Jamila Norman of Magnolia’s Homegrown Talks Gardening Ideas


Jamila Norman decided 12 years ago in Atlanta, GA, to leave her professional career behind and start her own farm – Patchwork City Farms – and she knows a thing or two about crops. Norman has earned international recognition for her hard work as an urban farmer who let nothing stop her – not even a tiny four-acre garden in Atlanta. Norman is a busy woman, and when Magnolia Network approached her in 2020, this was the right place at the right time. In fact, as Norman puts it, it was in her “Year of Yes” and she just did it! Norman stars on Magnolia Network’s latest TV show Self-madewhich you can see when the network launches on July 15th.

in the Self-made, Norman shares her knowledge of farming by helping people set up farms in their own backyards. No matter the size, amount of light, or floor, Norman uses her years of experience – and Caribbean heritage – to bring these backyards to life. Indeed, Norman’s legacy helped promote them through the association. “It is a connection to memory, to history and to the continuation of this tradition”, a tradition that she shares with others. From helping revitalize fruit and vegetable crops to bringing some unexpected plants into the backyards of Georgian residents, Norman works wonders. So who better to ask for garden advice than the miracle worker herself? In an exclusive interview with POPSUGAR, Norman shares her tips, struggles, and suggestions regarding gardening. And if there’s something to take with you, it’s A. Soil is key; and B. Patience is a virtue!

Presenter Jamila Norman poses with plants on an Atlanta farm, as featured in Homegrown, Season 1.

When creating your first garden

“I mean, I just start, I’ll say start small. Research, learn, explore. I learned a lot about agriculture and horticulture by reading gardening books, Googling, YouTube University – it was just something in the back of my mind I was passionate so I read a lot. ”

“Then you just know that there will be a lot of failures… the most important thing I think people underestimate is not to cut corners [gardening] in containers, or you fill a rain field [garden]Definitely buy the best soil you can afford because if you go for the cheap stuff, you won’t be growing good vegetables. Then too, when you grow in the soil and use the land you have, you are spending the time really getting compost and cultivating your soil because that is the basis. “

About the best companion plants for your garden

Marigolds: “People always plant marigolds with tomatoes, which have a really strong scent. They help repel insects, as bad insects like to attack tomatoes. Marigolds bring a lot of pollinators too … they’re just beautiful flowers, the butterflies and the bees and all that stuff, and that’s why you want pollination in your garden because that’s how you get more fruit, you know; they pass on the pollen and fertilize the garden. “

Basil: “Basil also goes well with tomatoes; they go well together on a plate, and basil helps tomatoes get spicier.”

Nasturtiums: “Another great companion is nasturtium, another flower. It’s a bit hot. This works really well with pumpkins, cucumbers, or gourds. These all belong to the same family of plants and tend to be attacked by the same beetles and nasturtiums . ”

Plants of the allium family: “A final option is to grow plants from the Allium family, i.e. garlic, onions, galleons, ties, leeks … growing plants with greenery in the same bed saves space and also repels insects that like to attack leafy vegetables such as kale and Broccoli.”

On containers vs. raised beds vs. in the ground

“I think it’s really what you have access to. And then what budget you have, right? If you use containers, like when you stand on a balcony, have a porch, or have a really small space, right? You know, you’re in the concrete jungle, you’re going to build containers, right? Just because you have access to fill it with good soil. Make sure these containers – like potting soil – are made to drain well and not be too compact. When it comes to raised beds … when you’re outdoors or have access to a back yard and you’re wondering, “Should I go in the ground? Should I make raised beds? “It’s more costly to do the raised beds, on the forest, on the ground and all that stuff, but it makes the backend work a lot easier … but if you are budget conscious and want to use the ground, that you have on earth, you can definitely do that – just change that soil. So it really is the budget statics that determines where you are going. “

About recovery from hardships

“I grew a bunch of romaine lettuce this season and they were beautiful! It was the best romaine lettuce I’ve ever grown. The first thing that happened was I got two sites to grow and the deer came.” and I ate every single Romaine so like hundreds of Romaine. That’s one thing, pests can get you. And then my second round of Romaine, I was like, “Okay, this one will be good” and then it got super hot , really fast, and salads do what they call Bolt, so I went from making nice lettuce to saying, ‘Oh my god, I have to grow seeds now’ … it’s just important to understand that the Agriculture is a dynamic process, and ready to change. “

Image Source: Courtesy of Magnolia Network