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Thursday, October 30, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 7/9/2014

IN THE GARDEN

Blooming good times

Vining garden; Feast for friends

BY KELLY HEIDBREDER
GARDENING COLUMNIST FOR THE BLADE
Kelly Heidbreder Kelly Heidbreder
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“I grow lots of things in my garden, but I grow weeds really well.” By day, Gary Lance carries a WTVG-TV, Channel 13, camera on his shoulder. At home he carries bushels of vegetables out of his garden. He’s being modest when he complains about weeds. His two gardens are blooming with vegetables.

“I’ve grown vegetables all my life, I think. It is just part of the summer. But I’m usually the only one in my family that eats most of it,” he explains.

Lance has been growing a vegetable garden in his backyard for over 25 years so he knows what works on his property in Whitehouse.

He has heavy clay soil and says it get hard as a rock. “It gets really hard when it is dry so I try to toss some compost in there to break it up.” He doesn’t have an irrigation system set up, he let’s mother nature help with the watering and occasionally will water the smaller garden with the hose.

Since he has a lot of sun, he separates his garden into two sections. “I have A small plant garden that’s about 30 by 30.” He grows plants that stay compact in this space. There’s a lot of activity in this bed right now. The peas are starting to vine, cabbage is just starting to head out, and the tomatoes are flowering.

“I am already pulling green peppers, jalapeño, radishes, zucchini and yellow squash out of the garden.” The green peppers are a little smaller than a tennis ball and he pulls a couple dozen radishes out of his garden every three or four days.

“My daughter, Lindsay, wanted me to plant string beans and purple beans this year just for fun. She probably won’t eat them, she just liked the color,” he chuckles.

Vining garden

His bigger garden is what he calls the vine garden. “It’s about 150 by 75 and I planted four varieties of watermelons, pickles, pumpkins, and musk melons.”

He is able to let the vining plants spread out in this larger garden.

“I planted gourds last year and I just can’t get rid of them. So I have a few volunteers popping up this year.”

You can’t forget the sweet corn. Gary has that too. Early mid and late-season sweet corn also line the big vine garden. “I will have sweet corn on the dinner table until late August,” he says.

Potatoes are pretty fun to grow. He has about a dozen hills that can grow about five pounds of potatoes each. “They are already starting to bloom,” he says. “I planted two rows of yellow, red and russet potatoes. My wife, Karen, likes potatoes. I will fry them up for breakfast almost every day. They should be ready by August and I will be harvesting the pickles and musk melon in three to four weeks.”

Lance says his wife also likes the sweet corn. “The early corn will start to tassel in about three weeks. Then it is ready to pick once the ends of the tassel turn brown.”

Feast for friends

Gary has his favorites. They are tomatoes and watermelon. “I planted Better Boy and Beefsteak tomatoes. I have pretty good luck with them. I like the taste. They are meatier and make good slicers.”

He will have more than enough to keep him happy for the summer and saves some for winter. “I will can the beans and tomatoes. And I like to make fresh salsa.”

Lance says he gave over 20 watermelon to local church and brings baskets of veggies to the station to share. “I like to have the fresh stuff straight from my garden. It just tastes better.”

This is one of the perks of working with Gary each morning. I better make sure I take my own empty basket to work next time and have him fill it up for me.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at getgrowing@gmail.com 



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