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HOME AND GARDEN: Leaving the world behind

Together, Mickey and Mona Daughtry are a gardening team. Mona is a master gardener while Mickey does most of the gardening labor.

“Mickey picks what he wants to plant, and I tell him what we’ll need. Together we figure out where to plant it and what we need to do to the soil,” Mona explained.

In 2005, Mona left her job at the hospital for a position at Lowes as the live nursery specialist, which is the person in the garden center who takes care of the plants and has the knowledge and background to help customers with anything garden related.

“I have a degree in biology and chemistry, and I went through the coorporative extension service to get my master gardener,” Mona said.

After a few years of working at Lowes, Mona decided to return to the hospital where she is now running virus tests everyday.

Last fall, the couple moved to the property that they purchased from a retired police officer who past away a couple of years ago, Roy Pugh. “Our neighbors told us he had a garden here, and last spring, I plowed it and planted our garden in the same spot,” Mickey said. “Roy’s daughter told us several times that she believes her father would be really happy to see a garden back in the same spot.”

The Daughtrys have always piddled around with gardening in the past, but now it has become an enjoyable escape from the rest of the world.

“We both work – Mona works in the lab at the hospital and I work at Troy Bank & Trust – and we needed something to get us away from it when we came home each day,” Mickey said.

The Daughtrys grow a variety of fruits, vegetables, and plants including four different types of tomatoes, zucchini, squash, eggplant, okra, corn, cucumbers, sunflowers, sage, parsley, lavender, rosemary, and more.

Because it is late in the season, Mickey explained he will have to pull up the zucchini and squash soon and plant something different. In the fall, he plans to plant some kind of cool season vegetables like lettuce or onions.

The Daughtrys keep their pasture and main garden fertilized with cow manure and watered with a sprinkler system.

Aside from their main garden, they have also set up plants on their dock where they have a solar powered pump that is hooked up to an irrigation system. The solar panel supplies the power for the pump to bring in water from the pond through a pipe to each plant.

“I got the idea from Pinterest and I bought the pump on Amazon. It pumps up pond water, cycles through, and waters everything. Then it drops back down into the pond when they’re full,” Mona said.

These plants are watered everyday through a drip system as long as the sun comes up. At night, the system turns off, but once the sun hits the panel the next morning the watering cycle starts again.

Mona explained that no extra fertilizer is needed for these plants because the pond fish do a wonderful job providing it.

For Mickey, the most difficult part of gardening is staying ahead of the grass. “When you garden, you’re going to fight grass. When you farm anywhere, it’s just a matter of picking our battles,” Mona said.

While gardening requires hard work and can be a battle, the Daughtrys encourage others to start gardens of their own. “To those who are thinking about gardening, go ahead and do it. You won’t regret it,” Mickey said. He also believes that it is very important to plant what you want and what you like to eat.

Cooking is another activity the couple enjoys, especially when they are cooking with the produce they have grown themselves. “Mona is a great cook. She makes delicious spaghetti noodles with spiralized zucchini called zoodles and stir fry with zucchini, squash, and chicken,” Mickey explained.

“We share with everybody,” Mona added. “We’ll give our vegetables to family, friends, and neighbors, and we share recipes back and forth.”

Mickey and Mona enjoy being able to connect with their neighbors through gardening. One of their neighbors helped Mickey plow the plots on the top of their hill, and Mona will bring a bucket full of produce to them as well as their other neighbors.

Besides sharing with others, the Daughtrys cherish the time they spend together in their garden. From weeding and watering the garden to feeding the fish and walking the dogs, they enjoy getting away from the worries of everyday life.

“God is good to us. I just like the fact that we can do this together. When we’ve been through a hard stressful day, we come home, drive over that hill, and we leave the world behind,” Mickey said with a smile.

Story by Lauren Johnson

For more stories from the July/August edition of TroyLife, pick up a copy at various locations around the community or at The Messenger office.