What are the top five vegetables you would recommend growing from seed?
I grow carrots from seed because they don't transplant well. Squash, beans, cucumbers, and peas all germinate easily and grow quite quickly.
Gardening can be hard on the body. How do you protect yourself?
I use plenty of sunscreen and reapply every two hours. Two favorites: EltaMD and Soleil Organique. My pilates teacher, Karin Wandner, gave me a series of exercises to do before and after I garden to help keep my body strong and prevent injuries, such as shoulder bridges or child's pose. I wear long-sleeve T-shirts and have a closetful of vintage Indian wrap skirts to keep my arms and legs protected but still free to move comfortably through the garden.
How do you make a garden functional but still beautiful?
We all have our own interpretation of what beauty is, what it means to us, and how we choose to express it. That is what makes a garden so unique. We can each choose flowers, colors, and crops that please us. A farmer once told me that nature doesn't make bad colors, only people do. I use that to guide me as I experiment with all kinds of flower seeds and try new combinations of color to find what resonates with each client.
Biggest lesson learned?
The garden is a great teacher. Some of the lessons I have learned from the garden are: patience, the importance of balance, and an appreciation for letting go of what is out of my control and embracing what I can. With every season, there is so much more to learn. The biggest mistake I made when I first began gardening was not understanding that everything begins and ends with the soil. Without healthy soil, our gardens will not feed or nourish us. We need to care for the soil and the soil will care for us.
I believe in composting. It reduces our waste and puts much-needed nutrients back into the soil. Researchers have found that children who compost learn that they can personally make a difference to the environment -- a great lesson for us all.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to people who lack a green thumb?
Find a sunny patch, start with good, organic soil and enjoy the process, whether things go well or there are troubles. We learn the most from our failures. There is always another season to begin again.