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The Beginning of Stone Hill Garden and Its Military Ties

Tabatha and Shane head 

shotI grew up in central Pennsylvania where gardening is a family activity. As a child I enjoyed earning a nickel for every potato beetle that I picked from the plants. My favorite part was enjoying the delicious ripe veggies as soon as I picked them and managed to wipe them clean on my shirt.

Tabatha had some exposure to gardening as well when she was a child. She also had some experiences with goats and chickens. Tabatha has always had a ‘green thumb’ and enjoys maintaining indoor plants as well as growing food in the garden.

Now we are all grown up with a family of our own. We started a small kitchen herb garden in 2007 and then decided to establish a potted garden on the patio of the house we were renting in Yuma, Arizona in 2010.

Yuma potted 

At the time we were both on active duty in the Marine Corps. It can be difficult to start or maintain a garden while someone is in the military. You never know when you could be deployed, sent away for an extended period of time for training or even told that it’s time for you to move to a different base.

In 2010 I volunteered to be relocated to southern California. We continued our gardening practices here in California and we have actually ditched the pots and put some tomato and pepper plants in the ground. I talked about gardening while at work, and this has rubbed off on a few of my fellow Marines who have decided to start a small garden as well.

boys celery 

We have involved our children with the gardening since the beginning. Gardening has been both entertaining and educational for all of us. I asked my oldest son to think of a name for our garden recently and he almost immediately responded with Stone Hill Garden. Both of my sons contribute to the gardening effort and they also enjoy eating the rewards that we have been blessed with.

We have recently moved to a new house and have transplanted veggies from our previous house. We transplanted 3 tomato plants and 4 bell pepper plants. Only the fullest tomato plant survived the transplant and continued to produce beautiful red fruit for us. 

Tomatoes 

The pepper plants did much better and we only lost 1 of them after the move. 

Bell Peppers 

My wife and I have been mentally planning out our gardening plots for the house that we have moved into. We have agreed to do more reading and be prepared to plant in the spring instead of just putting some seeds in the dirt on a random day of our choice.

I look forward to sharing my experiences with the GRIT community. Hopefully I can inspire some of the other military families to at least try a small potted garden of their favorite herbs and veggies that they can be proud of and share the rewards with their family or friends.

nebraska dave
1/11/2012 2:27:05 PM

I suspect this is Shane. Thanks for clearing up the name thing. I had wondered about that because her comments appeared to be from the blog owner but the name didn't match. LED lights are becoming the new generation of lighting. They use an incredibly small amount of electricity but give out quite a bit of light. Have a great day.


tabatha&shane
1/11/2012 8:34:55 AM

Tabatha's screen name is Samantha Holden, just to clean things up. As she stated, we appreciate your comments and support. We are continuously shifting toward self sufficiency and share our experiences with others. We recently ordered some solar kits that include the panel, controller with battery, and two 12 volt LED lights. These will become our indoor lighting for our living room and bedrooms in the evening. These kits are also small enough for us to pack up when it's time for us to move again. They are supposed to arrive in two days, and we are anxiously waiting for them!


samantha holden
1/2/2012 6:39:17 AM

Thank you for the welcoming. You can have a rotating garden here as long as you dress your soil. We rotate plants, mulch, and compost religiously. We also recently put up a greenhouse type structure to protect from the random frost. What we cannot grow outside we do in pots indoors; but only what I use regularly. We love watching our food grow and our boys love sneaking out and eating the fruits from the garden before bringing me back some for our table. Our boys are getting bigger and our daughter is now old enough to poke a hole with her little finger and drop a seed in. She is catching on and showing an interest just like our boys had. Now that we are almost settled in and planning our spring garden layout we also need to remember to plant enough since most of our carrots and tomatoes did not make it out of the garden. My boys loved sneaking out and pulling them just to make a dash to the hose for a rinse so they could gobble down as much as they could before they were caught. It didn't take long since you can smell freshly pulled carrots a mile away. I hope our blog inspires everyone to try something new and hopefully we will learn something new from the comments you leave us.


chuck mallory
12/31/2011 11:10:50 PM

Welcome to the Grit blogging family! I enjoyed your column. I always dreamed of living in Southern California and wondered what the growing season was like there for gardening. Someone told me you can grow a garden, let the ground rest for a month, then just start planting again and have 3 full harvests in the same year we northerners only have one growing season. Is that true?


mary carton
12/22/2011 8:54:05 PM

Welcome to GRIT. I had raised beds at my house In Muscle Shoals, AL. My Dad would tell his friends that I had more in my little garden than he did in his big acre garden. Now that I've built back on the farm, I've sort of abandoned raised beds. Right now I keep taking over the garden in daylilies and I've had to move it a couple of times. Once I decide where it'll be I plan to go back to raised beds. Merry Christmas from my hooligans and myself at Rosedale Garden.


cindy murphy
12/22/2011 1:53:50 PM

Tabatha and Shane - kudos to you for involving your children (and such cute ones they are!) in gardening at such a young age. They'll not only reap what the garden grows, but will continue to reap the other benefits long after those peppers and tomatoes have turned back to soil that enriches the earth. Welcome to Grit, and looking forward to hearing more from you both.


nebraska dave
12/21/2011 2:35:48 PM

Tabatha and Shane, welcome to the GRIT blogging community. First of all thank you both for serving in the military to protect our country during these perilous times. I know how it's a sacrifice. I am glad to see that your interest in gardening has become an interest in your children. That could definitely be an advantage for them some time in the future. The size of the garden doesn't matter. It's just growing something and keeping that interest alive that matters. For me it was a 40 year vacation from gardening to raise family and provide for expenses. Since I couldn't get any one in the family interested in gardening, I let it slide until I retired at which time I rekindled the gardening desire. I've been four years and planning for year five into gardening in the .... golden years. It's amazing just how much can come from only five raised beds. Have a great Christmas and a wonderful New Year.