have to do with veggie gardening, you might be asking? Hang on, I'm getting to that.

Lisa asked me if I could donate something to this cause through the silent auction. I wondered for a while what I could come with. It had to be something I enjoyed doing, but didn't take an excessive amount of time.

Then it came to me. Donate a "starter garden"! I would provide the materials and labor to build a 5x5-foot raised bed garden in the yard of the highest bidder. This included the raised bed frame & hardware, soil, soil amendments, stakes, and cages (you just know they had to grow tomatoes!). The only cost to the winner was buying what they wanted to have in the garden; either transplants or seeds, or some combination thereof.

This "green thumb package" also included a one-day consultation to help the winner get off to a great start with their new Victory Garden. Much of this time would be during the building of the raised bed, but was also available if the winner wanted my assistance in choosing the right seeds or plants to put in this time of year.

I was happy to see that the starter garden got a few bids at the auction. What was really gratifying was hearing a couple of "wow, that's a neat idea..." comments from passers-by. By the time the dust had settled at the close of the auction, a winner was declared. Don, who lived in a nearby town, was getting the dirt, so to speak.

So, off I went on a beautiful Saturday morning to fulfill my mission. I felt like a plumber on a service call. Instead of PVC pipes, electric auger, and welding torch, I was armed with a power drill, sod shovel, and cultivator.

Don assisted me with clearing the area for the raised bed. Then the bed's frame went up. I pre-drilled the screw holes the afternoon before, which definitely saved time.

Time to get the soil and plants. His car could hold way more bags than mine, so off we went to the local home center. An hour and a lunch break later, we had what we needed and headed home.

Got all the soil mixed in, added the organic amendments, and then positioned the transplants into their future homes. Planted a few seeds, pounded in the tomato cages,  then watered it in. We wiped the sweat from our foreheads, raised our glasses in dedication—this Victory Garden was underway my friends!

The moral of the story? If you get the chance, pay your gardening love and talent forward by helping a family member, friend, or, in this case a complete stranger start a garden. I feel there are so many people who would love to start a garden, but don't know where to begin. The appreciation they will give you will not compare to the joy they will discover in their new-found pastime.

But the mission isn't complete my dirty-nailed friends. One task and wish remains. You see, I hold the first harvested handful of tomatoes of the season very sacred. I would like Ronald and his family to be the first to enjoy my home-grown tomatoes. I think about what few complaints I have while in the garden. A sunburn, mosquito bite, or aching back? These seem minor compared to fighting for your life.

Enjoy the photos taken of the "Win a Starter Garden" mission. BTW, Don's dogs (A.K.A. the quality control division) approved of our work.


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posted in: raised bed, victory garden, donation

Comments (12)

Downsizing writes: Thanks for sharing, Greg ... heartwarming indeed! (typed heartwOrming & that reminds me to post my mini worm farm, just to take sort out the photo. Corinne
Posted: 1:12 am on June 13th
mrgardenboy writes: good idea mine is just like this But It is full of different herbs
Posted: 10:02 am on July 7th
SunbonnetSusan writes: YOVG--Have you had success with 2/3 compost-manure, 1/3 soil mixture? The sugar and nitrogen grinds is to facilitate decomposition. Could you tell us the purpose of the salt?
Posted: 4:49 pm on May 27th
yourownvictorygarden writes: onyourmark: From the back to the front - tomato plants, pepper plants, bush cucumbers, and beans (seeds).
Posted: 1:59 pm on May 27th
onyourmark writes: I love it! What exactly did you plant in this garden other than tomatoes? I can't quite see the plant markers... :)
Posted: 9:46 pm on May 26th
romesticity writes: this is a spectacular idea, thank you for sharing! i've been looking for something i could offer for a silent auction for flood relief here in nashville, this is perfect.
Posted: 1:44 pm on May 19th
roz writes: Greg, you are a garden angel! This is a brilliant idea...one to help a friend and make a new one! This idea is one to share.
Posted: 7:01 am on May 18th
yourownvictorygarden writes: hometopo: For the 5x5-foot bed, we used about 4 bags of compost, 3 bags of manure, 4 bags of regular garden soil, 1 small bail of peat moss, and finally smaller amounts of molasses, coffee grounds and Epsom salt. The bags were the 2.x cubic feet or 50-pound size. We had an extra bag of compost and peat moss left over, which was good because the soil in the bed would settle in a couple of months and need to be 'topped off'.
Posted: 8:57 am on May 17th
knitserland writes: What a brilliant idea! My local garden club raffles off items a few times each year and they are always looking for donations. I think I'll offer this up at the next event. Thanks for sharing.
Posted: 10:20 am on May 16th
hometopo writes: As others have said, this is a great idea, such a simple idea I doubt I would have ever thought of.

On a different note, I am curious, I am starting up my first raised garden. I see in the one picture a few different bags you filled it in with. Can you give a bit more detail on what you had used to fill the raised garden with?
Posted: 3:17 pm on May 14th
sbreckenridge writes: Great idea!
Posted: 8:57 am on May 14th
Ruth writes: Greg, fantastic idea and a great post. I hope your idea catches on.
Posted: 8:52 am on May 14th
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