When my children were small, we had a vegetable plot in a community garden. We planted tomatoes, peppers, string beans, lettuce, and some herbs. The kids picked all the ripe, sun-warmed cherry tomatoes and popped them in their mouths and helped pull weeds. After the chores were done, we loved to wander around other gardeners’ vegetable plots to see what they were growing. Checking out other’s gardens is what gardeners do. It inspires us!
One morning in early Spring this year, I arrived at our potting bench to find Tom Hebel, Bucks Country Gardens’ owner, potting seeds into peat pots. I asked him what he was growing and he went into some detail about the heirloom bean seeds he had acquired, with the unusual name of Lazy Wife beans, a delicious stringless variety. I asked about his vegetable garden and he told me he gardened in raised beds – planted lettuce, beets, spinach and tomatoes. He also kept herbs (oregano, parsley, basil and rosemary) in pots on the deck.
It got me curious – I wondered what other Bucks Country Gardens employees grew in their vegetable gardens, so I wandered through all the different departments and asked several employees about what edibles they grow and why. Here’s what I found in my search:
Dakota Carlson (Cashier) and her family enjoy growing cherry and slicer tomatoes, bell peppers, green pole beans, and lettuce. She loves the convenience of going into the backyard to get her vegetables and the comfort in knowing it is chemical free and healthy. “Oh, and it is fun too.”
Ann Buckwalter (Customer Service) grows lettuce, broccoli, and Swiss chard in early Spring. She grows a few varieties of tomatoes including San Marzano, cherry, and slicers. Additionally, she grows a wide array of herbs: Italian basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme and sage. She likes having fresh food and enjoys the challenge of getting things to grow. Ann especially likes companion planting of edibles with flowers, such as marigolds and nasturtiums, which help lure insects away from her vegetable plants.
Nancy McIlvane (Hardgoods Manager) enjoys planting several tomato varieties including Sweet 100’s (a cherry variety), Sungolds (a yellow cherry), plum tomatoes, and slicers. She also plants Jalapeno peppers and Space Saver cucumbers (a bush variety) and assorted herbs: basil, cilantro, oregano, thyme, chives and dill. Nancy and her husband enjoy the freshness of vegetables and find it a stress-reducing hobby. They use the vegetables they grow to make a few of their favorite summer recipes: tomato pie, cheese-stuffed Jalapeno peppers, and garlic dill pickles. She likes to “reap the rewards and share the bounty” of her garden with family and friends.
Adrienne Vesci (Advertising Manager) and her family grow Early Girl and cherry tomatoes, burpless cucumbers, carrots, banana and tricolor peppers, and an assortment of herbs. She says growing vegetables is just part of her Italian heritage. “It’s something my grandparents and parents did,” she says. She enjoys watching the plants grow and become something that ends up on your table. It is also educational for her two young daughters, Isabella and Avery. The oldest, Izzie, is involved in watering and harvesting (especially the cherry tomatoes), while Avery is just starting to get interested.
Marilyn Fanning (Greenhouse Design & Sales) On her small property, Marilyn likes to grow Sweet 100’s, since they are so prolific and perfect for salads. She also remembers as a young girl, she enjoyed picking and eating cherry tomatoes warmed by the sun. Marilyn also grows Swiss chard, which she had originally added to her container flower gardens because of its pretty leaves, but then found she enjoyed cooking and eating it. She also grows thyme, oregano, parsley (curly and Italian varieties), basil and chives in the garden. She grows sage and mint in pots and has a hanging basket of trailing rosemary by her door. She is a vegetable gardener because she enjoys cooking with fresh vegetables and herbs and likes that she can “just go out to the garden and plan a meal around whatever is ripe and ready to harvest.” She also just loves the way her herbs smell, especially after a rain.
Amy Sanchez-Hamilton (Landscape Design & Sales) grows a wide array of vegetables and fruits. She has several fruit trees including apples, pears, and peaches. She grows blueberries, wineberry, and strawberries. Other vegetables include beans, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, and several squash types. She also grows leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and arugula. She says, “It is less expensive to grow vegetables rather than purchase organic produce.” Amy likes to preserve the excess from the garden by making pickles, applesauce, and blanched diced tomatoes for enjoying in the off-season. Herbs, she uses fresh in-season and then dries or freezes them for use in the winter. The lavender she grows is used to make soap and tea.
Don Lee (Nursery Manager) grows tomatoes (cherry, slicers, and heirlooms such as Black Krim), bush string beans and eggplant. He also grows Pablano and Jalapeno peppers, onions, radishes, mixed leaf lettuces, and herbs. Don likes to grow his own vegetables because they are healthier and taste better. It gives him a sense of satisfaction and he likes to “pick it and put it on the table.” Anyways there is always people who like to grow healthy stuff that sometimes you even need to ask what is it, like, is this cucumber? what is kratom? and the owner will tell you what those plants are.
So there we have it! We have a number of employees who grow everything from peaches to Swiss chard. There are many reasons to grow your own food – to feel a connection to your heritage, to teach your children, to engage in a relaxing hobby, but especially to enjoy healthy, fresh, tasty food from your OWN backyard. Ask any of our staff about their favorite varieties and tips on vegetable gardening and please share your stories with us… because that’s what gardeners do!
Kathy Evans | Greenhouse Design & Sales
Heather Fesmire | Digital Marketing Assistant