The year was 1975 and I received my first rotor tiller Craftsman 5.5 horse power. I was barely able to see over the handles. Sometimes it would pull me clean across the garden. Little did I know that when I was only 11 years old, it would be the start of a lifelong adventure in gardening.
My parents live in Dubuque County, Iowa. It was a small rural township some 15 houses. It may even be considered a food desert by some standards. The closest supermarket (Eagles Foods) at that time was 10 miles away. All our neighbors raised gardens so it just seemed natural, I guess. My Dad loved to grow huge onions. His secret was wood ashes, and we just dumped them in the garden. No one told us not to. Then came high school, the military, and a career working for Memphis City Schools. I settled down on 2 plus 2 acres and as every new home owner knows they want to be like their parents. So 20 years ago I made a small 20 foot by 20 foot garden and have been growing ever since.
I have probably been associated with at least 100 gardens over the years. About five years ago I started to call myself a Professional Gardener. I found out that I could not use or represent myself as a Master Gardener. I learned that I could not be associated with business dealings. Now I call myself a Dirt Farmer literally speaking. I create really good dirt. I have a worm farm that is going strong. I am just barely able to keep up with the demand for worm castings (dirt). I have a gardening business (“organic” shush, I am not supposed to say that), and a koi fish operation also. They all work together. See, the worms help feed the Koi, the Koi help feed the soil, and the soil feeds the vegetables. I like to call it the circle of life.