Hi! I'm Debra, and this is my sister, Brenda.
This website, my courses, and our garden would not be possible
without my sister's assistance. Read more below to learn why
I'm passionate about growing most of my own vegetables.
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My name is Debra Graff, and I have been growing my own organic vegetables in small garden beds for over 30 years. I have a degree in organic agriculture, and I’ve been a Master Gardener volunteer. I have trained new Master Gardeners about vegetable gardening, and I have taught organic gardening at a local college. I'm also the author of: The Abundant Mini Garden's Guide to Vertical Vegetable Gardening.
Whether you want to grow most of your own vegetables, like my sister and I do, or just a few of your favorite ones, come join the Abundant Mini Gardens community and discover how you can harvest abundant crops of food twelve months a year by using simple tools, small garden beds, trellises, and unheated cold frames.
Why am I Passionate About Growing
Most of My Own Vegetables?
My sister and I share a home in the mountains of southwest Virginia. Eating nutrient-dense organic food is a critical part of my life, because I use the Paleo diet to help control a serious autoimmune disease – psoriatic spondylitis. This disease has attacked and damaged my joints, tendons, and ligaments throughout my body.
My doctors put me on several strong immune-suppressant medications, but they caused major side-effects without significantly improving my symptoms.
Until I started this diet, which focuses on eating nutrient-dense whole foods, I was in severe pain 24 hours a day for over 3 years because I was not able to tolerate taking any pain medications.
Vegetables now make up over two-thirds of most meals that we eat. We also buy food from local farmers, so about 80% of our meals are produced locally within 50 miles of our home.
Because this diet is essential for helping to control my pain, I take the quality of my food very seriously. Fresh organic food is incredibly expensive and we eat a LOT of it (about 12 servings a day of fruits and vegetables), so my sister and I decided to grow most of the plant food that we eat.
Another benefit of growing our own vegetables is that home-grown food tastes much better than store-bought, and the nutrient levels of freshly harvested plants can be up to twice as high as week-old store produce. That’s very important to me right now, because I’m using my food as medicine.
Because of my disabilities, my sister and I designed a new garden. I can’t work down at ground level, so we created high raised beds with concrete blocks that I can sit on. We’ve got limited level space with full sun, so we garden intensively and we use a lot of trellises.
To extend our garden season, we also use cold frames, row cover, and an unheated hoop house – which is a luxury in our climate, but a real joy to work in. We’ve learned how to plan our garden so that we have fresh food to eat nearly every week of the year, even in our zone 6 climate.
My sister has to do most of the physical work with our garden, while I focus on learning, experimenting, and planning – and sharing my 30 years of gardening experience on this website and in my courses. I’m glad you’ve joined us!