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Growing Wellness in a Garden: Meredith Thomas

Joy and serenity. That’s how Meredith Thomas uplifts my life within moments.
Meredith Thomas Meyer Lemon tea Central Texas Gardener
On a delightfully cool, misty morning in October 2019, she invited the CTG team to ease our cedar pollen-impacted raspy throats with both Meyer lemon and loquat tea. Both were yummy!

Her organic garden philosophy hasn’t changed since we first visited her and husband’s Walter Stroup Jr.’s Allendale home in 2012.
front yard orchard edible garden Meredith Thomas design Central Texas Gardener
What’s changed, of course, are some designs and plants, along with a diagnosis with two autoimmune disorders. Meredith explains, “I was told that they were progressive and incurable. And that I needed to take certain pills. I lost my energy. I lost my vitality. So, I started looking for healers and healing things. And that included plants. I was already fermenting, but I went more deeply into the healing qualities of various plants. And I’m happy to report that now, I no longer have the disorders in my system.”
Ed Fuentes Linda Lehmusvirta Meredith Thomas garden photo by Steve Maedl Central Texas Gardener
Back when we first met her, she’d dumped lawn for pea gravel and raised beds to grow organic, healthy food for her children. She hauled scavenges from wood to stones and built her soil with compost, an on-going process.
raised vegetable beds organic garden Meredith Thomas
Meyer lemon tree organic garden design Meredith Thomas Central Texas Gardener
This time in mid-October, director Ed Fuentes and grip Steve Maedl met summer’s burgundy amaranth and sunny cowpen daisies, shading newly sprouted winter herbs like arugula and cilantro along with upcoming vegetables.
raised vegetable beds stone wood organic food Meredith Thomas design
Raised vegetable and herb beds organic garden Meredith Thomas
Meredith’s intimate garden connection means that she thanks every plant as she picks it and brings it to the kitchen. That morning, she’d topped cooking rice with freshly plucked fig leaves. “They perfume with the most amazing, complex smell. It’s like vanilla and spicy. I also make tea from fig leaves,” she told us.
Fig tree drip hose bed Meredith Thomas garden Central Texas Gardener
Every plant multitasks, including evergreen, fruiting loquat and winter-deciduous flowering passion vine used as fence screening diversions. She decocts leaves of both for teas; passion vine’s leaves make a calming bedtime tea.
raised vegetable beds organic food passionvine loquat tree Meredith Thomas
She’s learned to forage wisely with respect for the wild foods that some consider weeds, like dock, cleavers, and chickweed. When they show up, she doesn’t banish them from orchestrated beds: she eats them!
raised vegetable beds stone wood wild plants fall vegetables summer flowers Meredith Thomas
A favorite is self-seeding lambsquarters, including Chenopodium giganteum ‘Magenta Spreen,’ a delicious summertime spinach-tasting green for sun to part shade, drought to deluge.
edible lambsquarters Chenapodium giganteum Magenta Spreen Meredith Thomas garden Central Texas Gardener
Meredith harvests from the front yard, too, where she invites neighbors to share. Pollinators and birds also welcome her neighborly food forest since she changed the curb side appeal (amended since last year’s CTG visit).
front yard mulch and limestone edge path food forest Meredith Thomas Central Texas Gardener
front curb and driveway edible garden Meredith Thomas design Central Texas Gardener
front yard sidewalk and curb edible plants Meredith Thomas design Central Texas Gardener
Along with fruit trees in a miniature front yard orchard, she tries new understory plants like Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes). Summertime flowers attract pollinators. The tubers can be harvested and eaten fresh, roasted, boiled, or steamed.
edible sunchoke Jerusalem artichoke Meredith Thomas Central Texas Gardener
She frames the front door with a fig tree and hardy Mexican herb papalo that adds an aromatic, strong flavor to summer salads.
front door food papalo fig moringa Meredith Thomas Central Texas Gardener
On the other side, she added healthful Moringa, native to India.
Papalo and moringa front door Meredith Thomas garden Central Texas Gardener
When I first met Meredith, she’d gotten into fermenting. Since the house is small, eventually she built a dedicated fermenting space.
raised bed organic food ferment house Meredith Thomas Central Texas Gardener

Harvests from the garden make it into fragrant, white vinegar-based cleaners, fermented foods of all kinds, tinctures, and bitters.
homemade healthy tinctures from garden Meredith Thomas Central Texas Gardener
Meredith Thomas fermented food with Ed Fuentes Central Texas Gardener
The past few months have encouraged many first-time gardeners to discover the satisfactory process of growing plants. Meredith sums it up perfectly: “It’s that energy of the plant and it’s the engagement with the plant that for me has been a great healer. Not just from what I’ve ingested but being in contact with them.”
passion vine flower in bowl Meredith Thomas garden Central Texas Gardener
Follow Meredith on Facebook and Instagram.
serene moment outside with Meredith Thomas food gardener Central Texas Gardener
Many thanks to Freejay MacLoud for providing his music.

Watch Meredith’s story now!

Thank you for stopping by! See you next week, Linda

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