Nursery owner

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner.

I have a very dear older friend whom I love visiting with. She is in her mid 90s and loves gardening, although her physical health has pretty much brought a halt to that. Even though she can’t do the physical part of gardening she can still “talk” gardening for hours. I love hearing all her stories about how her and her mother grew all their own food way back in the 1920s and with very little money.

She has told me that back then they didn’t have anything called fertilizer. Natural products like manures, old milk, eggshells, decayed vegetables and dead animals blood, were their fertilizers. Since money was so scarce and she came from a large family, her mother taught her to never waste anything that came from God. She never questioned what exactly these additives were doing for their gardens, but believed that God provided it to help feed their family. Organic gardening was the only way she ever knew to grow food. Almost 100 years later and many of these natural things her mother taught her are still used today to produce healthy plants of all types.

Many natural products used way back in the twenties to feed the soil, are most likely still available today in most kitchens. Take milk for example, milk is a great source of calcium, in addition to vitamin B, sugars and good proteins. All forms of milk, evaporated, fresh or outdated milk, and even powdered milk can improve the overall health of plants.

Ground up eggshells are loaded with calcium plus some nitrogen and trace elements. Even today sprinkling eggshells on your garden will help to promote stronger, healthier plants. Fresh coffee grounds have been used in gardens for many years and are still being used to help improve drainage issues, to help increase acidity levels in the soil and as additions to compost piles.

My friend also remembers her mother mixing vinegar with water and pouring it all over the soil where vegetables grew to keep pests away. Today some gardeners will use only a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a gallon of water to ward off pests, to increase flowering and to increase vegetable or fruit productions.

Until next time, let’s try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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