I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Anel Dzafic of the @botanicalbosnian. As you can see in the picture above, he has a spectacular garden in Connecticut. I found out about Anel and his love of gardening from following his fabulous wife, Julia of @lemonstripes. They finished building their garden beds around the same time we completed ours last spring. It has been fun to watch what they've grown, especially since we live in completely different zones. I love Anel's simple approach to gardening and enthusiasm for it. You can find out more in the interview below.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into gardening? I live in Westport, Connecticut with my wife, Julia, our 3-year-old daughter, Amalia, and a pit-mix named Boots. I own and run a fitness studio in Greenwich CT (@countdownfitness). Originally from Bosnia, I grew up in a village where we lived mostly off the land. We had cows, chickens and grew whatever vegetables were in season. As a little kid, I was always exposed to gardening because that was just the way of life. I always wanted to have a big garden as an adult, but while living in NYC for 15+ years it wasn’t exactly a viable option. When we moved to our current home with lots of land, I reached out to a local garden builder(@bebacktonature) to get me all set up. 2. What is your biggest piece of advice for someone who is just starting out with gardening? What is one thing to avoid?
Just plant s**t! It can be really intimidating but the plant will tell you what it needs. If it’s not growing, give it sun and food. If it’s sad looking (slumped), give it more water. Most of the time is both. Try not to overthink it. One biggie to avoid is chemical sprays and toxins in your garden. There are natural ways of dealing with pests and bugs without the chemicals. If you have bugs, it’s a good sign that you are growing delicious things. If they are not there then you have a problem. It takes a bit more time, but it’s worth it for organic veggies.
3. Any advice on gardening with kids? How do you get Amalia in the garden?
Get them involved. Get them their own gardening set and gloves and give them a section of the garden to dig in. When you start to plant, have your kid pick out what they want to grow. I took my daughter to the nursery and she helped my pick veggies, load up the cart and unload in the garden. She loved every step and was so proud when her strawberries were ready to eat! Make it a part of the routine to garden together and tell them what things are. Even though they don’t care sometimes it sticks, I promise. My 3 year old can name most of the veggies in my garden.
4. What are your must have tools and where do you buy them? Where are your favorite places to buy seeds from? My hands! I use my hands a lot. It makes me more grounded and connected to the plants I’m growing. I know it sounds cheesy but making this connection was important for me. When I did this the garden became a form of meditation to me. My zen space. I would tell my wife I’m going to check out the garden and two hours later I’m still there, she loves that. I have a pair of garden shears and a garden trowel. That’s it!
I like to support a local nursery here in Westport called Gilberties. I get a lot of my seeds there and all of my garden essentials. The seeds I really like that you can order online are from plantgoodseed. Flowers from prairienursery