Southside Roots

By Greg Seiter

It’s a dirty job, but she’s happy to do it.

In fact, Carol Michel loves dirt to the extent that she has made a career of playing and working in it, writing about her experiences and giving advice to others through presentations. Her area of focus, as it relates to dirt, is gardening, a topic she has embraced since her childhood in Greenwood.

“My dad always had a garden, and I enjoyed helping him out there,” she says. “I think I started gardening at the age of 2.”

Now a published author and public speaker, the Indianapolis resident’s  interest in gardening ultimately drew her to undergraduate pursuits at Purdue University. “I went there to get a degree in horticulture, but I quickly realized I wouldn’t make much money in that field,” she says. “I was also good at computer programming, so I ended up in information technology.”

Michel spent 33 years working with computers but continued to garden along the way. Finally, before retiring from her profession, Michel launched her own gardening blog,  The blog developed a strong following. “It was popular; after I retired, I turned my writing into books,” she says.

Her first publication, “Potted and Pruned: Living a Gardening Life,” received the 2018 Garden Media Gold Award for Best Book from The Association of Garden Communicators. Michel authored another book, “Homegrown and Handpicked: A Year in a Gardening Life,” in 2018.

A self-proclaimed humorist, she expects to launch a third book, “Seeded and Sodded: Thoughts from a Gardening Life,” this year. “I like to think humor is a reflection of my personality. In fact, I use humor in most of my talks,” she says. “You have to go with what you got. I don’t think I can speak without humor.”

Michel has one other claim to fame. She has what she describes as the world’s largest hoe collection, which features somewhere between 60 and 70 pieces. The collection is stored mostly on hooks in her garage. “Sometimes people think they’ve discovered the world’s greatest hoe so they send it to me and want me to try it out. That’s how my collection continues to grow,” she says. “I also have a fairly large collection of old gardening books.”

Ultimately, gardening seems to be therapeutic for her. “You take a tiny seed, plant it, and it grows. The next thing you know you have tomatoes coming out of your ears,” she says. “I just can’t think of a better place to be than in a garden.”