About Me

I'm Christopher Tidrick, a transplanted East Coast city boy now living with my wife and son in Champaign, Illlinois, surrounded by countless acres of the most fertile cropland in the country. I make a living outside the garden, but my personal passion lies in the soil. Quite simply, I am from the soil. I am a gardener, writer and photographer, but all three of these endeavors stem from my connection with the soil. There is no time where I feel more myself than when my hands are caked with the dirt of this quarter-acre plot we call home. My garden is my sanctuary. It is where I find myself, my beginning and my eventual end. The soil allows me to be one with it, without judgment.

I've thought a great deal about why I am so drawn to the soil. And each time I come back to my childhood memories of being in my grandparents' garden in Connecticut. My grandfather toiled in a large vegetable garden each summer that was planted in one corner of their one-acre yard. He grew pumpkins and peppers, cantaloupe and watermelons. But his true pride were the deliciously red tomatoes and fresh ears of corn that graced our summer picnic tables. My grandmother focused her gardening passions on her rose garden right next to their back patio. Her Mr. Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and other rose varieties filled the patio with wonderful fragrance and often found a way into vases throughout their large, sprawling house.

That's me on the left, standing with my older brother, holding a flower and squash from my grandparents' garden. From the day we could walk, my brother and I were out in their gardens, learning all about how to plant seeds, when to pick a squash, or how to tell the difference between good and bad bugs. I can fondly remember helping my grandmother pick Japanese beetles off her roses and dropping them in buckets of soapy water. (As an aside, when Japanese beetles invaded the Midwest a few years ago, I was more than ready for the fight.)

Between the time my grandparents moved back to their Midwest roots in the mid-1980s and the time my wife and I purchased our first (and current) home in 2000, I didn't have the opportunity to garden much, aside from a few small containers on rental patios. When we first looked at this property in February 2000, I saw the potential to finally have a place to grow my garden in my soil. When we closed on the sale in April, few boxes were unpacked before I started to dig and I haven't stopped since.

The previous owner was an avid gardener and wildlife lover, so the gardens were more developed than the average subdivision plot, but in the decade since, I've transformed virtually every corner of the property to where it no longer resembles much of its original state.

This blog, From the Soil, is my life's journal, inextricably intertwined with my connection to the earth. In it, I share my thoughts on the plants, wildlife -- and people -- who share this connection with me. To me, the beauty that comes from the soil is often indescribable, so I also share the view through my camera's lens where my words fail to convey its truth. I hope that my writing and photography adequately capture my experiences as walk along this journey, my hands dirty, my eyes filled with beauty, and my mind humbled with wonder at all that comes from the soil.

I welcome your thoughts and comments. The wealth of knowledge and compassion that I've discovered among my fellow gardeners is astounding.

Feel free to contact me at fromthesoilblog@gmail.com.