31: Andrea Hughes | Registered Nurse, Peace Corps Volunteer & Master Gardener | Michigan Lake Blogger

Tell us a little about yourself.

Grew up in Michigan, works as a registered nurse, gardening is a hobby. Was in the Peace Corps, in Malawi, Africa and learned a little bit about permaculture worked with Stacia Nordin. Is currently taking the master gardener class through Michigan State University.


Tell me about your first gardening experience?

Mother always had garden. From the time Andrea was 6 lived in rural area so always clearing land,

Dad would take her and her brother on excursions on the weekends. Once they went to a museum at a house owned by the Dodge family, where she fell in love with a miniature version of the home with a little girl’s garden and went home and her parents created her one like it.

What does organic gardening/earth friendly mean to you?

Not using synthetic chemicals in environment and trying to use as few chemicals as possible even organic sprays.

Who or what inspired you to start using organic techniques?

Parents never used major chemicals but would dust roses.

How did you learn how to garden organically?

Learning about permaculture in Malawi.

Tell us about something that grew well this year.

Planted a couple of pear trees in backyard. Transplanted some woodland roses, brought over some bloodroot from parents home.

Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

Putting in along lakeshore, an herb garden mixed with flowers, and perennial vegetables like asparagus and stingy nettles, kiwi vines.

Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.

Trouble with tomatoes because it was cool and damp. Got a mold or blight on them. Leaves turned brown.

Something that you find is easy to grow and is generally successful every-time.

Zucchini, any kind of herb, daylillies and hosta, bleeding heart, echinacea.

Something you would steer new gardeners away from that you find is typically challenging to grow in your climate

Garden centers try to push zones, bought a broadleaf,

Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden.

Hauling stone edging, when putting in a new garden.

What is your favorite activity to do in the garden.

Planting, get instant gratification, instantly looks good, and then you get long term great when it grows and it’s gorgeous and makes you some food.

A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.

Cross between a spade and a knife.


Eating or harvesting vegetables or fruit on time? 

On website have a chart for when things are coming, herbs can be harvested any time as long as they haven’t bolted. Tomatoes, pick when red, or maybe when their green and they’ll turn red in the house. Zucchinis can be picked small or they

Do you have any secrets for preserving food-making it last? 

Can tomatoes, have a pressure canner to make spaghetti sauce, going to try broth this year. Go to Ball canning website there are directions for time. If you regularly can you need to either use super sugary foods or acidic. A pressure canner is different then a pressure cooker.

Do you have any special techniques for cooking weird or unusual foods?

Some of the greens, going to try to plant stinging nettle, wild greens like dandelion leaves, herbs like

Love herbs because they attract various insects, they smell good, taste great. Want to plant a row of lavender along walkway, chamomile – bees love

Watched a lovely youtube video about chives in an English Kitchen Garden in Brittain

A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?

Spaghetti sauce, tomatoes fresh, pesto using any herb even mint

A favorite internet resource?


MSU extension – master gardener also gives you in to a group where you do community work to maintain master gardener status and follow up classes. Classes are fun, little hour seminars. Belong to a garden club in Brighton, MI so going to work on the library garden.

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?

Bill Mollison on Permaculture

Amy Stewart – Good Bug/Bad BugWicked PlantsFlower Confidential, and the Earth Moved

Final question- if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the earth either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

EPA to have some teeth. Did an internship for the EPA for a brief time, and they have awesome people and are forced to put everything into a little soundbite.

Do u have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?

Just try it, the plants are on your side and they want to grow so they’ll do most of the work for you with a little encouragement!

Connect with Andrea at her Michigan Lake Home Garden website and blog!


Thanks for visiting Mike’s Green Garden. If you like what you heard on the Organic Gardener Podcast we’d love it if you’d give us a 5 star rating on iTunes so other gardeners can find us and listen to. Just click on the link here:



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About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

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