Home garden in Ashland lets three generations grow together – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News
Carlyle Stout’s granddaughters, Nora, Lucia and Viviana, are the third generation of gardeners in the Stout family. Photos courtesy of Carlyle Stout
The Stout family’s vegetable garden is set in a neat grid of raised flower beds with wood chip paths in between.
Carlyle Stout in her Ashland garden.
Circles on Carlyle’s raised beds can be covered to provide plant protection when needed.
Carlyle Stout and her granddaughters.
Carlyle told me he ran out of the house in his robe and bare feet to snap a photo of one of the few rainbows we’ve had so far in 2021.
“Some gardeners will remember their earliest memories that no one sees the garden as vividly, or cares about it as passionately as the child growing up in it.“- Carol williams, “Giving life to a garden”, 1998
If (when!) I retire, I want to live as lively as Carlyle Stout. I met Carlyle, a former real estate / business lawyer, when he invited me to visit his vegetable garden and orchard in Ashland. However, we have scheduled our meetings around a Costa Rican surf trip with his wife, Barbara, a getaway to the northern California coast, and a day of fishing on Jenny Creek inside the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Carlyle certainly isn’t sitting around wondering what to do with the rest of her life.
Yet when Carlyle is home in Ashland where he and “Barb” raised their four children – Kevin, Trina, Michael and Brian – he is usually found in the back vegetable garden which has about 40 raised beds. Either there or he wanders the orchard alleys lined with blueberries, raspberries, puppets and Boysenberries on one side and apple, pear, peach, plum, cherry and fig trees on the other. He might be with one of his granddaughters – Nora, Viviana or Lucia – who points out this or that about the plants growing in the garden. That’s when Carlyle is fully in her element.
“For me, gardening is spiritual, physical, mental and emotional,” Carlyle told me. “It is an absolute joy for me to be out there working with my hands, growing my own food without chemicals or pesticides.”
Carlyle’s love of gardening began when he was in the Peace Corps with Barb, teaching school teachers in Guatemala how to grow organic food with their students. When he and Barb later bought a house in Ashland, he made sure there was enough room to grow vegetables, as well as the kids. Gardening became a family activity that had a big impact on the now adult Stout children who all returned to Ashland to further their careers, raise their own children, and continue the family tradition of gardening together.
Kevin, in particular, got involved in the family garden. After graduating from law school in 2009, he returned to Ashland and embarked on the project to increase the number of raised beds in the home garden and add features that allow the garden to function efficiently. . He grows tomatoes, peppers and melons in his own greenhouse so they have a good head start before planting them in the flower beds.
Like his father before him, Kevin uses his hands-on work in the garden to relieve some of the stress of his legal work. Kevin represents children in deportation and domestic violence cases.
Kevin said: “Another thing I love about the garden is being able to cook with fresh ingredients.” He mentioned that his sister, Trina, had recently returned to Ashland and that the family garden was part of his decision. “Growing, harvesting and cooking food from the garden is a way to bring the whole family together,” Kevin said.
He and his wife, Ali, build a house next door and convert an old shed on the property into a greenhouse. They are thrilled that their daughter, Viviana, can grow up in the family garden like Kevin did.
The Stout Family Garden spans two-thirds of an acre with a neat grid of raised beds, most of which are 4 feet by 8 feet wide and 15 inches tall. Some beds face east-west and others face north-south. A large grassy area separates the vegetable garden from the orchard. The whole area is open, so all the plants in the garden get plenty of direct sunlight throughout the day. The beds are watered from a stream that runs through the bottom of the property; the gutters installed in the beds operate on automatic timers. Overhead sprinklers are used for berry bushes.
The beds are not plowed; instead, Kevin bought a pitchfork to break up the compacted soil before adding compost and planting in the spring. The Stouts use shredded plant debris and kitchen scraps to make compost, and they supplement what they make by having compost delivered by a local supplier. To prevent varmints from entering the compost, bins were built with cloth and a cover.
A cold frame is useful for hardening the starts after they come out of Kevin’s greenhouse and for overwintering some of the plants.
Carlyle attributes the productivity of the garden to healthy soil. He said the Jackson County Master Gardener Association’s “Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley” (2017) helps them determine what and when to grow. In fact, he and Kevin agree that OSU’s outreach service provides a wealth of information that helps them continue to improve their gardening practices. Recently, they have started planting pollinator-friendly flowers in the raised beds and are starting to experiment with planting companions.
“Successful gardening is not entirely intuitive. I learned a lot (from the OSU extension) about soil health and orchard management, ”Kevin told me.
Carlyle noted that a successful garden doesn’t mean a pest-free garden, but it doesn’t let challenges stress it out. He said, “A wise gardener plants three seeds: one for insects, one for weather, and one for himself.
I bet Carlyle taught her children and grandchildren the same lesson.
Rhonda Nowak is a gardener, teacher and writer from Rogue Valley. Email him at [email protected] To learn more about gardening, check out his podcasts and videos at https://mailtribune.com/podcasts/the-literary-gardener.
Share your garden story
I would like to talk to you about your garden and share your garden story in a future column. Email me at [email protected] I’ll be sharing my garden story from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 3, when the historic Hanley Farm Bard’s Garden is open for self-guided tours and Shakespeare-inspired tastings. The Southern Oregon Historical Society will also be hosting a mini plant sale. Meet at the farm, 1053 Hanley Road at Central Point (just west of Medford and north of Jacksonville).