A few days ago, my gardening buddies and I visited a local farm and our new friend Alan Gorkin.
Alan, is an amazing source of knowledge about one of my favorite subjects, organic gardening.
Like a true green gardener he is happy to share his wisdom.
In the greenhouse we discussed his favorite concoction of vitamins and minerals sprayed on the vegetables once a week, to help them grow strong and defend against creatures that want to harm them before they make it to the dinner table.
He had lots of seedlings sown in the greenhouse, preparing them for the tough world of summer heat, disease and insects. The greenhouse is kept as clean as a surgical facility.
At this time of year, I sow seeds directly into the garden beds, but they are much tougher to monitor, and easily overlooked, as I tend to all the bigger plants crying out for attention.
In the foreground are the tomato contraptions they are experimenting with this year. The tomatoes are entwined up a string as they grow, with any offshoots removed. The cage is weighted by steel prongs holding bamboo poles. I can’t wait to see how this performs come August. Thirty plants are going to reap a mountain of happiness to a lot of people.
From this intimate, very beautiful garden the farm supplies the greens to 15 families.
or sit here and munch figs with a glass of wine when the gardening day is done.
Alan paired Broccoli with scallions to discourage the ever pesky cabbage looper.This robust, pale green caterpillar is only 2″ long but a voracious eater of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, just about everything we grow here in the north east. Floating row covers are a nice shield from the cabbage moth who lays between 300 and 600 eggs on our vegetables, but mine are still tucked away in the garage.
I referred to one of my favorite books, Great Garden Companions, and the author suggested growing nectar producing flowers such as calendula and english daisies amongst these crops.
Who doesn’t love sweetpeas!
When heat overcomes these cool temp lovers, various gourds and squash are slated to fill in and adorn the arbor come fall.
This is a plant I have never seen before called Sargent’s Hydrangea. I can’t wait to see what the flower looks like. The leaves are beautiful, covered with a fine pinkish red fuzz.
Alan inspired me to change my ways. Instead of sowing the seed directly into the garden at this time of year, when blazing days make it challenging to coddle tender seedlings, I went home and sowed seeds into trays in the comfort of my kitchen.
I purchased beautiful packets of seeds from Agrarian, William Sonoma’s new venture into encouraging homegrown produce. The seeds are heirlooms from the Beekman Farm of 1802. They have not been tampered with (genetically modified) like so many seeds on the market today. These are the pure seeds that our great grandaddies used to grow and feed the community.
I feel like a kid in a candy store when I plant seeds; there is so much potential, so much life in these tiny seeds. The tomato seed looks like flecks of dust, but if I take care of them, and maybe even take the trouble to mix up some of Alan’s secret tonic, we might be rewarded with a mighty harvest that will feed a multitude.