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Hello, I’m Bob Styer, the creator of The Victorious Gardener. This little corner of the internet is dedicated to organic gardening, growing your own food, and anything related to being more self-sufficient.

If you’re new to organic gardening, our primary goal is to give you the knowledge you need to get started and keep going.

If you’re already experienced enough to have a few pairs of compost-stained jeans, we hope you’ll pick up some new bits of information that will make you say, “I didn’t know that!”

Regardless, we hope everyone who stops here has an enjoyable and informative time on their way to becoming a Victorious Gardener.  We don’t have any bots here; we’re all humans talking and writing about things that humans appreciate.

The Styer family 10/15/2021.
Our family in 2021. Since then we’ve gained three more grandchildren. I’m at the upper left and my wife Sherry is in front of me.

How I Got Started With Organic Gardening

My trek into organic gardening got its seed from my maternal grandparents. I have many memories from that special time, and I still vividly recall following them around as they tended to the chickens, gathered eggs, planted seeds, and harvested vegetables.

I wasn’t alone, however. In those early days, I had a brother and two sisters. Once you added our four close cousins, it was a tight-knit, playful group.

When we were together, we were a force to be reckoned with.  By the way, the final tally of siblings by the mid-60s was six in my family and seven close cousins!

I always liked those rare times when I could be a lone wolf with Grandpa.  He always cut the core out of cabbages before he brought them into the house.  I always thought those cores were a great treat, and I cut the cores out of cabbages to this day to keep the memory alive.

We’d also sneak the occasional tomato or green bean out of his garden because they tasted so good.  I remember grabbing a tasty-looking little pepper one day and chomping down on it.

I didn’t know it was a hot pepper when I picked it.  After chomping down on it, I knew flames were streaming behind me when I ran screaming to get some water.  I love hot peppers now, but not so much when I was six.

And The Fun Continues

Another place for gardening memories was Uncle Pike’s farm, which was also great for family picnics.  We always enjoyed getting on the sled he pulled with his John Deere tractor.

Once we got to the field, we spent the afternoon picking berries, gathering veggies and herbs, exploring the woods, and causing general mayhem.

Uncle Pike liked to be creative.  I remember when he and my grandfather (his father) tried curing some tobacco they had grown.  They wanted to save money on their pipe tobacco.  How did it work out?  Let’s just say they decided to keep buying pipe tobacco.

Those were pleasant days when I was around gardens and gardening. That all changed when I was about ten years old…

How I Learned How to Hate Gardening…

My family moved into a new house in 1960, and a couple of years later, my Dad decided to return to his roots.  He grew up on a dairy farm in southern Ohio during the Great Depression.  The few good memories he had from that time motivated him to start a large vegetable garden.  And with the size of our family, it made sense.

My grandmother (Dad’s mom) got him a subscription to Organic Gardening and Farming Magazine and a copy of their gardening encyclopedia (which is a classic).  After studying them and a few seed catalogs, Dad had his plan worked out (he always was a good planner).

Now, before this, anything related to gardens was pleasant.  Since we were children, we enjoyed the results but didn’t have to do the heavy work.

But now, Dad expected all of us to get involved. He worked full-time, so the whole family had to help prepare, plant, tend, and harvest the garden. What? Do we have to do the work, too? That wasn’t in my youthful mind.

Since I was the oldest, most of the “kid work” fell on me.  Except for my sister Mary, the other siblings were too small for “heavy” lifting.

We grew up in a neighborhood with an army of great kids who were all our friends.  Needless to say, I wasn’t happy pounding ground in the garden when my friends were having fun.

There were woods to explore, ball games to play, and foolishness to commit.  Only the threat of punishment kept me in the garden just long enough to keep Dad happy. All of that gave me a negative attitude toward any gardening.

…And Then Stopped Worrying and Loved the Soil

After a few short years, my attitude changed.  I started reading that organic gardening magazine and the encyclopedia.  This stuff made sense, and I became interested in organic gardening.

This was long before the internet, so you had to rely on your own reference books, the public library, and old-timer experience.  It also helped that I had an excellent Biology teacher in high school, followed by elective classes in college.  I was hooked on growing edible plants.

What Qualifies Me to Write About Organic Gardening?

First of all, I haven’t had years of gardening experience; I’ve had decades.  I’ve seen and done the things that work well and the things that make you wonder, “Why did I do that?”  Anyone who is successful with anything can tell you about the failures that taught them along the way.

Even gardeners with certifications will tell you they learned the most while working with the soil.  That’s because doing something in the real world gets you further and faster than sitting in a classroom.

My early gardening experiences included tilling, but organic methods were used for everything else.  Later, I discovered the benefits of no-till gardening, which you can read about at that link.  I haven’t touched a plow or roto-tiller since then.

My Family and Gardening Kept Me Connected to Reality

I spent my career as an electrical engineer specializing in industrial control systems.  Although there were times when I worked at a desk, this wasn’t a desk job.  You always had to travel to the problems.  My career took me all over the US, Canada, and Mexico, solving those problems and completing major projects for large industries.

Over the years, I’ve been a corporate engineer and even an independent engineering consultant.  No two days were ever alike.  I’ve designed industrial control systems from scratch, specified and purchased material and software for projects, solved problems, written programs, and managed projects.  And that’s only scratching the surface.

Through it all, I’ve always maintained a strong connection with my wife and family, who are blessings from the Lord Jesus Christ.  They all make up the three-stranded cord that can’t be broken.

After returning from a long business trip, life got real again when I was home with my family.  I was away from all the intensity, noise, and techno-chaos.  Getting outside to work in the garden was another way to return to calmness.

How Writing Snuck Into All of This

I’m retired now, so the trips and dealing with the TSA and customs agents are done now.  I’ve had a victorious and wonderful career, but I’m glad my time in that saddle is over.

Since I’m not the type to sit around drinking beer and watching television, I knew I would be taking on other projects after retirement.  One of them happens to be this website.

Writing for enjoyment started when I was in high school, and it’s been a consistent part of my life ever since.  I wrote articles and stories for the school magazine and newspaper.

They may have been part of the course requirements, but I enjoyed it.  I even managed to pick up some awards during that time.

I worked part-time as a reporter for a few local newspapers during college. Then, when I started my engineering career, I got into technical writing. That included writing proposals, reports, procedures, letters, operating and maintenance manuals, and other documents.

Getting back to informative and entertaining writing with the Victorious Gardener website is refreshing. It sure beats cranking out that dry, boring technical material.

In my last corporate position before retiring, I became the go-to guy when anything needed writing.  During my last week, I thought I could skate like other short-timers.  You know, wandering around the office, not doing much.

I had plans to visit with everyone, do lunches, talk about shared experiences, laugh at funny memories, then have a party and leave to enjoy the rest of my life.

But that didn’t happen to me. One of the VPs, whom everyone liked and respected, asked me to help with an important project.  They needed a written procedure explaining how to test the electrical propulsion systems on certain NOAA research ships.  It had to be done in five days – the same five days as my last week.  Talk about timing!

Well, I set to it and completed it before the deadline.  It ended up being 29 pages full of text, graphs, tables, and data.  The company sent it out immediately for government review.

A week after I retired, my former boss called to thank me.  He said that NOAA was very pleased with my work and awarded the company a large contract.  I got a pat on the back, but a check wasn’t included!  Oh, well.  They did give me a great party on my last day.

Now It All Comes Together

I gave you this little snippet of my background so you’ll know something about me.  You’ll learn more as you spend time on this site.  I’m a real person, and the things I write come from my heart, not something with “AI” or “GPT” in the name.

My background in engineering gave me a solid reputation for honesty and accuracy.  I can’t fudge numbers or facts.  Someone could get hurt or killed when you do that as an engineer.  Gardening is much safer, but I put that same attitude into everything you read on The Victorious Gardener.

I’ve spent my career solving problems with great success.  If you need help with gardening problems, drop me an email.  And since I’m a real person, the email doesn’t need to be only about gardening.  Contact me with any questions, comments, or opinions about whatever interests you.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything
by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6

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