Probably one of the most satisfying & enjoyable hobbies that I have is Vegetable Gardening. Being 50% Italian I developed the interest from my father who is 100% Italian. He picked up vegetable gardening from his father who came to Western Pennsylvania from Italy in the early part of the 20th century.
I have tried my hand at growing plenty of different types of home grown vegetables for 15 years or so but after the trials & tribulations that come along in dealing with the weather and the climate of Southern Maryland I now plant only the vegetables that annually are dependable and vigorous in production.
My home garden is a modest size of 30 ft. X 8 ft. but what I do plant grows in abundance. I plant both a Spring & a Fall garden because of the relatively agreeable climate of Southern Maryland. I refuse to use insecticides or pesticides since I believe that we Americans already digest more of these than we realize from the neighborhood grocery produce section. However, because of the large amount of clay in the soil that is typical in the area that I live in, I do add to the soil plenty of fertilizer, organic & inorganic materials. These include compost, peat moss, bagged top soil & ashes from my fireplace. For a couple of years I also added sand.
Regular maintenance of the garden includes watering and hoeing. The hoeing cultivates the soil and keeps the weeds down to a bare minimum. I've been fortunate that I haven't had any major problems with insects so far.
The vegetables that I annually grow are:
Tomatoes- 2-4 types: Mainly Beefmaster & Betterboy because of their disease resistance (VFN). This past year I planted Big Beef, an award winning variety of Beaf Steak with great results as well as some Pomaderos which are great for cooking.
2 types of Lettuce: Black Seed Simpson (a traditional family favorite) & Escarole which will grow into the winter months because of it's tolerance to anything but a severe "killing frost", including snow.
Another favorite is Swiss Chard which can be blanched & frozen for eating all year long. It is very versatile & can be used in a number of different dishes including a traditional Italian family favorite, Verdu or even Italian Wedding Soup.
Finally, Zucchini, Bush Green Beans, Radishes & Carrots fill out the remainder of the garden.
In addition to the vegetables about 6 ft. away from the garden is a young "Hale Haven" peach tree which produces just enough of fruit for summer eating & 1 or 2 peach pies that my wife will make.
Supplementing my garden are 5 types of herbs that my wife and I grow in containers in our front yard.
Sweet Basil, Greek Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme and Chives.
Gardening for me is a satisfying activity that the whole family can in one way or another participate in. My 2 sons both participate in the planting of the seeds as well as the watering of the garden. Everyone participates in the eating!
"2 views of my Spring Garden in Late May"
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