For almost two decades, Cheryl Baxter and her son, Bill, have been cultivating a bond as deep as the roots in their thriving home garden. Seventeen years ago, they began the journey that now provides them with fresh produce and a profound understanding of life’s simple pleasures. “It started small. Gradually, our understanding grew, just like our garden,” says Cheryl.
Their flourishing garden bursts with the color and flavor of herbs like dill, sage, lovage, basil, oregano, parsley and cilantro, alongside an assortment of vegetables such as onions, spinach, lettuce and tomatoes. Every year, their garden evolves, and their knowledge deepens.
Compost and companion planting are fundamental to their garden. They dedicate around two hours a day as needed, tending to their vibrant paradise, their routine guided by the ebb and flow of the natural world. Their practice is characterized by their philosophy of ‘weeding as they pick’ and watering at night, carefully adapting to nature’s tempo.
“Starting your garden is like planting a seed of tranquility. It’s calming and gets the day started
right. It stirs creativity, especially in the kitchen.”
— Cheryl Baxter
When challenges like a grasshopper invasion struck, they were undeterred. Their garden is a testament to their resilience and sustainable practices. They compost vegetable waste and eggshells, save seeds and promote local biodiversity. The family dog Marco even plays a role, keeping the deer at bay, while a neighboring farm acts as a natural deterrent to pests and a place to get fertile topsoil that manure has been added to.
The garden is not just about producing food; it has become a space for building relationships and fostering an appreciation for nature’s bounty. Cheryl’s grandchildren enjoy picking fresh produce while friends drop by for vegetable swaps. The garden even inspired a friend to start their farm.
“Starting your garden is like planting a seed of tranquility,” Cheryl muses. “It’s calming and gets the day started right. It stirs creativity, especially in the kitchen.” The garden has also enhanced their mental well-being and encouraged them to create in the kitchen.
Cheryl and Bill advise aspiring gardeners to start with simplicity and love. “Grow things that make you smile,” says Bill. For him, the garden is a sanctuary, a dojo where patience, perseverance and dedication bloom into gratifying rewards. “Get out there and get in the garden,” Bill encourages. “The reward is so worth the work.” He wakes up every day and checks the beach conditions as he snacks on Sun Gold cherry tomatoes.
Some triumphs make their journey worthwhile. Cheryl speaks fondly of their horseradish venture, and the year they harvested the most beautiful jalapeno seeds that they continued to plant for the last six years, saving seeds to grow every year. “We planted peas as a family, and the success was just unbelievable,” Cheryl recalls, a note of pride in her voice.
This beautiful garden brings together three generations, and together they pickle, freeze and create sauces and relishes, and even make jam from their yield. Preserving their harvest ensures they savor their hard work all year round.
As Cheryl and Bill continue their gardening journey, they remain committed to nurturing their home, relationships and community. Their garden is a testament to their love for each other, nature and the simple, profound joy of creating something together. In the Baxter family, gardening is more than a hobby; it’s a way of life, an expression of love and a legacy for future generations.