Blooming into Summer With Kara's Green Thumb

By Sara Porcaro | June 16, 2020

Every day is a bit warmer, a bit sunnier--and a bit closer to summer. For those with a green thumb, there's no better time than spring to begin planning for their beautiful summer gardens, and already, pots are full of rich soil and seedlings. Kara is one of those avid gardeners, and this year, she's already got her sights on a summer full of refreshing, delicious treats and homemade meals with her future harvest. She's spending this time preparing to grow a new round of vegetables with Site Supervisor Siobhan Catterson-McCaffrey and her housemates!

The lasting era of social distancing we're entering as a community, has been--and continue to be--tough on all of us. The chill of late March and the rainy season in April made it difficult to find things to do outside the house; the overcast skies and looming developments on the news every day likewise made it difficult to stay positive. But that hasn't stopped Kara from making the most of her time these past two and a half months! With Zoom calls to her friends, online tutoring sessions with Brown's Partners for Adult Learning (PAL) program, walks in her neighborhood, and plenty of new recipes to try in the kitchen, she's been having a blast--and this year's garden is yet another exciting thing to look forward to.

"We wanted more fruits and vegetables to have around--like a bowl of cherry tomatoes to have out for a snack," says Siobhan, "so Kara had the idea to start a garden, and we've been doing it since."

In the past few years, Kara has been experimental with what she could grow in the garden. The cherry and beefsteak tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, and bell peppers are classic summer vegetables that she's gotten a knack for over time, and she grows them in her yard from seedlings she buys from the store. But other past projects have included corn, strawberries, and even watermelons--and all the while, Kara learned about the different ways that different crops grow. Watermelons and strawberries, for instance, take up large patches of soil, making them a bit harder to grow alongside her other favorite crops.

"I really like to make pasta salad and other dishes with the food I grow," Kara says. "It's cool to have fresh vegetables to cook with instead of buying them from the store, and the cherry tomatoes are my favorite."

Already, the crops are flourishing under Kara's care. She put her effort into helping transport the forty-pound bags of topsoil, as well as spreading that topsoil and manure to make tidy beds for this year's seedlings. A typical year will bring the bulk of the harvests in beginning of July, where the bright red tomatoes make a beautiful (and tasty) centerpiece, and the many other vegetables become delicious ingredients for all the many dishes Kara likes to make. With the pandemic, Kara's been more focused on the home than ever, as she already enjoys helping out around the house and keeping the yard pristine for herself and everyone else. Others have been occasionally joining in her gardening fun as well, helping Kara to weed or water the plants.

"[Kara] really enjoys keeping the garden every year," Siobhan says. "She makes sure it gets cared for and watered daily, and is pretty responsible with it, which makes it even more fun!"

Summer is around the corner, and the bursts of green out in the backyard only grow stronger every day, tall and proud under Kara's watch. She's looking forward to the first harvest, and all the days of fresh food to follow this season. Home grown produce always tastes delicious, not only because it's fresh off the vine, but because one knows the amount of love and work that went into helping these plants grow--and we know that Kara, along with friends like Siobhan and her other housemates, are certainly pouring their best efforts into this great summertime hobby!