Regularly, I profile one of the very involved and talented members of Flea Market Gardening. These folks are inspirational, talented gardeners and bargain shoppers! You may already recognize their names and photos and the next time you do you can say hello!
One of the most dedicated gardeners and scarecrow makers at Flea Market Gardening FB page is Brian Stephan. He lives and gardens in Mesa, Arizona and specializes in vegetable gardening. Here’s a bit about Brian in his own words:
“As a small child, I lived in a small farming community in Ontario, Canada, and since we were surrounded by fields, we didn’t have a garden, as anything we could want was available cheaply from the local farms. When I was 9, we moved to Tucson, AZ, which was quite a change from our former home. I began to do yard work at home and then for some of the neighbors and family friends.”
“When one of the elderly ladies my brother Ralph and I worked for sent us home with some iris rhizomes after we finished thinning her beds, my love affair with irises began. Before long, we had several beds of them at our place and I loved the sea of blue they created each Spring.”
“When my dad remarried, my stepmother, who was very much into “Mother Earth News”, this being the early 70’s, decided we should have a garden. My siblings and I spent many hours after school with a shovel and spading fork turning a 40’ x 40’ foot section of the backyard into a vegetable garden. We began composting house and yard waste and since my dad was a cheapskate, we went out on the weekends and collected “cow patties” until my stepmother finally convinced him it was cheaper to buy a few yards of composted manure. We grew both summer and winter gardens and eventually turned half the front yard into a “corn field”.
“When I moved out, I rented an apartment with a small back yard and put in a vegetable patch. It was nearly 20 years after moving out of that apartment before I began gardening again, this time at my home with a yard in which I could do whatever I wanted. I planted a small vegetable garden, some grapes and an Anna apple tree, but then I got a new job that required me to travel and eventually all that was left was the apple tree.”
Brian tells us, “Two years ago, I started a new job that has a lighter travel requirement and began to reclaim the yard. I’ve added raised beds for veggies, an ‘Ein Shemer’ apple tree, a pomegranate, a Eureka lemon and flower beds, including irises. I also love old things and re-purposing things, so it was a logical progression when I started adding yard art to the gardens.”
“I’ve re-purposed store racks into trellises for the roses, turned an old dresser into a potting station, used old fence wood to build a birdhouse and an outdoor sink, and borrowed ideas from others to find uses for an old wheelbarrow, a bowling ball, an old ladder and an old scooter.
“After seeing some of the scarecrows on Flea Market Gardening, I built Larry, who resides in my front yard year-round and dresses to celebrate the seasons and various holidays.” Brian says. Larry has a calendar for 2013 found on Brian’s blog, Mr B’s Garden.
Brian says, “The weather cooperated this day, so I finally got the birdhouse condo installed. It was a little hairy getting a 15 lb birdhouse up a 6′ ladder and onto a threaded pipe 8′ in the air, but it was worth it.”
Brian says, “Here’s the wheelbarrow after conversion to a succulent garden. It took 60 lbs of play sand, 2 cubic ft of potting soil and lots of hand mixing to make the soil mixture. There are 15 different succulents purchased for color and/or texture.”
“I’m hoping to instill my love of gardening to my grandchildren, as it seems it’s too late for my kids to start, and 2 of them are currently in the garden club at their elementary school. I’ll be spending some time with them during their Christmas vacation, building raised beds for their own vegetable garden and will allow them to decide what they want to plant. Maybe we’ll even build a scarecrow.”