What’s growing in Angela’s garden? Love, for one. “The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.” This quote by Gertrude Jekyll is the best way to sum up her gardening philosophy and motivations. Early memories of her grandparents’ garden planted a love of gardening in Angela. After years of apartment living and tiny yards, Angela and her family moved to Arizona nine years ago and finally built the garden she had always dreamed of, full of vibrant flowers and the fruits and vegetables that fee her family.

Angela shares her extensive organic gardening knowledge through her Growing in the Garden website and Instagram page. Angela is a certified Master Gardener, and she loves sharing what she’s learned through her classes, experiences and fellow gardeners. For novice gardeners, she has even created a step-by-step gardening guide to take some of the guesswork out of gardening for the first time. We asked her to share a few gardening tips with us.

What are some of the most important things to consider when growing fruit trees?

  1. It’s important to make informed choices when you purchase a fruit tree; they are a long-term investment of time, space and resources. Focus on the types of trees that do well in your area, rather than forcing what is more difficult to grow. For example, citrus thrives in Arizona. The low chill hours we receive limit us to certain varieties of apples, pears, plums and peaches. Other varieties of those same fruits do not do well in Arizona.
  1. Plant your trees correctly. Trees are often planted too deeply and this will kill a tree eventually.
  1. Water your trees correctly. Fruit trees (once established) should be watered deeply. Time between waterings will vary depending on the time of year and temperature. Shallow frequent watering results in a shallow root system.
  1. Fruit trees need regular fertilization to produce well; don’t plant them and forget about them except at harvest time. Give your trees what they need to thrive.
  1. Learn how to correctly prune deciduous trees.
  1. Don’t be quick to reach for harmful chemicals. There are great organic options such as neem oil for treating and preventing problems. Healthy trees are less susceptible to pests and other diseases. Organically grown fruit is possible; this is why we grow our own!

As a mother of five, what have you found to be the best ways to get kids involved in gardening?

Give children age-appropriate tasks from a young age. Younger children are the most excited about gardening. Make time spent in the garden a positive experience. Pulling carrots is magical when seen through a child’s eyes. As they get older and can help more, trust them! If it is not done exactly as you would have done it, that’s ok! They can learn alongside you.

Pay attention to the differences in kids; some like to get their hands dirty, some like using tools, others may love flowers. Nurture what they love about the garden and it will grow. Let children be a part of the planning process, helping to choose where and what to plant. If possible, give them their own space so they have ownership of the process and can see the results.

What is the most unique or fascinating plant you grow in your garden?

In Arizona we can garden year-round. You come to appreciate what can tolerate and even thrive in our hot summers. Armenian cucumbers amaze me. They love the heat and produce basketfuls from a few plants. And I recently added a Kaffir Lime and an Australian Finger Lime to my assortment of citrus trees.

What is one thing you will never garden without, and one thing you’ll never allow in your garden?

I love to garden with my headphones on, listening to my favorite audiobooks and gardening podcasts.  I don’t like pesticides in my garden. I’d rather pull an infected plant that can’t be saved than use pesticides on what I am feeding my family. I focus on feeding the soil; healthy soil = healthy plants = less bugs.