FALLS CREEK — A Falls Creek woman stumbled onto a passion for gardening and plants when she moved back to the area after nearly a decade.

Joelle Leech moved back home to Falls Creek and found her father and brother had let the backyard garden go to weeds. She decided, for a project, she would fix up the garden. Her dad and brother picked on her, and said she wouldn’t get anything to grow.

Though Leech had never done any kind of gardening before, she finds it fun today. She had some problems getting started, going through about three greenhouses before getting a permanent one.

“Last year, my mom’s friend gave me a little pop-up one, and the wind took it. Then we duct taped it back together to make it savable until the end of the season. Then someone went in and forgot to zipper it, it popped like a balloon. Then we got another one and put it up, and the wind took that one. The new one is permanent in the ground. I hope,” Leech said.

Leech has also been working as a substitute teacher since returning to Falls Creek. While acting as a substitute for an extended period of time, a student brought her some flowers in from outside. As the flowers sat on her desk, she saw how the seeds were released from them over time.

This sparked a new interest in Leech to learn and save seeds from her own plants. One of the reasons Leech believes she likes gardening so much is it gives her a reason to continue learning, something she loves.

“One little boy gave me dandelions, and I kept them by my computer,’ Leech said. “I actually learned how the petals come up and then the seeds are there. So, when I went home I decided I wanted to start finding the seeds on all my flowers, so I did.”

In the three years Leech has been home, she has started growing vegetable and flower plants to sell as starters, the extra harvest she gets from her plants, and seed packets of seeds from her harvest.

The first woman to buy seeds from Leech happened to be someone who used to work in the Walmart Lawn and Garden center. She offered to help make up the seed packets.

This year, she had 47 pumpkin plants left, so she planted them all. She will be selling pumpkins at harvest time because of the abundance of extra plants.

“We’ll either sell lots of pumpkins or have lots of decoration,” Leech said.

Through research, Leech learns how to get seeds from other local flowers she finds, and likes. She said she also likes to try growing a new plant each year, to give her a reason to keep researching and learning.

“I think it helps that I like to learn, so it was like the more I was learning I was having fun with it,” Leech said.

Leech decided she wanted to try growing day lilies, and has found it more difficult than she expected. She has tried to grow day lilies several times now from seeds she picked.

“This year my brother actually helped me. He started them on paper towels, but it still took them a couple months before they even sprouted,” Leech said. “Those we had to look up a lot of stuff, they were finicky.”

She is excited that this year, they seem to be growing. They should be ready to bloom for the first time in two years.

Her plants can be found on Joelle’s Greens on Facebook, and she regularly posts in DuBoisLIVE and similar pages around the area.

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