BY SHANNON HATHAWAY – When I say I was born to work in horticulture, what I mean is that my family roots reach deep into the earth.
Early Lessons on the Farm
Farming, soil enrichment, herb gardening, pasture grass care, veggie gardening, and canning the harvest were critical to my family’s survival. My hands are calloused, there is usually soil underneath my short fingernails, my skin is weathered, and the smile lines on my face come from loving what I do!
My great-grandfather was a dairy farmer, his daughter (my Gram) married a dairy farmer, and my father grew up on the farm. I was born on that farm in rural Massachusetts that covered 300 acres and my grandfather kept a herd of 35 dairy cows, 15 beef cattle, 4 pigs, 30 chickens, 4 goats, and 15 turkeys. There were always a couple of farm dogs and several barn cats. Gram kept a massive vegetable garden. My earliest memories include walking down rows of veggies that towered over my little head and reaching under the hens to pull out warm eggs for breakfast, with a Great Pyrenees at my heels.
When I was 7, my parents bought a historic home and began the lifelong process of restoring it. My mother had a formal herb garden installed, and there were apple trees and a vegetable garden too. I helped with the weeding and the harvesting and always kept a salt shaker in my back pocket when the tomatoes were ripe. Nothing beats a freshly picked tomato, still hot from the sun, eaten like an apple, with salt.
Lifestyle Choices as an Adult
When I bought my first house, the garden was my pride and joy, and it was featured in two local garden tours. I’ve worked in horticulture in NC for over 25 years. In 2019, I purchased the grandmother’s house and a bit of land from a larger Chatham County farm, and moved my parents in with me. My mother passed in 2020, but my father is still with me, giving advice, and making excellent tomato sauce from the garden. I built a vegetable garden that is larger than the house! I grow tomatoes (of course), very hot peppers, hops, greens, onions, potatoes, radishes, beets, turnips, carrots, green beans, Malabar spinach, culinary and medicinal herbs, grapes, peaches, persimmons, figs, blueberries, and lots of pollinator plants. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. My mother and my grandmother taught me how to preserve fruits and vegetables, and I make lots of pickled things, sauces, and sweet jams.
My eldest son has a thriving vegetable garden, both of my sons use my hops to dry-hop beer, and my grandsons love to help in the garden, especially when the blueberries are ripe for picking! I send them home dirty and tired, and their bellies are full of good, organic produce.
While I have no farm animals, I do have two dogs, 4 house cats, and 3 garden cats who live in a fancy she-shed and keep the rodents out of the vegetables.
So what does any of this have to do with sod? With a garden this extensive, I don’t have time to spend babying a high-maintenance lawn, so I installed Zenith Zoysia and I love it! It is drought tolerant, chokes out weeds very well, and grows at a moderate speed – quite sustainable! And sod, like all plants, thrives in nutritious soil. I compost, amend my soil, and nurture my sod just as I do my veggies.
My Passion Led to A Lifelong Career
I was the Installation Manager at Super-Sod for 8 years, and have written several articles and given classes on sod installation, care, and maintenance. My passion for plants drives my interest in educating clients on the right grass for them, and proper care once their sod is installed. I love making our world a greener, more sustainable place, and I am excited about working with Peak Sodding!
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