Green Thumb Thursday with Mama Yardful

Happy Thursday y'all! Lately I've been thinking about how much I have learned about plants from my mother. She taught me about the joys of growing things from seed, the frustration when your soil is half clay, the superior tastiness of pretty much anything you grow yourself, and how even a sinkhole can be made more beautiful with lilies. I'm very grateful that I'll be able to see her this Mother's Day, and with any luck, we may even be able to do some gardening! So in honor of Mother's Day and all that my mom has taught me, this week's Green Thumb Thursday planterview is with Mama Yardful (because, you know, she has a yard)!

Erica: How do you support your plant habit (what is your day job)?

Mama Yardful: Cyber Security Nerd

In general, what color would you consider your thumb?


Where do you live and what space do you currently have for plants?

Houston, Texas. I have a front yard with flower beds and in the back I have raised beds, plus a patio and AeroGardens in the house.

Mama Yardful's raised garden beds - plants from top to bottom: rosemary, onion, strawberry, oregano

How did you first get into gardening?

Containers first, and then flower beds, then raised veggie garden, and it progressed from there.

Some of Mama Yardful's containers - two thai chili peppers on the left and a tomato on the right

Did you get into gardening when you were growing up, or more as an adult?

Growing up your grandma was a plant fantatic... though she doesn't comprehend herbs at all... in the garden or in food. So I have always been around plants and mom did it to excess, still does.

This is an understatement - my grandmother has always had one of the most amazing backyard gardens I have ever seen. But she did recently pull up my mother's oregano because she thought it was a weed...

What kinds of plants do you currently have in your garden and how did you choose those ones?

Lots of herbs - mostly Italian: oregano, basil, lemon thyme, rosemary, sage, chives, lemon balm, mint, tomatoes, peppers, a fig tree, 2 lime trees, jasmine, banana trees, roses, ferns. I chose what I have based on what I like. My flowers are either pink or smell great - like the jasmine and the roses. The herbs I actually use to cook with in the kitchen. The mint makes great tea or mojitos.

Mama Yardful's impatiens all pretty in pink!

Do you have a favorite dish that you make with ingredients from your garden?

Pesto... raw jalepenos? What else is needed for Italian and tex mex?

And that's basically a summary of what we ate growing up.

What is your favorite plant (either in your garden or in the world)?

I love orchids - they are a pain to grow, but they are still beautiful in their many unique flowers.

I'm personally on my third jointly-owned orchid (Paul and I recently adopted a new one, Orcrist the III, and the ones before him don't count, right? :P). How many orchids would you say you've helped meet the great compost bin in the sky?

Orchids... mmm... greater than 30? The one in my window now is over a year old. The longest I have kept one was about 7 years... it bloomed twice in that time and survived 3 moves... But died due to special circumstances.

So my orchid care-taking abilities are clearly inherited.

What is your favorite gardening tool?

My mother? Probably a bad answer, but mom works in my yard and makes the beds look awesome for me. Besides that the AeroGardens, though I think I have outgrown them.

Outgrown them how? What are you thinking of doing next?

I have two AeroGardens here, support mom's two less than a mile away, but the yields are small due to size. Houston heat restricts outdoor options, and I love the options it offers, but I want more! Thinking larger, maybe try aquaponics to make it self sustained.

Have you done any garden-related DIY projects or are there any on your to-do list?

My patio garden is all self watering as I designed a self-watering system. Considered building a wall herb garden on one side of the fence with auto watering built in, but instead I just added my herbs to the bedding this year and removed greenery I don't need where I already have sprinklers to naturalize them.

What kind of system do you use for your self-watering patio?

Outdoor system is currently using a raindrop timer with additional Home Depot DYI parts.

What is your gardening dream?

I would like a fire / water feature with plants in it in the backyard, but I am afraid snakes would get in it.

Don't think about the snakes... look at this beautiful butterfly in Mama Yardful's zinnias - they get over six feet tall each year (the zinnias, not the butterflies)  and are great at attracting pollinators! When they get too tall and start to fall over, she cuts them and brings them inside to brighten her house!

... Only in Texas. What kind of garden pests do you typically have to deal with and how do you usually handle them?

Garden pests... My biggest "pests" are snakes, turtles, and birds. Nets help with the birds, but really it is just another reason to bring my edibles inside. Imagine wanting to trim some herbs and being concerned there might be a water moccasin. Not my idea of a fun cooking experience. Handle them? Ha! Snakes... run! Turtles... they are just annoying. I use the pool net to put them back in the lake. One silly neighbor thought I was trying to capture a turtle.

Because why wouldn't you be trying to catch turtles? Also, I don't remember you ever running from the snakes... I remember you killing them with whichever fireplace tool was closest...

This tutle decided to cool off in the pool and made friends with the pool cleaner

What are your favorite gardening resources?

Bing... Google... AeroGarden...

> You might think I made her say that, but my mother actually likes using Bing. Cross my heart!

Mama Yardful enjoying the flora of Hawaii!

Thanks mom for sharing your love of gardening over the years! And of course, I really appreciate you participating in today's Green Thumb Thursday planterview!

If you have any questions for her, feel free to email her at or leave them in the comments below.

Happy Mother's Day to all the great moms out there!

This interview was conducted over email and has been edited for clarity and morphology, but never content.