Meet the mother-and-son duo taking over plant-tok, one gardening tip at a time.
On Tuesdays and Sundays, Mama Judy and her son, Thong record TikToks. The duo currently has 706.2K followers and grows bigger every day. On her platform, Mama Judy shares her passion project — a garden that she’s meticulously tended to for over 25 years now.
According to Thong, Mama Judy is a natural content creator who never runs out of ideas. Every now and then, he’ll observe her in the garden recording her own content. He says that sometimes she’s so eager to get the ball rolling she starts recording without him, simply telling him, “You took too long.”
When Mama Judy isn’t teaching the world wide web how to grow strawberries from seeds or propagate carrot tops, she’s a full-time nail tech. Her garden is where she spends her free time, caring for her thriving fruits and vegetables she affectionately refers to as her kids. You can find her there almost any day of the week tending to her plants hanging out with her pals, The Three Geese, and her rescue pup, Diamond.
I sat down with Mama Judy and Thong to talk about TikTok, their shared love of gardening, and all the tips and tricks.
by Caitlin Rounds
Tell us about yourselves.
Thong: Mom has a passion for gardening, she always has. She does it part-time, recreationally — until last year when she wanted to join YouTube. I was like ‘YouTube is really competitive, mom — but TikTok is hot right now.’ So, I said ‘Mom, how about we record and we’ll shoot every week, and we can show the world your hobby,’ and that’s how we got started on TikTok.
I watch your Tik Tok daily — big fan. Mama Judy, what has it been like to share your hobby with the internet and teach others about gardening?
Thong: I’ve definitely noticed that mom is happier since we’ve started the whole TikTok thing. She loves her kids and we all are grown now and have moved away. Her garden is where she spends most of her time now, her plants are her kids. She gets to share her passion. Sometimes I catch mom reading the [TikTok] comments, smiling.
I feel happy and motivated to try new things and share it with my audience.Mama Judy
Thong, what has it been like to create content together?
Thong: It’s family time pretty much. I work full-time and mom works full-time. So creating a schedule to record is creating a schedule to see and spend time with each other. Mom actually lives down the street so I can see her from my window.
What strengthens your bond as mother and son?
Thong: I guess we’ve always had a bond because I’m the favorite child. Right, mom?
Thong: Hopefully my siblings don’t see this. But seriously, we’ve always had a bond. c I visit her and we get to see each other and spend some time and record some content. We try not to make it a business thing but more of a mother-and-son thing.
Mama Judy, how did you learn all of your gardening skills — all of your tips and tricks?
Mama Judy: I learned when I was little and my grandma would send me into town. I saw people growing their own vegetables and I learned.
Tell us about your garden pals, Diamond and The Three Geese.
Thong: Diamond is pretty much mom’s best friend.
Mama Judy: She follows me everywhere I go. Even if it’s cold or hot outside, she’ll still follow me.
Recreationalist: What about the geese?
Thong: They’re a new addition. Mom got them a couple of months ago. The neighbors were taking her fruits and vegetables, she needed security. She loves animals so she decided to get geese.
Mama Judy: The geese are having a baby! I think in about two more months they will have the baby.
Mama Judy, do you have any advice for those who want to start their own garden?
Mama Judy: Just start. If you want to do it, just do it — don’t wait. It’s also easier to plant in a pot because you can move it around and find the best spot for it. Don’t forget the drainage holes!
Judy Bao is an avid gardener on a mission to share her tips and tricks related to gardening. You can keep up with Mama Judy @judybaogarden.
Edited by Rey Joaquin. Featured photos courtesy of Thong La.