Monday, September 5, 2011

Artisans in our Backyard: Becky Maglich is a Gardener extraordinaire.

Becky with her basket: ready for the harvest.
Last Friday morning I had the unique pleasure of visiting Becky Maglich in her garden. Becky and her family live a few blocks away from us. They were the couple with whom we did our premarital counseling, and her husband Jeff officiated our wedding. I wanted to do a segment on gardening because I feel it takes a lot of imagination to garden and it also brings creative fulfillment to many people, especially in the way that you get to see the fruits of your labors and enjoy them. Unfortunately, our small garden consists merely of four tomato plants in a bucket right now, and they are just starting to produce since groundhogs mowed them down all summer. I needed to call in a ringer; someone with a true green thumb and a joy of gardening. That person was Becky.

More about the beautiful Maglich garden after the jump!

The back of the garden where there is a mix of flowers, fruits, and beans.
Becky has been a gardener for as long as I’ve known her. She has a degree in outdoor education and has home schooled all her kids. I asked if that educational background set the stage for her gardening prowess. She admitted that yes, she had started making flower gardens while she was still in high school, and her degree was all about enjoying the land and what it produces. After college she worked at a pioneer camp where they dressed in pioneer clothes and practiced pioneer living. They taught campers to bake their own bread, forage for berries, build traps, and even how to fry up Queen Anne’s Lace fritters.

Becky educates me on the different varietals in the garden.
 Now, years later, Becky’s enthusiasm for living off the land is still contagious. On the way out to pick some tomatoes, she remarks, “I almost feel like a kid. I’ll say ‘Look! Look what we got out of the garden today!” She gleefully picks a small orange tomato and pops it in her mouth. “I would love to serve these to my family, but they just don’t make it in the house!” she laughs. Her favorite thing about the garden is taking it home and sharing it, though. “There’s nothing like it when you’re serving things up for your family that’s just picked, you know it’s not shelf-ripened, it’s ripened on the vine so it’s full of good stuff and it tastes so wonderful.”

"Look at that! I've never tried a cantaloupe before."

The vegetable garden has a lot of variety. There are beans that grow along the front perimeter and then a whole jungle of all kinds of tomatoes. Towards the back there are squash, watermelon, and more beans. Becky spies a large fruit at the back of the lot and holds up a cantaloupe triumphantly. “Look at that! A big fruit! Not just a little fruit. I’ve never tried cantaloupe before.” 

Harvesting tomatoes through the protective netting.
Even though she’s been gardening for years, she is always learning new things. This is the first planting of their garden here, since they just moved to a new house early this year. They wanted to plant a larger garden like they have now but never had the room before, says Becky, and this is a dream finally realized. Since the new house has a lot more land, though, they have had to deal with a new obstacle: critters. The entire garden is surrounded by small wooden posts over which a loose netting is draped. Plants that grew out through the barrier have been unceremoniously chomped off at the ends, most likely by deer. The Magliches also spray an organic Liquid Fence containing garlic and other smells that are offensive to deer.

Marigolds in the flower garden.
A few Marigolds are planted here and there in the vegetable garden which Becky informs me are also protection from animals. “The deer don’t like anything that smells strong or has texture. The marigolds also beautify the garden.” A large flower garden is planted up near the house, but there is also a clump planted in the back of the veggie garden specifically for the purpose of being cut and put into vases. “That way the flower garden stays full and beautiful. And I get to reap a harvest of beauty as well.” Becky adamantly considers planting flowers to be just as beneficial as planting fruits and vegetables. “I believe flowers provide beauty and beauty is just as needed to feed your soul. I love my flower garden because it beautifies. Especially in a time and place when the economy is bad and [things in the world are] depressing, looking at a beautiful bed of flowers just does something to you."

Artisans in our Backyard is a series that focuses on the humble talents of folks in my own little Ohio community. I believe people everywhere, whether or not they consider themselves “artists,” are constantly creating. This series is about local artists and also about those in our community who simply live creatively.


  1. can't wait to watch this series develop!

  2. What a SERIES.

    You did a great job of reproducing Becky. This makes my heart sing.