We are so excited to be sharing a series of garden tours from some of our Incredible Seeds community members! To launch the series, we're sharing a garden tour from our own neighbourhood on the South Shore of Nova Scotia! Margaret Hoegg of Living Locavore shares her passion for gardening, permaculture, edible landscaping, and all of the goodness her garden yields - from fresh, organic food to mental health and wellness. May this little walk through her garden inspire you on your own gardening journey!
Gardener: Margaret Hoegg
Garden Location and Zone: Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, Zone 5
Garden Size: about 1/8 acre
How long have you been gardening? 10 years
Why do you garden?
I garden for self-care - I head to the garden when my energy feels frenetic and lacking direction and I plant seeds, pull weeds, harvest things, take some photos, and return from my garden feeling grounded and nurtured.
I garden for my mental and physical wellness - doing garden yoga while crunching fresh peas and smelling the perfume from heirloom sweet peas is me living my best life.
I garden for food security - there's no better feeling than knowing you have direct access to fresh, organic food. Between the garden, our laying hens, foraging, fishing, and our neighbours who raise and hunt meat, we eat really well!
I garden for my marriage - my husband and I thrive when we’re working on the garden together. I think we need a greenhouse so that we can garden year round - its an investment in our relationship, so totally justified, right?
I garden for my children - seeing them pull fresh carrots and kale from the garden and put it directly in their bodies is hugely rewarding. We’ve been homeschooling for a few years and the garden is hands down where they are most engaged in learning.
How would you describe your garden?
My garden is a creative space, but I’m more of an abstract artist, flinging colour and splatters everywhere in bursts and fits of emotion and energy. Its wild, I like to interplant, companion plant, and I tend to resist rows. I love mixing flowers and food and seeing what comes up from the year before. I love vertical gardening as well. I think of my garden like a sort of outdoor sanctuary - a place to retreat, snack, reflect, and nourish the mind, body, and spirit.
My husband works on an organic farm, so he brings a lot of order and discipline to our garden. My tendencies are much more wild and I tend to garden in bursts, so we balance each other nicely. We also love raised beds because it helps keep things organized and it's easier to build the soil for specific crops.
Where do you go for gardening inspiration?
The Internet - especially Pinterest and Instagram - is brimming with inspiration, but the public library is my favourite place. I love to have a stack of gardening books on the table at all times to flip through with my morning coffee or evening tea. Pouring over gardening and homesteading books has really helped me define my gardening style and vision.
I also like to think of all of my women ancestors who grew food. My mum is an incredible gardener and instilled a love of plants in me at a young age. My grandmother always had beautiful roses and handmade trellises surrounding her very practical vegetable garden. I have a patch of "ancestral mint" that originally came from my great-great grandmother's garden in England.
I like to think of ways my garden can live beyond me, which is why I'm so drawn to perennials I think.
What are your favorite gardening books or resources?
Some of my favourite go-to resources are:
Niki Jabbour The Year Round Vegetable Gardener
Marjorie Willison East Coast Gardener
Tobey Hemenway Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Homescale Permaculture
H.C. Flores Food Not Lawns
What’s your biggest gardening challenge?
Learning to slow down. It’s easy to get carried away with the beautiful vision in your head and want everything to happen right away. But it's just not realistic, or enjoyable. We’re just a young family trying to juggle it all, and living a slow lifestyle that supports mental and physical wellness and creativity is important to us. We’ve learned the hard way, through burnout, that big homestead dreams take time. Small, incremental steps taken mindfully and intentionally build lasting, sustainable change. It's not just a gardening lesson, but a life lesson. I write a lot about these ideas on my blog because I think people almost need permission to take their time!
What’s your biggest garden accomplishment?
Definitely seeing my children’s confidence, skill, and knowledge about plants, gardening, and the natural world grow year after year. (And my own, also!) My first born planted garlic with me at six weeks old - now, at six years old, she can plant, harvest, and store it. She learned to count to one hundred with garlic cloves! My four year old loves the physical tasks - shoveling compost, digging potatoes, and building structures.
They are part of everything - from preparing soil, to planting seeds, tending plants, harvesting, and cooking. They show so much respect for plants and get a lot of joy out of the whole process. I’m so proud of them and the life we are building as a family.
I also love putting together gift baskets for friends and family full of veggies, flowers, and eggs. Sharing the abundance feels so vital.
What do you most love to grow?
Edible perennials are my favourite thing to grow. I love to establish perennials or self-seeding annuals, especially if they are edible or inviting to birds, butterflies, and pollinators. I love edible landscaping - this year I bought Bush Cherries from you and planted an edible hedge. I also love working on my fruit tree guilds - moving plants around to work in community and support one another. It feels so creative to me! I also grow a lot of herbs and flowers to dry for tea, medicine, and self-care products.
What are your favourite Incredible Seeds?
The majority of what we grow we buy from you - I love growing heirloom vegetables and your catalogue has encouraged me to try new things.
I love the Black Krim and Black Prince Tomatoes for their juiciness and beautiful dark colour; Bright Lights Rainbow Swiss Chard is gorgeous; Forellenschluss and Crisp Mint Lettuce are two favourites; Rainbow Lacinato Kale is delicious and ornamental; I love juicing Golden Detroit Beets; New Zealand Spinach is great - it gets really bushy and doesn’t bolt in the heat!
Can you share one or two of your favorite gardening tips?
Use the natural resources available to you. We live by the ocean, so we harvest seaweed from the beaches to mulch and fertilize our plants. It works beautifully! We live near a small dairy that raises Water Buffalo, so last year we got a truckload of manure from them. We also have chickens, so we compost their manure and make rich compost teas. Building healthy soil is so fundamental, but there are many ways to do so.
Choose one plant each year to focus on and master. Last year it was carrots for me - I gave them more love than ever before - learned germination tricks and carefully built their soil in a raised bed - and I was rewarded! Now I have the knowledge and experience to grow great carrots with less effort. This year I am learning all I can about caring for my raspberry patch.
About the Gardener:
Margaret Hoegg is a writer and homesteader in rural Nova Scotia. She runs a copywriting business as well as Living Locavore, a blog and community for women who aim to live rural, sustainable, and abundant lifestyles. Alongside her plant-loving husband and two children, Margaret and family are ever so slowly transforming their one acre homestead, Hawthorne Hollow, into a permaculture paradise.
Thank you, Margaret, for sharing your garden with us!