David Moenter with a white cauliflower he's just cut. He sells at the Bowling Green and Pemberville farmers' markets.
The Blade/Jetta Fraser
Name: David Moenter, retired farm equipment salesman, living in Pemberville.
Garden specs: It’s either a very small truck farm or a very big garden. This is the fourth year I’ve rented an acre and worked up three 50-by-180-foot plots. It’s beautiful dirt, sandy; it’s always been a pasture. I have it rototilled with a big tiller in fall and early spring.
PHOTO GALLERY: David Moenter's Pemberville garden/farm
When did you start gardening? I grew up on a farm two miles from here and at 10 or 12 years old I did a 4-H project that involved gardening. We had a big garden and I helped weed it. My parents figured if you didn’t put 20 bushels of potatoes in the basement in the fall you’d starve to death over the winter.
My father raised corn and beans. In the 1880s, my ancestors came from Germany to Pemberville and Luckey to farm; I’m fourth generation. I farmed and raised some hogs at one time, but sold the place and moved into town. I’ve got to have my fingers in dirt.
What do you grow? Vegetables. I double crop, planting early vegetables followed by others planted in mid-July. In March, whenever the ground is dry enough, I plant peas, potatoes (a red Norland, a white russet, and a blue variety — when I go to market I say I have red, white, and blue potatoes), carrots (including “White Satin”). In late March I plant red and white cabbage, I think the red is a little sweeter.
In April, I put in green beans and onions, Swiss chard, leeks. And later, tomatoes and peppers, which I didn't have good luck with this year. When the early plants are done producing I pull them out and in mid-July put in turnips, broccoli, and cauliflower plants (white, deep purple, and green which has somewhat of a broccoli taste and is a little firmer) in rows that are four-feet wide. Clark's Greenhouse in Temperance starts them from seed for me, so I'm planting 800 seedlings by hand. Green cauliflower hasn't sold too well, so at the Perrysburg Farmers' Market I've given customers one for free if they bought a white or a purple cauliflower and told them to try it.
In mid-June I put in butternut and acorn squash, and three varieties of sweet potatoes that I start digging in mid-September. I have two settings of sweet corn (Ambrosia), for my own use. This year's watermelons were Crimson Sweet and the heirloom Moon and Stars. I have some edamame (a type of soybean, very nutritious), lima beans, pattypan squash, cilantro, and peanut pumpkins (eaten in Europe but mostly used as an ornamental here). Vining on a large, sturdy arch made of livestock fencing is Malabar spinach. Curly kale is a beautiful plant that can be picked through December. Kale chips are really popular now. Mom always made kale soup.
Favorite plant: Purple cauliflower. It turns green when cooked. This year, I couldn't find seeds in the United States so ordered them from England. It's so popular, I couldn't not have it.
Give us a tip: The easiest weed to kill is the one you cannot see. In other words, hoe around each plant before you even see weeds: it loosens the soil, making for better water absorption and discouraging weed seeds.
Hours spent gardening: 20 to 30 a week.
Annual expense: $400.
Challenges: Competing with the weather. I did no watering this year but have enough pipe to irrigate everything if I need to.
I'm proud of: This is my fun project. A lot of it is for my own use. I like meeting people. I sell at the Perrysburg and Bowling Green farmers' markets, and hope to make a little money. Coming out here and picking this (he holds a dew-covered 11-inch-diameter cauliflower he's just cut) is my reward.
What have you learned gardening? It's a great way to stay active. And I love to put seeds and plants into the ground and watch them grow. I like learning about and growing different things and plants that people suggest.