Modern Gardener is excited to feature local home gardener, Cynthia Stringham of Melon Monologues! Cynthia lives in Holladay, Utah, where she has grown prize-winning melons and transformed her yard into a blooming edible garden. Read on to learn more about this Utah gardener!
How did you become such an amazing gardener?
My summers as a child were spent eating peas and staining my finger with raspberries in my parent's garden. At least once a week, we all worked as a family in the garden. Each person was assigned a task of either working the irrigation, weeding, or (the job I hated), burying apples in giant trenches for composting. These moments are ingrained in me and continued through my adolescence and young adulthood.
This love of gardening always stuck with me, and anywhere I lived during college and beyond I always created a garden. I did and continue to take courses from the Master Gardener program offered at USU, but also find a good trial and error is the best way to learn.
Cynthia with her Rosetta Award-winning water and honeydew melons
What is your proudest garden moment?
More as a novelty, my proudest moment was winning the Rosetta Ribbon at the Utah State Fair for largest produce, including a 13.5 lbs honeydew, 72 lbs watermelon, and a 9 lbs cabbage. I didn't know there was a Rosetta Ribbon. All I wanted to be satisfied was a blue ribbon. My kids; however, love the purple Rosetta, and take great pride in the win. Ha!
That said, my true proudest moments are watching my four boy's understanding grow of the importance of gardening, and the pride they have when we eat something from our yard. They are quick to identify "bad bugs" vs. "good bugs", and whenever they find a worm they bury it right next to a plant in need.
Cynthia's four boys enjoying their home garden!
Why did you start vermicomposting and what do you love about it? Hate about it?
I'm quite new to vermicomposting but have found it not only fascinating but rewarding. We purchased our first bag of red wigglers worms (the giants in vermicomposting) this February. At first, I was a bit timid. After a ton of research, we decided to divide our worms into three different boxes to create a safety net if a box fails and the worms die. All three boxes are still thriving!
Honestly, this is my new favorite way of composting garden scraps. Compost is a huge part of our garden in creating fabulous soil, but I always struggled with composting boxes or bins. I'm more of a "bury it in the ground at the end of the season" composter (I learned that thanks to those rotten apples as a kid!). However, vermicomposting is so easy! Plus, who doesn't want la creme de creme of compost at the ready! Worm castings hold not only high concentrations of NPK but include all the micronutrients your plants crave as well. It's slow release never burns plants but creates the right composition for tender seedlings.
I haven't found anything I hate about the worms yet! They work hard, they don't smell (if you do it right), and they give back black gold in exchange for kitchen/garden scraps.
Cynthia's home in Holladay, Utah.
What is something you've recently learned and wish everyone knew?
Vermicomposting! It's is my new favorite. It's easy, doesn't take up a ton of space, and the benefits are so worth it. Plus, all kids think you're super cool if you have worms for pets.
What do you love most about your garden?
I always loved playing outside and observing nature as a kid. Now, as an adult, I realize the value that came during the time in my parents' garden. I love reliving childhood with my boys while showing them how food grows. It makes those hard garden days worth it.
Cynthia with her prize-winning melons.
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