Grow with Honeybee!Sunday, February 28, 2021
“First and foremost, do not give up. Gardening is a learning process filled with trials and errors…so you may lose a plant or two or even three... At the end of the day, it is such a wonderful feeling to grow and to be able to provide for yourself, family, and even friends.”
— Melissa Green, Grow with Honeybee
In Greek mythology, Melissa was the nymph who discovered honey and after whom honey bees were named. Here on The Rock, we have our very own honeybee in gardening aficionado Melissa Green, aka “Grow with Honeybee”. Amongst The Rock's gardening community, @GrowWithHoneybee is best known for her social media “how to's”, creatively packaged vegetable starter kits, gardening accessories, and her ever-growing offering of nutritious edible plants.
Regardless of where you live, gardening is a calling and urban dwellers will no longer allow their gardening pursuits to be curtailed by the spatial limitations of city living. In testimony, Honeybee, an urban dweller who hails directly from her mother and Grandma Rose's fruitful grounds in the garden parish of St Ann, productively converted her limited space to an“eat what you grow” haven.
Melissa recounts, “I was limited... I have no land space in Kingston. However, I decided not to let that deter me and deep-dived into research about container gardening. With dozens of tabs open on my computer, I gathered all the knowledge that I could and started... I documented my journey on my personal Instagram page and then decided to start a YouTube channel so that I could get into more detail of what works for me. I started with things I could regrow from scraps or cuttings, then moved on to seeds. I failed dozens of times but the times in which I was successful really kept me focused. I realised that I was inspiring others to start gardening and started to get a lot of direct messages asking me for guidance. I started giving away extra plants and seedlings... I was getting queries on whether I had things for sale and the idea came to me to make this journey of growth more than a display of my green thumb. I saw where I could guide and help others.”
Against that passion-powered background and soulful calling, it's safe to say that the rest is history.
A day with Honeybee, her understudy and the garden supervisor
As the cock crows at 6:00 am, Honeybee is up and watering. Her early rising raison d'Ítre is to ensure that there's no residual water on plants when they wake and meet the morning sun. This, she advises, can result in plant sunburn damage. Further, “Seedlings like moist soil so I water again in the evening, especially on a hot day. I have to inspect my babies daily for leaf miners, white flies and if there are any signs I do a natural Neem oil treatment spray and repeat based on the severity of damage. Taking care of seedlings is a bit different from just growing mature plants for yourself and I have learned that the hard way. They require daily attention.”
Honeybee's sweetest garden experience is found in her ability to teach her two boys about the beauty and purpose of the tilling of soil. “My nine-year-old helps with repotting seedlings and composting and my gardening supervisor, my two-year-old, oversees all the work being done. I will never forget the look on my supervisor's face when I harvested my first 10 lb pumpkin. He had been monitoring his “ball”, the pumpkin, every morning while it was growing. I was happy to be able to capture him screaming “ball” while giving it a big hug. He guarded this ball for a good three days before I could cut it. The pumpkin was able to be shared with the folks in my little neighbourhood. Another amazing feeling!”
How to hunt out slugs at night
Along with other cool and relevant topics like “Garden Soil v Potting Mix”, “How to Make & Use Neem Oil”, “Strawberry Growing for Beginners” and “How to Make a Vertical Pallet Garden”, Honeybee's Instagram and YouTube fan favourite is “Tips on How to Get Rid of Slugs”. To plant lovers worldwide, the slug is garden public enemy number one, and in light of this Melissa says: “If you see evidence of slugs eating your plants, just stay up late one night, grab your flashlight and start by examining the affected areas. Nine times out of 10 you will see those buggers. What really stood out for me was the suggestions from everyone. From picking them up with chopsticks, using coffee grounds, beet, a pound of salt, ashes from coal, eggshells, slug pellets. It was a fun discussion and to date someone took my advice and went out after 11:00 pm and caught a dozen!”
Vision 2021: “Let's Grow Together”
As happens with all things that start small, the vision becomes much larger than the seed originally planted. Blooming where she's rooted, emboldened to “encourage everyone to grow something, anything… [and for] people to develop a desire to have some sort of sustainability relating to the food they eat”, Melissa's tagline is “Let's Grow Together”.
Her Vision Board 2021-2022 is to:
1. Have a location where people can browse, shop and converse about gardening; and
2. Provide islandwide shipping based on feedback received.
Here's to Growing with Honeybee and a positive Vision 2021. Let's Grow Together!
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