Monday, July 5, 2010

TOMATOES, THE FIRST PRUNING

I transplanted my tomatoes during the Memorial Day weekend.  Now, a month later I have just completed the
job of pruning and training the tomato plants to my trellis system.  This critical step is now part of my yearly
ritual.  Due to some recent experience with rainy growing seasons and early blight I have adopted a few new
procedures which helps to both reduce the likelihood of getting early blight and make it easier to cope with
the disease if it does occur

When I transplant my seedlings to the garden I give them a good head start by applying 3 tablespoons of
Espoma Tomato Tone.  This is the third year I have used this product and I believe that it makes a difference.
In addition, I use a red plastic mulch which encourages healthy growth and greater production by reflecting
a distinct red light wave up into the tomato plant's canopy.  It also helps reduce dirt splash up onto the plant.
Early blight spores live in the soil  so reducing splash up is a good thing.

I now grow my tomatoes in single rows with low growing neighbors like squash, zucchini, cucumbers
and peppers in the same bed.  I also train my tomatoes to a trellis that I erect after transplanting.  I weave
tomato twine onto the trellis and use special tomato clips to hold up the vines.  Check out the photos
below.  Take a close look at the before and after shots.  In the photo to the right you will notice that all of the bottom leaves have been removed.  Also, the plant has been pruned to three branches which will be the primary structure  of the plant over the growing season.  I will pinch out any suckers that emerge in the
coming weeks and cut off the growing tips once the plant reaches the top of the trellis.
All the best,
Greg

Monday, June 28, 2010

NEW TENANTS IN THE GARDEN

JUNE 26, 2010   5:00 AM
It's Saturday.  I bound out of bed eager to begin another day of "full contact" vegetable gardening.
I gather up my breakfast and head for the patio in the vegetable garden.  One of the best features
of this particular time of year is the early dawn.  I get to enjoy the music of the birds before the noise
of cars and lawn tractors drowns them out.

I have another reason for going out to the garden;  raspberry season has arrived two weeks' early.
As I enter the garden, I hear a load chirp and some rustling in the apple trees lining the back of the
garden.  It sounds like I just spooked a bird of some sort.  I pick my raspberries and sit down at
the table on the patio in the middle of my garden to enjoy my breakfast and the symphony of the
birds.

After a few minutes, I am conscious of more rustling in the apple trees.  I look up. I think that I
see something, but I'm not sure what I'm looking at.  I stand up to get a better look.  I am now
eye to eye with a mother robin.  It dawns on me that she has made a nest in one of my espaliered
apple trees.  Cool.  Life in the country is great.
All the best,
Greg

Sunday, June 27, 2010

IT'S BEEN A WHILE

What a busy couple of months.  May and June have been packed with garden chores, yard work, family
gatherings and coping with modern life.  Among a long list of items that failed in the last two months was my
home computer.  I was without for three weeks.  We are back up and running.

So much has happened in the garden over the last couple of months I hardly know where to begin.  We did have
a mild spring which made growing some crops easy.  Lettuce has been outstanding.  In addition to several
mesclun mixes we have enjoyed two great butterhead type lettuces;  A French heirloom called Sanguine Ameloire
and a European heirloom called Yugoslavian Red.  Check out the pictures below.


























The garlic is doing fine.  We harvested garlic scapes two weeks ago.  Nice garlic taste to use raw in salads
in stir fries and sautes.  We began growing garlic three years ago and we feel that fresh homegrown garlic is far
superior to that you will find in a super market.  The scapes appear in the spring.  They grow out of the top of the
garlic plant and must be removed so that they don't take too much energy away from the garlic heads growing
underground.




The garden is now fully planted.   This year seemed to be a struggle to get everything done on time.  Like a fool,
I expand a little every year.  My garden could be a full time job.  Wait a minute, it is a full time job.  Looking forward to retirement in three years.  That's all for now.
All the best,
Greg

Thursday, April 29, 2010

WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN APRIL 29, 2010

Spring in my little corner of heaven has been unusually pleasant.  Temperatures have been moderate with a
couple of exceptions and we have been blessed with some sunny weather.  Compared to last year, the vegetable
garden is doing quite well.  We have been enjoying lettuce that overwintered in the cold frame.  It is a combination of mescluns; All American Mix from Johnny's Selected Seeds and Provencal Mix from
The Cook's Garden.  These two varieties have provided us with a mix of mild and tangy.  We have become
big fans of tangy greens.  Our lettuce transplants are finally happy in their
new home.  Spinach and mesclun direct seeded in the lettuce patch are
up.  This 4x4 patch will give us plenty of greens for over a month.  In addition, I transplanted lettuce seedlings to another part of the garden
that will give us an additional two weeks.  This will keep going until Thanksgiving.  In about two weeks we won't need to purchase greens
for eight months.




We've got kale seedlings in the ground, broccoli seedlings and cabbage seedling almost ready to transplant.
We received leek plants and shallots which are now in the ground.  Check out the garlic patch in the photo
below.  We have been building up the number of cloves planted from the original 35 we received when we
bought seed garlic 3 years ago to the 60 we planted in October.  The goal is to plant enough so that we never have to buy garlic again.  My wife Catherine loves the garlic we grow in garden.  She likes the ease of peeling, the moist firmness of the cloves and the mild, fresh taste.  This is one vegetable well worth growing.


May we have a drum roll please?  The really big
announcement is that asparagus season has begun.
For us, this is bigger than Easter.  We will enjoy this
wonderful vegetable for about two months.  I always
cook a nice dinner on Mother's Day and it always features our own fresh picked asparagus.  Catherine found a recipe for pasta with asparagus, fresh peas and
progiuto.  Can't wait.  Speaking of peas, ours are up and doing very well.  They have company.  We discovered fava beans and now grow them with our peas.  They should be ready to eat about
the 4th of July.  


I have planted carrot seeds and beet seeds but they are not up yet.
Radishes planted three weeks ago are looking good and starting to
bulb up.  Just received 3 batches of onion plants.  With help from
Catherine I will plant those tomorrow after work.


Potatoes have been in the ground almost two weeks but not yet emerged.  We like fingerling potatoes and have planted a varitey
called "French Fingerlings".  They have beige skin and pinkish flesh.  I'll let you know how they taste sometime in July.


I could go on and on, but need to sign off for now.  If you have any
questions or comments please contact me at gcgarnache@gmail.com.
All the best,
Greg

Sunday, April 18, 2010

BENEFICIAL NEMATODES

One of the most challenging aspects of vegetable gardening is the vast assortment of insects and diseases that Mother Nature introduces to your garden each year.  Over the years I have tried various chemical treatments,
sticky traps, soapy sprays and home remedies.  More recently, I have discovered a natural way to fight back.
My new weapon? BENEFICIAL NEMATODES!  These are microscopic parasitic worms that seek out grubs
in the soil.  I have discovered that most of the worst garden pests spend part of their life cycle as grubs in the
soil in your garden. When introduced to the soil the nematodes seek out grubs, enter their bodies, inject a
lethal dose of bacteria and then eat them.  Bravo! Way to go 'tode!


Among the pests which have reeked havoc in my garden are; asparagus beetles, squash bugs, squash borers,
potato beetles, corn worms, cabbage worms, coddling moths, tomato horn worms and aphids. Most of these
insects have a grub stage.  Hopefully, my nematode buddies will find and destroy these nasty creatures.

I have received nematodes from a number of sources over the last four years.  This year, I bought nematodes
from a company called March Biological Control.  Their price seemed fair compared with the competition.
1 million nematodes, enough to treat 3000 square feet, cost me $15.50.  Postage was an additional $16.25.
The postage paid for FEDEX 2 day air.  This is very important because nematodes are living creatures
that are sensitive to moisture and temperature stress.  The nematodes arrived on a sponge surrounded by
plastic.  Accompanying the nematodes was a freezer gel pack.  Nice touch.  March Biological Control is
the only company that I have bought nematodes from that has taken these precautions.  In addition, I received
a "heads up" email alerting me to the shipment and advising me to keep the container out of the sun and
to put the container in the refrigerator.

Application is relatively easy.  I squeezed the sponge into a 2 gallon bucket of water to release the nematodes.
I then added a couple of cups of the nematode water to every watering can full of water and applied to all
of my vegetable beds.  I also applied nematodes to the ground around some of my apple trees.  I will report
on the results periodically over the course of the gardening season.  Check this out.
All the best,
Greg

Saturday, April 10, 2010

CROP ROTATION - THE FOUR CROP METHOD

Back in the 1990's I was an average gardener trying to work out the basic issues, plot layout, which crops
to plant together, which crops to keep away from each other, what to feed my crops, what to do about
insect infestations.  Let's face it, I was confused.  Enlightenment came in the form of an article I read in a
gardening magazine (Organic Gardening?).  It was about the concept of crop rotation and its importance
to successful vegetable gardening.  This article changed my life.

As I recall, the author was a small scale commercial farmer.  She had worked out a simple, manageable
system that anyone could implement in their home garden.  The key to her approach was to organize
your crops into four basic groups: legumes, leaf crops, fruit crops, and root crops.  This works best if
you can divide your garden into fourths.  I've got 16 beds in my basic rotation and this works very well
for me.  An important thing to remember is to keep like vegetables together in the same bed.
At left is a typical leaf crop bed.  There are various lettuce varieties,
cabbage, broccoli and spinach in this bed.  The photo was taken in early
May in 2007.

Now that we have our garden layout organized around a four crop rotation
we can now consider soil amendments and nutrition.  One of the benefits of
legume crops is that they add nitrogen to the soil.  Leaf crops love nitrogen.
That's why leaf crops follow legumes.  It's genius!  At the end of the legume
season you can prepare this bed for all of the crops to follow by adding two
soil amendments; green sand and rock phosphate.  Rock phosphate is rich

in phosphorous a key element in growing healthy tomatoes, peppers and other fruit crops.  It takes a good
year to break down in the soil so that it can be used by the plants.  That's why you want to add it now.
Green sand has potassium which is needed for healthy root crops.  Green sand takes about two years to
break down in the soil, just in time for your root crop rotation.  In addition to these amendments, I plant
a green manure crop in the legume bed in the fall.  This will add more nitrogen to the soil and organic matter
when the crop is tilled into the soil in the spring.  In the spring I will add some compost to the soil before
I till.

One additional benefit to crop rotation is that moving your crops to a different bed every year confuses
the insects that prey on your vegetables.  It doesn't eliminate the problem entirely.  However, it does
help.  There will be more on garden insects in future posts.
All the best,
Greg

Saturday, March 27, 2010

BUILDING A PLANT STAND

About fifteen years ago I began starting various vegetable seeds
indoors.  What made this possible was the plant stand I built from
a sketch found by my Dad in a stack of old handyman magazines
he found at a yard sale.  This is a very simple design that can be
disassembled and stored away at the end of the seed starting
season.  Check out the drawings below for more details.  If you
still can't figure out how to put this together, send me an email and
I will be happy to walk you through it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

FAVA BEANS

On the same day that I planted peas I also planted a row of fava beans.  My wife Catherine has been after me for years to grow fava's ever since we saw the movie "Silence of the Lambs".  There is a scene in the film
between the character played by Jodie Foster and Hannibal Lector in which Hannibal recalls eating the liver
of one of his victims with some fava beans and a good chianti.  In Europe, fava beans are quite popular.  Each bean
is rather large (about 1" in diameter) and flat, somewhat like a lima bean.  The beans come encased in a pod
lined with fuzz.  In addition, each bean is wrapped in it's own little protective skin.  The pods stick straight up on the plants and make for a rather unusual site in the garden.

Fava beans are susceptible to leaf blackening which is a virus spread by aphids.  Control the aphids and your
fava beans will be fine.  I use a product called Safer Insect Soap.  It is approved for use in organic farming.

OK, so how do they taste?  Fava beans are great side dish with just about any meat or fish. This flavorful bean needs just a saute with olive oil and garlic.
 Very simple, very tasty.  As I mentioned above, start your fava beans at the same time you plant
your peas.  It is great to have two legume choices so early in the season.  Follow the directions on the
seed packet.  Make sure to begin spraying for aphids as soon as the plants are 6" tall and continue to spray once a week until the end of the harvest.

All the best,
Greg

Thursday, March 25, 2010

PLANTING PEAS

Spring is actually here.  I celebrated that fact by planting the season's first peas.  Peas are one of the best crops to eat fresh
from the garden.  If you are a home vegetable gardener and you
haven't experienced the taste and sweetness of garden fresh peas
do yourself a favor and give them a try.  Growing peas is relatively
simple.  Plant as early as you can in the Spring.  I make a trench
about 3 inches deep and about the width of a hoe.  I first apply
a layer of bone meal to feed the peas.  Then I plant the peas.  I
use an entire packet (375 seeds in a 15 foot long row.  I don't
get anal about the placement of the peas.  I just try to space them
about 1" apart.  Next, I water the trench enough to wet all of the
peas.  The final step before covering the seeds is to sprinkle a
granular inoculant over the seeds.  This provides active live
bacteria which improves yield.  I cover the soil, give the trench
another drenching of water and wait patiently for the seedlings to
emerge.

As you can see from the picture, I have driven some metal fence posts into the ground.  When the seedlings
start to grow I will hang "pea trellis" from the fence posts to support the pea vines.  The variety that I planted
is called CASELOAD and was purchased from Johnny's Selected seeds.  The peas were planted on March
18.  In the twenty years that I have been growing vegetables this is the earliest that I've ever started peas.
I will plant a second crop in about two weeks.  Put some seeds in the ground my friends.
All the best,
Greg

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

SEED STARTING, THE SEASON'S FIRST LEAF CROPS

GARDEN JOURNAL: February 24, 2010.  
Started the following seeds last Saturday:
BLACK SEEDED SIMPSON lettuce
MARVEL OF FOUR SEASONS lettuce
WINTER DENSITY romaine lettuce
TENDERCROP early cabbage
PACKMAN broccoli
RED RUSSIAN kale
WINTERBOR kale

All of these varieties are well suited for early season cultivation in my Zone 6 New England garden. I've been growing Black Seeded Simpson since the early 1990's because it does so well in April and early May.   As you can see from the photo I planted
the seeds in 9 cell containers set in an 11" x 22" tray.  After covering the seeds with a 1/8" layer of seed starting medium and
watering them I covered the tray with a clear plastic dome to retain moisture.  I then put them on the bottom row of my plant
stand under a row of shop lites.  Lettuce, cabbage and kale seem to germinate better when exposed to light
right from the start.  It's been my experience that germination can happen within days.  If there is no light
when the seeds pop out of the soil they will become leggy very quickly and you will have to start over again.

Seeds planted four days ago are starting to emerge.
It happens this fast with leaf crops.  In a couple of
days I'll add some liquid nitrogen fertilizer to my
watering can to give the seedlings a boost.  I love
it.  This will never get old.  Of course, the show
is just getting started.  In the next few weeks, I
will plant hundreds of seeds.  There will be more
leaf crops, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and flowers.  All of these seeds will begin their lives under lights on my plant stand.  I will show you
how to build your own plant stand on my next
post.  Until then, start some seeds of your own.
All the best,
Greg

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

THE GROWING SEASON BEGINS

The 2010 vegetable gardening season is officially under way in my house.  First honors went to our
favorite member of the onion family, leeks.  Leeks purchased at the market are expensive.  A bundle of
three usually costs in excess of $3.00.  For the same price you can purchase a packet containing 350
seeds.  I like that kind of payback. 

The seeds were started in a 72 cell tray.  Two or three seeds  were
placed in each cell and covered with a 1/4" potting soil.  The tray was
watered and a clear plastic dome was placed over the tray to help keep the seeds moist.  I then placed the tray on a heat mat with a thin barrier
of cloth to help moderate the heat.  Optimum soil temperature is 75
degrees.  In about 10 days the young plants will begin to emerge.  I
will then pick the healthiest plant in each cell and cut the rest.

Leeks are relatively easy to grow.  In late May the seedlings will
be large enough to be transplanted to the garden and the weather will warm up enough to provide the
best conditions for planting.  I use a dibble to make a hole in the ground, pour in a teaspoon full of
organic fertilizer and drop the seedling in the hole.  I make holes every 6 inches in all directions.  From
then on it is just a matter of keeping the leek patch watered and weeded.  Like onions, leeks don't like
competition.  We begin to harvest leeks in late September and continue to harvest until the ground freezes.   Whatever leeks we don't use will overwinter and be harvested in the spring.

The variety that I planted is noted for it's ability to overwinter successfully.  It is called BANDIT and was purchased from Johnny's
Selected Seeds.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

FAVORITE SEED CATALOGS PART TWO

About this time last year someone was kind enough to give me a copy of "From the Cook's Garden",a cookbook compiled from recipes first published in The Cook's Garden Catalogue. I have to say that
I was a bit embarrassed that I had never heard of  The Cook's Garden Catalogue.  As soon as I got home
I went on line and ordered a copy.  What a pleasant surprise.  This catalog features many seeds from
Europe, especially France.  Varieties are chosen primarily for their culinary appeal.  I went on a seed
binge and ordered a dozen packets without reservation.  For the most part, I have not been disappointed.

Over the last several years, my wife and I have been experimenting with growing beans for drying.  Many
of the bean seeds we have planted have come from the Vermont Bean Seed Company from Randolf,
Wisconsin.  We have tried Vermont Cranberry, Black Coco, Dixie Speckled Butter Pea and Peregion.
The Peregion has become a favorite.  This year we are going to try Brown Dutch.

I'm not one to order plants from seed companies, but I had a very good experience ordering herb
seedlings from The Natural Gardening Company.  They also sell seeds.  However, they really get it
with regard to shipping tender seedlings across country.  I have never had product arrive in such
good shape as I did from these folks.   David Baldwin, the owner of The Natural Gardening Company
starts every catalog with a letter from him, sharing his philosophy and emphasizing his commitment to
quality products and service.  I don't purchase from this catalog as heavily as I do from Johnny's, but
I try to support what this company stands for.  One of the nice things about dealing with most seed
companies is that you are supporting a small business run by committed human beings. 

Three other seed companies are worthy of mention:  Park Seed, Jung Seeds and Plants and
Totally Tomatoes.  Park Seeds will occasionally spark my interest with a unique cucumber or
melon variety.  My wife has been known to order flower seeds from them as well.  It is also noteworthy
that Parks Seed website now contains helpful gardening tips.  In the past 3 years I have switched
from starting my own onion seeds to ordering plants from Jung Seeds and Plants.  Their prices are
competitive and the results have been fine.  Totally Tomatoes, yeah the name sort of gives them
away.  Actually, they also have a comprehensive collection of pepper seeds and a smattering of other
vegetables.  If you are a tomato lover, you should have this catalog.

I hope that you have found these comments helpful and wish you a very successful gardening year.  The
growing season starts this week, at least for me.  I will be starting leek seeds indoors, under the lights.
My next posts will cover this event and include information on how to build your own light stand.
Until next time, all the best:
Greg

Saturday, February 6, 2010

FAVORITE SEED CATALOGS PART ONE

One of my favorite gardening related activities is browsing through the many seed catalogs that
come my way every year right after the holidays. Johnny's Selected Seeds has been my "go to"
source for over twenty years. Rob Johnston and Janika Eckert, the founders of Johnny's are
expert seed developers. They have some AAS winners among the many varieties they have
introduced to the gardening community. Some of my favorites are Kabocha squash, Yankee
Bell pepper, Diva cucumbers and Racer pumpkins. Of all the catalogs I do receive Johnny's has
the best instructions about starting seeds, planting in the field and dealing with insects and
diseases. Johnny's is also 150 miles north of my garden. My experience has been if they can
grow it at Johnny's it will do just fine at my house.

For many years I resisted ordering from Burpee. After all, I was a "Johnny's" man. I have
to admit that the good folks at Burpee put out a pretty good catalog with great photos and
well written descriptions. In the last five years I've become a fan and order at least a half
dozen packets of seeds every year. I especially love many of the tomato varieties they offer. Two of my favorites are Tangerine orange tomato and Red Lightening tomato. Also, Burpee has
the best deal on 4" plastic plant labels, 50 for $4.75 and $3.95 for each additional package.
My one fault with the Burpee catalog is the lack of growing information accompanying each
section.

The West Coast counterpart to Johnny's is Territorial Seed Company in Cottage Grove,
Oregon. The information they provide about growing different vegetables is excellent.
Territorial's growning tips about onions made a huge difference in the size and overall
yield of last year's crop. In addition, I am a big fan of Territorial's Complete Fertilizer,
especially for growing root crops. They have lots of tomato and pepper varieties to choose
from and do a very good job with leaf crops.

New to me this year was a catalog from Abundant Life Seeds. They are now affiliated with
Territorial Seed Company which is probably why I ended up on their mailing list. This is
an interesting company dedicated to the mission of preserving older seed varieties and
offering Organic, Biodynamic and sustainably grown seed to the public. They suffered through
a fire which nearly wiped out thirty five years of hard work. The company is now on their
feet again and offering a catalog full of interesting varieties. I bring this up because the arrival
of this catalog has reunited me with one of my favorite heirloom lettuce varieties of all time,
Sanguine Ameloire. I used to purchase seeds from Territorial. All of a sudden, this variety
disappeared. Now I know why. I'm thrilled to be able to grow this variety once again and
wish all the best to the hard working folks at Abundant Life Seeds.

Monday, February 1, 2010

NEW YEAR'S DAY IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN


My first official gardening task of the New Year was to harvest the last of the Brussels Sprouts.Now in my fourth year of growing this tasty vegetable, I can't imagine a gardening season without them. Brussels Sprouts are easy to grow with few issues. The most annoying problem is cabbage worms. It seems ironic that the favorite snack of the cabbage worm is not cabbage,but brussels sprouts. I have used a spray in the past to control this pest. However, this year the infestation did not begin to occur until the end of October. I was able to pick them off by hand until the weather turned cold enough to put an end to their party.


Brussels sprouts are in the cabbage family so I treat them about the same. The major difference is that the seeds don't get started until May 1st. After six weeks the seedlings are ready for the garden. As with cabbage I always surround the young seedling with a cutworm collar made from recycled yogurt containers. Being a leaf crop brussels sprouts need regular feedingsof a nitrogen rich fertilizer. It is best to stake the plants as they get tall and lanky over the course of the summer.The best time to harvest brussels sprouts is in the late fall and early winter. A hard frost or two takes some of the bitterness out of the vegetable. If picked at just the right size, about one inch in diameter, brussels sprouts can be one of the garden's best treats. When it comes to vegetables fresh is best. In late fall and early winter brussels sprouts are the star of the show.


What first attracted me to brussels sprouts was the prospect of extending the harvest season into winter. I take pride in the fact that I was able to go out to my New England garden on a snowy New Year's Day and pick some fresh veggies to enjoy with my family.


Brussels sprouts are a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. As I mentioned previously, we serve them at Thanksgiving as a side dish roasted in the oven and tossed with roasted pecans and dried cranberries. Roasting brings out a nutty quality in the sprouts. They pair well with pork in stir fries as well as in a simple saute with olive oil and garlic. We've eaten them raw, shredded in a salad with celery root and bulb fennel. They also freeze well. That's all for now.

All the best,

Greg


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Why Grow Your Own Vegetables

Why do I grow my own vegetables and why do I want to write about it? The simple answer to these questions is that I get a great deal of pleasure from growing my own food and sharing it with friends and family. I can't imagine a life without gardening.

Vegetable gardening can be hard, lonely, tedious and frustrating. Mother nature is often a cruel partner. However, the rewards far outweigh the cost. Spending more time outside breathing fresh air is a reward in and of  itself.  It's a pleasure to do something physical, to work with my hands, to coax the earth to do my bidding.

I have to admit that I am still in awe of the magic created by the act of putting a seed in the ground, watching it emerge and developing into something good to eat. Every year I can't wait to get the growing season started. It begins with the arrival of the seed catalogs, just after Christmas. If you're old enough to remember receiving the Sears Christmas Catalog when you were a child, then you can get a sense for the level of my excitement as I scan each catalog in search of some new hybrid tomato or an easy to grow melon.

Planning the new garden, ordering seeds, creating a seed starting schedule; these are all activities that keep me thinking of spring while the snow falls and the wind howls outside. To see a tray full of young healthy seedlings growing under the lights during the bleak months does wonders for the soul.

Once the gardening season moves outdoors I am in heaven. The smell of the earth, the warm feeling of the sun, the very act of planting seeds in the ground are tasks filled with hope and optimizium. Harvesting begins in April with the emergence of asparagus. We harvest asparagus almost every day for two months. Nobody eats better than we do.

The first peas are cause for celebration. Home grown, fresh off the vine, sweet and tender; this is what I'm talking about. These celebrations are repeated with each vegetable that comes into it's season.

As summer approaches our focus turns to entertaining. The garden surrounds a patio which is the site of many memorable dinner parties with family and friends. We live for these occasions. We mix flowers with the vegetables and border the garden with fruit trees and berry bushes. It is dining in the Garden of Eden. This is the best reason to grow your own vegetables. Sharing the best food you can eat with your favorite people is what life is all about.

Most chefs will tell you that fresh is best. That is most definitely true for crops like peas, haricot vert, celery, corn, beets, carrots, asparagus, tomatoes, and leaf crops. When you grow your own you can pick fresh minutes before you eat, knowing that your vegetables are not laden with chemicals. Given the frequency of tainted vegetables in the marketplace I am so happy to able to eat my own healthy, clean, and tasty crops.

I've been gardening for nearly twenty five years. In recent years I have been asked frequently to offer advice to friends and acquaintances about gardening related issues. This is an encouraging trend. For many years I labored alone, the only person I knew who gardened. Now, everybody wants to garden. This blog is a response to that interest. If you are already a gardener or an aspiring gardener I intend to share my knowledge and experience with you. I don't know everything. Infact, there is a lot I don't know. Please feel free to share your knowledge with me. My intention is to post at least once a week throughout the season. Future posts will include essays on this year's winter harvest, seed starting, tips for growing tomatoes, crop rotation, composting, soil amendments, and how to grow specific vegetables. In future posts I will include photos. Stay tuned.
Welcome.
All the best,
Greg