GETTING TO KNOW
As you enter our garden from the parking lot side, you’ll see Lu’s plots immediately on the right. And if you happen to see Lu working there, take a few minutes to say hello and get to know her. She is a long time gardener and a great resource for her fellow gardeners.
Lu grew up in SW Michigan. When she was 12 her family moved to a small 20 acre farm where they grew vegetables, grapes, and berries and had goats and chickens. She still owns 14 of the 20 acres and the house and barns.
Lu attended Michigan State and earned her degree in veterinary medicine. As an undergrad she took classes in horticulture for her “backup major”.
She has been at UCI since 1987 working mostly as a lab manager in Physiology and Biophysics and lives with her family in University Hills.
What is your background, and how did you learn so much about gardening? Can you share a bit about your journey as a gardener?
Gardening helped me get an education. I spent many hours growing up out in fields and in packing sheds. I saved money each summer from tomato picking and it helped pay for college at Michigan State. Mom and I grew chrysanthemum plants and saved this money for college too. I am happy there is renewed interest in many things I experienced as a young person that I did not think were “cool” at the time!
What prompted your interest in becoming a member of AVCG? How would you describe your experiences here?
I just love being in dirt and saw the garden walking around here pre-internet at the original site-the current space is the third garden site. I have seen people and places change since I started with AVCG and also the increased interest in having a plot. Used to be we had empty plots and little interest so I took two plots to help keep the garden cared for well. The operations have changed as we were much less formal and would just get together a few times a year to clean up. I was an officer when we moved to this site and that was about the time the demand went way up for plots. I always tell people that the best thing that has grown for me at AVCG is friendship. So as time and life march on, this is what I value the most.
Do you have any favorite plants? What have you planted this season?
I am enjoying more now to think about the bees and butterflies and I am going to keep planting more of the garden for my animal friends (hopefully not the “naughty” animals). Kale is a good plant and lately in late summer I am planting cover crops during the hot time until fall. I plant mostly vegetables and some herbs. Growing lots of different plants is a good strategy-some things thrive and some don’t survive. Some years a type of plant works and the next time not. The climate is definitely altered so seems to me we need to be more observant than ever before.
In your opinion, what would you say is the biggest problem faced by most gardeners? What advice can you offer on how to solve that problem?
Most new gardeners don’t understand starting out how much time it takes and that you have to be consistent. Plants are living things. If you can’t make it out several times a week on 2-3 days, things don’t tend to do well. Some people have too high expectations and get frustrated, but I have learned to be pretty relaxed about trying things out here. Sharing a plot is good for busy people to keep up with care.
What gardening resources would you recommend to our members?
Talk to the master gardeners and other people in the garden for pointers. We are lucky to have so many in the garden. Also the integrated pest management from UC Davis. I go to Orange County Farm Supply for garden stuff- they give a small discount if you say that you are in AVCG. I buy seeds at Peaceful Valley and Territorial Seeds but buy most of them at feed store in bulk in Michigan when I go back. You can Google everything anyway these days.
Lu’s helpful links: