About the Author
Debra is passionate about helping gardeners learn how to successfully grow their own incredibly delicious organic food year-round from small spaces. She has over 35 years experience in growing organic vegetables in small garden beds. Debra has a degree in organic agriculture, has trained new Master Gardeners about vegetable gardening, and taught organic gardening at a local college. In addition, she's the author of an ebook on Amazon:
The Abundant Mini Garden's Guide to Vertical Vegetable Gardening
Why Debra Is passionate about growing most of Her 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 this food to help control a serious autoimmune disease - psoriatic spondylitis. This disease has attacked and damaged my joints, tendons, and ligaments throughout my body.
Until I started a diet which focuses on eating primarily nutrient-dense whole foods, I was in severe pain 24 hours a day for over 3 years. I was not able to tolerate taking any pain medications, and conventional immune suppressant medications did not help.
Vegetables now make up nearly 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 (up to 12 servings a day of fruits and vegetables), so my sister and I decided to grow much 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 have 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 and row cover. 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 hardiness zone 6 climate.
My sister, Brenda, handles most of the labor involved, while I plan the garden and help when I can. This website, my courses, and our garden would not be possible without my sister's assistance.