An introduction 10 years ago was the start of a, you could say, blossoming future for Joey and Holly Baird. West Allis native Holly moves to Missouri for a job. There she meets Illinois-reared Joey. Sharing an interest in all things green, they move to Milwaukee, using Holly’s mom’s 1,700-square-foot backyard as a space to indulge their mutual plant-based passion. They also started a Facebook page entitled The Wisconsin Vegetable Gardener, to tackle the problems specific to this state.
Interest from the flora-minded public really ignites once the Bairds start posting YouTube videos featuring their demos on growing potatoes in containers and indoor set-ups for winter veggie planting.
Fast forward to March 2018, and the sprouting of the second season of the couple’s radio show, “The Wisconsin Vegetable Gardener” (airing Saturdays through October, 9 a.m. on WNOV 860-AM). While Holly still holds down a full-time day job, Joey manages all things related to their show (a mix of in-studio interviews with experts and listener call-in questions), website, Facebook page and their many public appearances at garden shows and the like. The Bairds advocate simple living wherever they can and talked gardening with Mil Mag:
Have you ever had a question you couldn’t answer?
JOEY: Oh, yes. The invasive jumping worm. People have asked, “How do I get rid of it?” We had to go to the University of Wisconsin-Extension to get an answer. And that’s that nobody knows how to get rid of it. They’re telling people not to buy soil that’s composted locally. The worms turn good soil into soil you can’t grow anything in.
Of your own vegetable successes, is there anything unusual you’ve managed to grow?
JOEY: We like to do an off-the-wall plant. You’re not supposed to be able to grow the yucca plant north of Tennessee. But we started [growing the root vegetable] about three years ago. It’s a substitute for potato that’s lower on the glycemic index.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about gardening?
HOLLY: The time-management thing. People with kids, they ask, “How do I have time to take care of a garden?” We tell them they don’t necessarily need to have a huge garden.
JOEY: But you need to allot a certain amount of time to tending it. And a lot of people think [a garden] is costly. But it’s really an investment. … the money you put in upfront, you get a better return on your investment than golfing!