A garden grows
St. Paul people find joy, happiness, challenge, and contentment in nurturing flowers, vegetables, fruit in their own backyards.
Snapping green beans and sugar snap peas
Growing up, Kaitlyn Schnekloth watched – and helped weed – as her mom grew an amazing garden. One of her favorite things to do was to snap green beans fresh from the earth.
Today, Kaitlyn lives on a farm with her husband Hans and baby girl Millie Jane. Her own garden is just steps outside her back door, filled with all sorts of delicious things to eat – raspberries, tomatoes, peppers, sugar snap peas, broccoli. She draws maps to plot out her plan for the year. There’s the map that represents her dream, she said, and then the map that represents reality – once planting is underway. She keeps the maps in her gardening journal, where she also writes down planting dates and other details that will help remind her of the summer’s journey. She also likes to learn about what grows together well – such as tomatoes and marigolds.
Rabbits do not come to visit the Schnekloth garden, she said. Their dogs do visit, one loves peppers and the other is a fan of brussel sprouts.
As the produce ripens, Kaitlyn makes salsa and has taken a try at canning. She loves to make a meal with the veggies she’s grown.
“We give a lot of it away, too,” she said, adding that she particularly enjoys sharing garden bounty with her church friends.
Purple beans and rainbow carrots
As far back as he can remember, Lee Marbach’s family had a garden. He enjoyed helping and picking vegetables.
“I think my dad was always a big part of getting the garden in, but it was a full family activity in the summer,” he said.
Today, gardening brings him great joy – especially educating his kids and having an activity where they can get dirty, learn, and spend time with the family.
“I believe it is my duty to help my kids know where food comes from and that good food can be grown. I always enjoy sharing the abundance from a garden with others. I enjoy seeing the tangible outcomes of working the land. The produce from a garden can’t be beat! Gardening, like weather, is always something that can be used for small talk, too.”
The Marbach garden will be expanding this year. With three trellised main beds that are 20 feet long, they added a 25-foot bed alongside the house, trying a new area this year to see if it will produce despite the shade it gets.
The family’s favorite things to grow are cucumbers and dill because Lee and his wife, Julia, make their own lacto fermented dill pickles. Lee is excited for the hops he planted, and their daughters can hardly wait for their purple beans and rainbow carrots.
“It brings me pride that my kids feel comfortable in the garden and will eat beans, banana peppers, and rhubarb straight from the source. As I reflect back on it, gardening has always been something I enjoy. While at Iowa State, I had containers with heirloom tomatoes and pepper plants on my apartment deck.”
Fingers in the dirt
Deanna Feuerbach loves to pull weeds.
Really. She could sit for hours and care for the beauty around her by making sure the weeds are held at bay.
“It’s my therapy. I always like to have my fingers in the dirt,” she says of the gardens of flowers surrounding her and Leon’s home in north Davenport, as well as the gardens at St. Paul. “I feel like I’m in heaven when I’m in the middle of flowers.”
Deanna’s love for gardening was planted by her mom, who grew and arranged flowers for all of Deanna’s childhood. Since then, Deanna has taken classes from the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach office.
With Leon as chief hole digger (he calls himself the gopher), the Feuerbachs have a gorgeous variety of flowers that surround their home. Roses are her favorite. Shady plants thrive in the front of their home, sunny plants grow best in the back. Sometimes, it’s a matter of trial and error to see what works where. “We’ll plant something and if it doesn’t grow, we don’t plant it there again.”
The Feuerbachs also can be seen around St. Paul, planting and tending to the flowers by the library entrance on the north. They are an important part of the crew that tends to the Memorial Garden.
St. Paul has been a part of their lives for decades – they were married at St. Paul, their children baptized here, Leon said. Sharing their love of gardening is how they show their appreciation for this community of faith.
Lilacs and bunnies
Jennie Barnds’ earliest memory of gardening involves her grandparents.
She writes: “I’m from a rural town in Pennsylvania and my family lived about a quarter of a mile from my grandparents. We had large vegetable gardens on both properties, but my grandparents maintained both of them. We grew enough potatoes to last a year (we ate potatoes probably five or six nights out of the week, so that’s a lot of potatoes) as well as lima beans and string beans, both of which we froze, and tomatoes, which my grandmother canned.
Why does she garden? “So many reasons. I enjoy the physical nature of it and the sense of accomplishment I feel throughout the growing season. It provides a creative outlet when I plan new perennial gardens. I enjoy the solitude of being alone with my thoughts and simply just ‘being,’ which is rare when you are the mother of three young children. More than anything, I think I garden because I feel a sense of contentment and connectedness with my family in Pennsylvania as well as the joy of experiencing God’s beautiful creation.”
What are your plans for your garden this year? “This is the year that I take back my garden from the rabbits. It’s either them or me. I won’t tell you who’s winning right now.”
What is your favorite thing to grow and why? “Flowers! I love old fashioned flowers…lilacs, peonies, lily of the valley. When Kent, Martha, and I relocated to the Quad Cities 11 years ago, I brought along with us a single foot-long lilac start from the bush in our yard. Apparently it loves Iowa soil and it has since grown into a full 10-foot-tall bush. When we moved to a new house almost two years ago, I took two new starts from that bush and transplanted them to our new backyard. That is how I chose the name for my business, Lilac Hill Photography.”