Bountiful. Enchanting. Inviting. These words and more come to mind when visiting Beth Myers’s well-tended garden.
Beth found her personal oasis just a few years ago when searching for a quiet place to retire and pursue her love of gardening. On the morning of her birthday, she saw this property online and marveled at its robust gardens. That same evening she was standing in its driveway with the agent making an offer to purchase this home tucked away in Farmington’s forested hills. What a birthday gift!
Whatever was in the gardens before has flourished under her knowledgeable and creative touch. The landscape features a small greenhouse and a charming garden. But the real charm lies in the winding paths of vegetable and perennial beds bursting with hundreds of different trees, shrubs, and plants.
On the day of our tour, the lushness of the garden was enhanced by a particularly enthusiastic burst of rain. While the showers delayed the tour a bit, our gathering of seasoned gardeners remained undaunted. We waited out the rain and chatted while enjoying tasty refreshments furnished by our hosts.
Once the rain subsided, Beth began the tour by describing the garden she recently installed following the Square Foot Garden method of intensive cultivation, which she swears by. Judging from the bounty in these beds, she’s definitely on to something.
Her partner in crime and garden enabler extraordinaire, Dick Bahre, built the beds as well as a delightfully decorative box cart with antique wagon wheels for some added whimsy.
According to their website, “the Square Foot Gardening method saves gardeners time, effort, tools, space and water. Schools across the nation and international humanitarian groups around the world are using the Square Foot Gardening method making inroads against poverty and hunger. The Square Foot Gardening method is estimated to cost 50% less, uses 20% less space, 10% of the water, and only 2% of the work compared to single row gardening. Additional benefits are: virtually no weeds, no digging or rototilling, no fertilizers, and no heavy tools are necessary.”
A number of our members also use this method with great results.
Beth showed us her other traditional vegetable beds where she grows a variety of things including potatoes, asparagus, and an ENORMOUS sunflower!
Beth described her method for growing potatoes, which involves placing her seed potatoes in a shallow hole or depression, which she then covers with fertile soil. Once the potatoes start to sprout and grow, she tops it with more soil. She does this repeatedly until the plants are growing in a small mound. Once the plant tops have wilted and withered, the potatoes are ready. She had on display a bumper crop of some she had already harvested.
She also uses potato grow bags with great results. During our visit, she had a bag growing sweet potatoes (pictured above), which many don’t realize can be grown successfully here in Maine. Just be sure to let them cure after harvesting to achieve the best flavor. If you want to give growing them a try, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOGFA) provides detailed sweet potato growing information.
Beth shared her secret for a bountiful asparagus harvest. She has four beds devoted to this hallmark springtime crop. It does takes patience to grow because because the plant has a four-year maturity cycle from seed to harvest. In addition, she described how important it is to allow the plants to “go to fern” after harvesting to help strengthen the roots. Later in this phase, they produce pretty ball-shaped seeds that she collects or allows them to self-sow for further propagation.
The tour concluded with a walk along the winding paths through her herb and fairytale-like perennial gardens. Just beyond those, off in the distance, lie two vernal ponds that still held water late in the season thanks to the shelter of the deep Maine woods.
We were also treated with a view of many plump, green-striped caterpillars on her parsley plants. These striking but unassuming creatures don’t eat much, and they develop into the stunning swallowtail butterfly. Be sure to plant extra parsley in your garden and maybe you’ll play host to them in your garden as well.
We thank Beth for her generosity in sharing her small slice of paradise with us. What a lovely way to conclude our 2022 summer garden tour series!