I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Thomas Berolzheimer of @tberolz, otherwise known as Garden Tom. I found out about Thomas and his love of gardening from following his lovely and talented wife, Julia of @juliaberolzheimer. Thomas has been gardening for years at his home in Charleston and recently started Garden Tom Grow-a-long. A step by step guide shown in IGTV and on his website on how to grow your own garden. He makes gardening fun and less intimidating, exactly what I think gardening should be. You can find out more about Thomas and his gardening business in the interview below.
1. Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started in the garden? What zone are you in?
My name is Thomas Berolzheimer and I live in Charleston, SC, Zone 8b. My wife and I work full time on our business, Julia Berolzheimer. We have a daughter that recently turned one and a half and she loves to be out in the garden with me. I've always wanted to garden but after college we moved to San Francisco where we didn't have an outdoor space. When we bought our house in Charleston and settled in, I dove right into gardening. Each year I've dedicated more and more time to it and last year during COVID, it was pretty much all I could think about. This year, I decided to convert my hobby into a business, by committing to offer a free Grow-a-long where I share step by step what people should do to grow the same garden with me. 2. You recently started a website, called Garden Tom, tell us a little more about that?
After posting gardening content on Instagram during the last couple of years I was encouraged by all of the positive responses I got from it. I'm constantly consuming gardening knowledge, I read a ton, listen to podcasts, watch youtube, TV shows and even the occasional academic research paper. I was a beginning gardener only a few years ago so I've always kept that audience in mind as I create content. I try my best to filter everything down to the bare essentials of what people need to know and why it matters. Right now the site primarily focuses on the step by steps of the Garden Tom Grow-a-long but I have big dreams for the brand and I'm working on making some of those dreams reality in 2022. 3. What is your favorite thing to grow? Why? What is something you'd never grow again?
I really enjoy growing basil. I think it's one of the most beautiful plants with its rich green color, it grows well underneath a large plant like tomatoes and when you can't keep up with all of the basil in your garden just make a big batch of pesto and freeze in serving size portions.
It's not that I won't grow squash again but I'm doing so with caution. Last year I tried to grow zucchini and delicata squash, I'm still unsure what went wrong with the delicata squash. With the zucchini I tried to "train" it to grow vertically, this was next to impossible as all it wanted to do was trail along the ground and the stems and leaves are super sharp and spiky. It grew about 3.5ft, producing maybe 10 edible zucchini then it just died. This year I'm growing a vining zucchini (centercut squash) up an 8 foot trellis and hoping for better luck. My tip is, if you want to grow squash, make sure you have a ton of space for it. 4. Do you have any advice for parents and getting their kids in the garden? Clementine (our daughter) seems to already have a love of the garden. I like to plant things that attract a lot of wildlife, even in my vegetable gardens I try to keep them at least 25% flowers of some sort. Clementine has just become very fond of bugs, lizards and birds. The flowers are also so bright, colorful and smell good which adds to her experience. Root vegetables (especially radish and carrots) are accessible for kids and easy to harvest. I also love the idea for older kids to dedicate an area of your garden to them and/or help them pick out the plants they want. Last year, one of our closest friend's daughters showed a lot of interest in my garden so I told her to pick out some seeds with me and she could keep coming over to check on the progress. Each time she'd come back over I'd have another lesson to teach her. 5. What is your favorite tool in the garden? Where are your favorite places to buy seeds and bulbs from?
So my favorite tool(s) are probably one of my many Niwaki cutting tools, these secateurs are just incredible and make sure to keep them in tip top shape with this cleaning and sharpening kit. My favorite places for seeds are Rare Seeds, Sow True and High Mowing Organic Seeds. My favorite place for bulbs is Flourish Flower Farm, her bulbs business is seasonal so I suggest you signup for her newsletter.