Meet Nichollette Shorts from New Jersey, United States

“I am basically an accidental DIY gal, after buying my 1st home this December. Luckily I'm incredibly determined and stubborn, which I feel makes for a great gardener. I’m also an actress in NYC, and a professional socializer (because I never stop talking).

While living in Brooklyn, NY I found myself looking out at my overgrown and under-utilized backyard, and wanting to turn it into something beautiful. I was out of work, nursing an injury at the time, and I had made the decision to plant a few herbs. A few herbs quickly turned into a few tomatoes and a blueberry bush. Before I knew it I had my partner building me some raised garden beds, and I had completely transformed the yard into a cottage garden. That transformation gave me back a feeling of accomplishment, and a passion to plant and learn more.

A few years before my injury, I began working hard to live a healthier lifestyle. Food and Fitness was becoming a big part of my day to day life, and I began to realize when I had nutritious food around me I instinctively made healthier decisions. Remembering this realization during my garden transformation, encouraged me to grow as much food as I could. I loved the idea that for the entire summer I could eat food straight out of my garden. Not only was I excited to save money on groceries, but I loved the way my body responded to this more organic way of living.

My vegetable garden is 360sq ft. I also incorporate vegetables into my landscape plantings, to utilize more space for produce. I am a big believer in compost. I save my own food scrapes for compost to enrich the soil. I also really love to use shredded leaves to top off my garden beds in fall, and I find come spring my soil is better because of it. For garden pests I really try to let mother nature do her thing without getting involved. I deal with aphids the most in my garden, and for that I use my garden hose or some soapy water to spray them off. If the problem gets really bad, Neem oil and BT are my tried and true pest control options.

Due to the fact that I am not technically located in a gardening/farming community, it can be hard to find great resources. There seems to be so many restrictions and rules when trying to live a more self sustainable lifestyle. For example, we had chickens living down the street from us in Brooklyn, but now that we have more land and a larger house in New Jersey chickens are not allowed in our area.

Unfortunately, because we moved into our new community right before the pandemic, its been hard to find ways to get involved. I was in Brooklyn for a long time, and I felt much more involved in their community gardens, farmer’s markets, and small plant shares. Here in my new township I have had the opportunity to be a part of a plant share, a seed swap, and there is an amazing farm named Dreyer Farm nearby that I frequently recommend to anyone in the area for organic produce, seeds, bulbs, and more.

I hope to be an example of the many ways gardening can enhance your life, and how fun it can be to create your own stress free and purposeful environment. Not only focusing on what you’re putting in your body, but also what caring for a garden can really bring to your life. Every time I see a bumble bee or butterfly land on my flowers I feel like I’m doing something really wonderful. Having something to nurture, watch grow, and benefit from, provided me with a strong sense of accomplishment and positivity at a time when I needed it most.”