Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Pat and Fred at the pear tree.

Hi! I've been raising almost all my family's vegetables year round for decades in a small back yard plot 12 miles from Manhattan with no poisons, chemicals or power machinery. When I was also raising my family and working full time, I allowed myself only a half hour a day. My health improved remarkably. It's easy and fun!

Now that I am feeding only two, we have about 300 square feet with vegetables. The only vegetables we buy are potatoes and onions. I've raised them, but they take up too much space in our small yard. I also raise many flowers and fruit. In 1997 I was fruit self-sufficient from late May to late October, but since then the squirrels have challenged that lovely arrangement.

When I was raising vegetables for six, I had 1000 square feet of vegetables. I gave birth to two (humans), and in the early 1980's my husband and I became licensed emergency parents for teen-agers having difficulty with their parents. We often had two extras in our home, and we all six ate from the garden. Raising vegetables takes remarkably little time in the Garden State.

About half the years I've been gardening, I did not water with a hose. I never water my lawn, and it looks fine. Of course, I use a watering can for baby plants, either seeds or seedlings that started in my greenhouse window. I've never used the hose more than three times in one year. When I do, I water deeply, aiming the water in one direction for an hour at a time.

I learned this from the "old guys" who were still selling plants when I started gardening, the heritage of several generations of gardeners and sellers. Back then they were disappointed that their youngsters were "going to college and leaving the business." I also learned from my parents, whose fathers raised abundant gardens amid successful careers. My earliest memories were of Victory Gardens, my parents' and others'. I learned lots from reading seed catalogs and books.

For several years I've had a growing email list of those who want to learn how to garden on a small plot in a metropolitan area and to be entertained by stories from my adventures. This blog will reach out to a wider audience, and include some recipes. I plan to post some choice past emails and add others when the spirit moves me. As time permits, I will answer questions. There is much to be learned, and everyone who gardens experiments. We can learn much from each other!

You don't have to know much to get started. Sweet-100 tomatoes just grow! They even volunteered in my front yard, where they get little sun and I've done nothing to improve the Montclair clay soil. I said to the first, "You stupid thing, tomatoes can't grow there." But they were right and I was wrong, so I gave them a tomato cage and the great-grandchildren of those first pioneers grace my front lawn as I write. And they taste so much better than anything you can buy...



Anonymous said...

Great blog Pat - Congrats!! I put a link to it from my blog.

Cheers and have a good open garden today.
Cat (your neighbor)

Gamsby said...

It's great that you have a blog! Now people can find on the internet the wealth of information you've been emailing us all this time!

December 31st, 2009? You're posting from the future-ture-ture-ture...!