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Growing Up: Michael and the Beanstalk

Michael Nolan
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If you want to grow something, my new column is here to help you do just that regardless of the obstacles. The best part is that “Growing Up!” is about a lot more than just gardening! This isn’t going to be just another how-to column. Every month you’ll also find:

  • Growing up no matter where you live, with special attention to urban gardeners.
  • Your favorite memories of gardening and growing up outdoors.
  • Introduce a new generation to the wonders of growing up with family-friendly projects that are 100% kid tested and fun for everyone.

In short, this is all about growing up together and enjoying every step of the journey. I’m so happy to be here and sharing it with you. Now that we’ve covered exactly what we’ll be talking about, I thought you might like to know a little more about the guy who will be doing the talking.

When I was a kid I wanted to be Old MacDonald. Seriously.

michael-nolan-kidAt the tender age of 3 I knew that I wanted to someday have a farm with animals and a big vegetable garden and ei-ei-oh. While some were daydreaming of being an astronaut or a doctor, I wanted nothing more than to have a pig-pig here and a chick-chick there.

Thirty-seven years later and an arguably more mature Michael still has the dream, though I am setting my sights on retiring to a small farm one day in the distant future while I currently still enjoy the modern conveniences afforded by urban life. I may not have the barnyard animals or a few dozen acres at my disposal, but the passion for gardening has never left me even for a moment.

Do you remember way back in elementary school when we all saved our milk cartons from lunch and planted beans? While most of the kids shoved their bean seedling into their backpacks and forgot them, I carried mine home and begged & pleaded until I was allowed to plant it in the yard. It was there, in the shadow of an aboveground pool with my faithful dog Hershey as my only audience, that I went from “I like my grandfather’s garden” to “I am a gardener.”

Sure I was disappointed when the beanstalk didn’t grow miles high into the clouds, but once those tiny purple flowers turned into beans, I was hooked and I never looked back.

Through creativity and a little stubbornness over the years, I managed to grow my own food and beautiful flowers across the country from the window of a military barracks in Texas to a 12th floor balcony in New York City, from a 10 acre farm in rural Alabama to the community garden I founded in NW Atlanta in 2009. I never let a lack of time or space get in the way of me growing plants while I was growing up and now we get to do it together!

Got questions about this article or any other garden topic? Go here now to post your gardening ideas, questions, kudos or complaints. We have gardening experts standing by to help you!