FOREWORD: Part One
Why Grow Your Own Food?
TODAY, MORE AMERICANS than ever before want to grow their own fruits and vegetables. The objective is more wholesome, fresh, chemical-free, luscious-tasting foods.
People are tired of mealy, weeks-old, warehouse-ripened produce with a tainting of insecticide or weed killer. They want quality foods for themselves and their family. Yet about the only way to insure this is to grow them yourself. This keen interest in growing fruits and vegetables at home is the reason for the publication of this book.
Whenever any space is available, no matter how small, we believe that every family should have a vegetable garden. It is the best investment in recreation, wholesome food and health that a family can make. Many believe that man is by nature a gardener. Working in a garden is healing to both body and Spirit. There are both challenges and rewards in the proper preparation of the soil, designing the garden, selecting the seeds and seedlings and establishing them in the garden soil, maintaining conditions favorable to the growth of the plants, dealing intelligently with insects and diseases, harvesting and using the vegetables in ways that provide the body with vitamins and minerals essential to health.
During the years we have been editing Organic Gardening and Farming magazine, we have personally interviewed hundreds of organic growers and received reports from a great many others explaining why they grow their own foods. In this introductory section of How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method, we present the personal accounts which we believe best answer the question; “Why do you raise your own fruits and vegetables?”
Why Do I Garden?
Why does a man, living in town, want to raise vegetables when his wife can purchase them at the grocer’s much more cheaply? Why does he plan and dig and plant and pull weeds and get blisters and an occasional sore back or split fingernail, when bought vegetables are almost as tasty? He certainly is not compelled to do so, and I would like to try to answer the question.
First: There is the fascination of poring over seed catalogs with their colored pictures of ideal vegetables and glowing descriptions of sizes and colors and tastes, and then the wracking job of deciding which kinds to order, and in what amounts; then the pleasure of planning how to prepare the ground, and where and when to plant each kind of seed, and the making of a diagram to accommodate them.
Second: There is the matter of physical exercise. Most of us would rather Watch skillful athletes perform strenuously than weary our own muscles, or else we would rather over exercise one afternoon a week at our favorite sports. But we know that moderate daily exercise is far more beneficial than either, in developing the sparkling eye, the feeling of vigor, the sound sleep and the trim waistline. In our own back yard gardens we have that opportunity for constructive, satisfying and moderate exercise out in the fresh air.
Third: Whatever the manner in which we earn our daily bread, we become mentally exhausted at the shop or store or office, from the many problems we have to try to solve and the tensions we have to endure. What a rest and relaxation, on arrival home, to change into our old, patched clothes and step out into a quiet, happily growing garden. Almost immediately there is an easing of tension within us with the opportunity, as we putter around, to mull over our problems, to see them in their proper perspective and, very often, to reach happy solutions, so that by suppertime we are comfortably tired in body, and at peace, inwardly.
Fourth: And this is the most difficult to get into words. Although we might accurately say that a musician can create a melody or an artist a painting, nevertheless no human being can create an atom or molecule of actual physical matter. Our Creator is the only one who can do that. But we can work with Him and use the things He has given us and, by thought and care and labor, aid in developing them into things of beauty and benefit. Gardening can help us satisfy our creative urge and thrill us, as we see our efforts result in vigorous growth and development.
Fifth: Sinking one’s teeth into an ear of juicy sweet corn, picked half an hour previously, convinces one that it really is fresher and sweeter than the bought kind picked a day or two before. It is a pleasure to have vegetables fresher and more tasty and nutritious; and to enjoy the fruits of one’s labors furnishes a very gratifying feeling of accomplishment.
Sixth: Most gardeners raise more than they can use, and delight in sharing with their neighbors the delicacies they have produced. This experience is a . pure bonus of enjoyment to the donor. —C. L. Woodridge
Health, Fun and Delight
“Ten years ago, when we bought our one and two-thirds acre property near Santa Monica, my wife and I decided to really go in for organic gardening . Today I sincerely believe we did the job right.”
That’s how Dr. John Duge, a California obstetrician, views the result of his gardening efforts. He now produces over $150 ($561.30 2008 Dollars) worth of quality food each month for his family of 6.
Sheet composting was a key practice in converting the compacted adobe into rich soil. For example, when the corn is a foot high, loads of rotted manure are spread between rows and around plants. Then a ground mulch (mostly leaves) is applied about 3 inches thick.
There’s almost a supermarket-like variety growing in the one acre garden. In fruit trees, you’ll find peach, cherimoya, sapote, guavas, apples, limequats, kumquats, lemon, lime, orange, tangelo, grapefruit, avocados, plums, papayas, figs, apricots, nectarines, persimmon, tangerine and jujubes. There are also pecans, Chinese chestnuts and even some olive trees. With careful planning, he rotates his corn, beans, squash, tomatoes and other vegetables.
The entire family, wife, John (16), Mildred (14), Karen (9), and Bill (5) also help keep up with the productive garden. “A labor of love” is the way Mrs. Duge describes the activity that goes into planting, cultivating, harvesting, as well as her own freezing, drying and canning.
|California obstetrician John Duge (facing the camera) believes that the good health of his four children who are “practically never ill, rarely a cold” is mostly the result of their eating vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables from their organic garden.|
She has a quick freezing unit to process foodstuffs for the ten-by-ten-foot walk-in freezer. Main vegetables she freezes: cut-corn in containers and corn-on-the-cob, tomatoes—whole and pureed, green beans, asparagus, green limas, broccoli. Fruits include peaches, apple sauce, strawberries, plums; of juices, there are strawberry, cherry, boysenberry, grape and tomato.
Today we are very content to stand in our garden paths and look out over the tall, flourishing plantings of corn, tassels whispering in the breeze, thousands of bees whirring over everything. We look at the long rows of limas and pole beans, the big area of asparagus, the smaller beds of 20-pound cabbages, of giant Sweet Spanish onions, rows of soy beans, squash and tomatoes, beets and broccoli, the trees laden with fruit. No sprays or DDT dusts to worry about. My 4 children, 1 think, are just about the healthiest and smartest in Southern California. Practically never ill, rarely a cold and,” concludes the busy doctor, “mostly the result of eating fruits and vegetables from our organic garden.”—Gordon L’ Allemand
Retiring to a More Useful, Wonderful and Relaxing Life
It isn’t often that you meet a man who has become so completely dedicated to a purpose in life as Paul Wiegman. Now that he has retired from the sheet metal business, at which he has worked 52 of his 68 years, his sole purpose in life is to grow and eat only those fruits and vegetables grown organically on his own plot in Springdale, Connecticut.
|Paul Wiegman of Springdale, Connecticut exhibits his giant-sized peppers. “I couldn’t possibly have retired to a more useful, wonderful, and relaxing life,” Mr. Wiegman observes. “Organic gardening is just the ticket for an old gent like me.”|
The plot, which includes a small lawn he calls his “park,” measures 60 by 150 feet. In this relatively small space he has growing two apple trees, 4 filbert bushes, 9 blueberry bushes, and one cherry tree. The garden, which extends beyond the small lawn, produces in abundance such winter-eating vegetables as rutabagas, parsnips, carrots, squash (blue hubbard and butternut) and sweet potatoes.
Mr. Wiegman prefers to grow winter vegetables, and has a unique way of conserving them. Instead of pulling and storing them as most of us do, he just allows them to remain right where they are growing. When winter begins to set in, about the last of November, he covers the. vegetable rows with at least 12 to 18 inches of leaves, firming them down well. Once a week throughout winter he goes out, scrapes the snow aside, reaches under the leaves and removes a week’s supply of each vegetable. Because of the thick layer of leaves which keeps the ground warm, he never has to chop through frozen earth to reach them. His vegetables are always fresh, firm and wholesome, much more so than if they had been pulled and stored. Mr. Wiegman removed his last carrots during the first week in April, and found them just as good and crisp as those he pulled last November.
“Was good eating last winter,” he says, “and sure saved on the family budget.”
Last season, he grew snap beans over seven inches long. These were from his own organically grown seed—on which he insists. Because there was more than he and his family could eat, he took the surplus to a corner vegetable stand in New Canaan, Connecticut. The owner bought them immediately, greatly surprised by their excellent quality.
Mr. Wiegman now has an assurance from the stand that any vegetables he cares to bring in will be bought immediately. Now that there is a demand for his products, he has since sold the stand many of the vegetables grown on his plot. The townspeople are noting the difference in flavor between those grown by commercial farmers with chemical fertilizers and those grown by Mr. Wiegman on his organically enriched soil.
Because Paul cannot meet the demand, the friend at the vegetable stand saves these vegetables only for his very best customers—who will remain his very best customers as long as they can get vegetables grown by Mr. Wiegman.
Now that he is retired, Paul Wiegman spends all of his time puttering around the garden. His friends have been told time and again, “When you come calling, come to the back door. You’ll find me in the garden.”
And there you, too, will find him if you chance to pay him a visit. Growing vegetables for the stand now takes up all of his time. This work not only keeps him in the best of health and spirits, but adds to the family income.
“I couldn’t possibly have retired to a more useful, wonderful, and relaxing life,” Mr. Wiegman says. “Organic gardening is just the ticket for an old gent like me.” —Betty Brinhart
Back-yard Gardening Pays Off
How would you like to make $65 ($243.23 2008 Dollars) to $75 ($280.65 2008 Dollars) a month around the year just on vegetables and fruits raised in your back yard? How would you like— over a 16 year period—to take cement-like soil, develop it to a fine organic tilth, rear 5 children to adulthood—and during all these years spend not over $40 ($149.68 2008 Dollars) for doctor and dentist bills? And as if anything additional were needed—have a beautiful lawn, flowers of outstanding beauty, shady bench spots and cool patios, and the companionship of dozens of bird families through all those years.
That is just what the E. A. Turlingtons of Venice, California, have done. hey say you too can do it. It’s health and fun and profit for the joyous king. Here is the story of the Turlington city “farm.”
I he Turlington place, 1335 Appleton Way, Venice, is 65 by 175 feet, a charming cream stucco home set amidst green fruit trees, beds of roses and fine dahlias, and a velvety lawn for the front yard, all mulched and thriving
a plant propagator’s delight—and that is just what energetic E. A. Turlington is—a plant propagator and seed and bulb specialist with the famous Paul Howard Nurseries of West Los Angeles.
Through the years the soil of this garden has been built up by the constant application of humus from two 4 by 4 by 10-foot bins that receive all the kitchen waste, every bit of grass, leaves, old plants, husks, shells, peelings on the place. Nothing is wasted. Kelp is hauled in from nearby beaches. Goat, sheep, chicken, rabbit, steer manures are added to the bins as needed.
“From 4 to 8 tons of compost yearly go into and onto the ground of this garden,” explained Mr. Turlington. “We have an iron-clad rule here that every tree and plant must produce, or out it goes.”
Walkways of thick, spongy kikuyu grass wind in and out among the many beds of vegetables in the garden. Fruit trees are spotted along the fences and edging the center walkways. The place is indeed a park to walk in and enjoy living.
Here are rows of bantam sweet corn ready to eat in mid-August—the variety—two kinds: Golden Cross Bantam and Aunt Mary’s mixed to give larger ears and more rows of grains to the ear. Five kinds of tomatoes-Garden King, Pearson, Stone, Earliana, Ponderosa are planted to give a bearing season lasting from June to the following March.
A large planting of Kentucky Wonder pole beans is just ending a heavy bearing season. Mrs. Turlington says her family can eat fresh and canned green beans five times weekly and like them.
Mr. Turlington says that he and his wife use a rotating planting season like the Chinese farmers. They keep this garden working and producing the year around. Soil enrichment is a steady job, too.
About 25 vegetables are grown: sweet corn, bush and pole green beans, pole and bush limas, four kinds of lettuces, peas, several kinds of summer and winter squashes, green peppers for high vitamin C, cucumbers, pumpkins, banana squash, several kinds of radishes planted frequently, beets, an asparagus bed, artichokes, etc.
“We never sell a thing from this place,” says Mrs. Turlington. “We eat all we can and what we can’t we can—in glass jars for my pantry.” The long colorful rows of jars of beans, chili and barbecue sauces, peaches, beets, jams, jellies are there for good eating, and all are free of condemning sprays and chemical fertilizer residues.
The soil of this garden is a revelation to inspect. It is spongy, moist to touch, sweet smelling. No weeds are allowed to sap the rich food meant for the vegetables.
The peach trees of several varieties were loaded with crops, according to whether early or late varieties. Other fruit trees included plums, oranges, nectarines, apricots, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit, jujubes, pomegranates, limes. Some peach trees were espaliered along the fences for efficient production.
Onions for green and dry use are grown. A new asparagus bed is just coming into production. Nearby are several artichoke bushes that have been doing well.
“The kind of garden you see here,” said Mr. Turlington, “is now the exception in America. It should be the rule. People are unfortunately too uninformed, too misinformed, and too indolent to do what we are doing. It is too easy to walk around the corner to the supermarket.”
Mrs. Turlington, who says she often serves a half dozen home grown vegetables, cooked or raw, on her dining table at once, also has a fine bed of golden banana squashes, climbing cucumber vines and their fruit, and nearby new rows of bush beans coming into bearing.
The Turlington family has proven over a period of 16 years that the organic way of life is best and that it pays golden profits in health, happiness, and money saved.
“We would like to see American homeowners go back to having a family garden to each place,” said Mr. Turlington. “That way lies health, longer life, happiness.”—Gordon L’ Allemand
Discovering the Fountain of Youth
|Growing his own food supply organically in Florida has helped 87-year-old Charles Weeks establish a “Fountain of Youth.” Mr. Weeks has been raising more than 50 different vegetables and fruits on his two-acre plot outside West Palm Beach.|
If you’re ever near West Palm Beach, Florida, be sure to visit the organic vegetable gardens of Charles Weeks. I don’t think I have ever seen such immaculate, well-kept rows of plants, so healthy-looking and so non-insect-bitten. And I don’t think I have ever seen such happy enthusiasm. Mr. Weeks is 87 years old and full of zeal and ardor, I might say having an exaltation of soul about the organic method. He is intensely organic.
He came to Florida many years ago from Indiana seeking the fountain of youth and he has found it. Ponce de Leon had nothing on Mr. Weeks. He works stripped to the waist and is outdoors most of the time doing a great part of the work around the place. He grows 50 kinds of vegetables, papayas, avocados, mangoes and bananas, all on two acres located within the city limits of the famous resort town of West Palm Beach.
His vegetable beds are 8 feet wide with two-foot paths between, and the rows of vegetables are planted crosswise. The seeds are planted in shallow trenches filled with earthworm humus from the piles of compost. Around the papayas, avocados, mangoes and bananas is a bed of vegetable waste filled with African night crawlers. His vegetable beds grow vegetables every month in the year. As fast as a bed is past its prime, the old plants go to the compost pile and new seeds are planted of a different variety in order to follow a plan of rotation of crops.
Mr. Weeks has absolutely no lawn. In his opinion many homeowners have too much lawn. He says there is more beauty in rows of crisp lettuce, Brussels sprouts and beets. I can vouch for the fact that the place is most beautiful and does not suffer from the lack of a lawn.
There is no shortage of organic matter for compost-making in this section of Florida. The state keeps harvesting the water hyacinth from the canals and placing it in heaps on the banks for anyone who wishes to haul it away. Seaweed can also be obtained. There are tremendous amounts of palm tree fronds and residues available, but special equipment would be needed to ready them for the compost heap. In the case of the heavy vegetation from the banyan tree, which he sometimes gets from the park system, he puts earthworms on top of them. They eat up the heavy leaves in about a year or more.
Mr. Weeks’ little place is a marvelous “pilot plant” that others can very well use as a standard. It is as clean as a whistle, and everything has been worked out for ease of operation. Mr. Weeks does his work, the earthworms do their share, and the plants grow like all get-out. Mr. Weeks is smilingly happy about it all, and his health shines out all over him. He is living long because he is eating much of his vegetables fresh and raw out of his garden. He eats some fish, eggs and milk, but meat rarely. He does not drink or smoke. He likes to quote Elbert Hubbard who said, “Motion must equal emotion.” His finest crops, he maintains, are the friends he makes. So if you are ever around Palm Beach way, drop in on Charley Weeks and his delightful wife. They will love to have you visit them.—J. I. Rodale
We Prefer Vegetables to a Lawn
Take a tip from parker Richards of Twin Falls, Idaho. from the garden. Also the idea of raising something besides lawn and flowers carried a lot of appeal for them. So they picked one corner of the back yard and went to work.
The plot had for many years been a flower garden, later they had extended the lawn to include that space also. Their first job then was to spade the grass and work up the soil. What fertilizer to use was no quandary for them for both had pioneer parents who raised fine vegetables before the day of commercial fertilizers. They decided to follow in their parents’ footsteps.
“We picked good aged cow manure,” Mr. Richards said, “because weeds seem more prevalent when sheep droppings are used.”
Mrs. Richards said they also had used some chicken droppings to augment the other fertilizer occasionally.
Did the venture pan out? Most definitely, yes! Anyone seeing the luxuriant growth and the fine vegetables they raise would be ready to don garden togs, take up their shovel and hoe and start a project of their own. A few lessons from the Richards would be well in line, because besides leading off with the proper fertilizer, it takes a lot of work to till the soil and get it in proper shape for planting. Knowledge of the best varieties tor any certain locality, correct time of planting, proper cultivation, all go into the ultimate success of a small vegetable garden, as well as in gardening or farming on a larger scale.
Starting now on their fourth year of “farming” a 20 x 30 foot corner of their yard, they have not only enjoyed all the fresh vegetables (vitamin-rich) that they could use, but have also supplied much produce to their married children and families, and very often treat friends with some extra special tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, etc.
The garden has paid its way, no question about that. Perhaps some people, figuring in dollars and cents against the time, work, seed, fertilizer cost and hauling, weighed beside the cost of the vegetables purchased in a market, would feel it not worth the effort. However, summed up in pleasure, outdoor exercise, satisfaction of picking one’s own super-fresh vitamin-charged vegetables with a minimum of time from garden to table, plus the joy of sharing with others, has been to the Richards a very worthwhile investment. —Olive May Cook
Our Garden Saves Us Ten
($37.42 2008) Dollars a Week
I’ve saved at least 10 dollars a week all winter with the food I froze or canned from the garden.” That’s the way Dorothy Perkins, mother of our from Versailles, Kentucky, describes her gardening results. With food prices going up like impatient satellites, it’s more important than ever to get ore out of your gardening than pleasure. And you can, too-without sacrificing any of the fun!
“WE knew we’d save money with a garden,” points out Tom Perkins, “but there better are other things too. The children have been healthier-fewer colds, of home grown that we feel is due in part to the greater amounts “home-grown vegetables they’ve been eating.”
The Perkin’s plot is a pleasant, cooperative effort. Everyone helps, every-one benefits. Because Tom works all day as a garage mechanic and Dorothy is busy with household chores, they garden in the late afternoons and on week ends. Sixteen-year-old Lewis is doing more of the planting each spring, and Carol 13, helps with the weeding. To make preparation of the garden faster and easier, they bought a 21/2 horsepower tractor.
“That’s paying for itself,” Tom declared. “Our neighbor plowed our ground last fall in exchange for the use of the hand tractor to plow his own. How could you invest in anything that pays such high dividends as the money we put into the garden? Altogether we have only a little over an acre, but look what we get out of it!” The Perkins’ plot is proof that no one’s is too small tor fruit trees as well as a plentiful variety of budget-balancing vegetables. The trees are planted at the sides of the garden. Tom mixed sheep manure into the soil around these, and also around the rhubarb.
|Mother of four from Versailles, Kentucky, Dorothy Perkins stands in front of her freezer containing some of her garden’s harvest—a supply that “saves her at least $10.00 a week in food bills,” and contributes much to her family’s good health.|
Strung across the space among the vegetable rows are strands of wire to serve as supports for the raspberry, blackberry and boysenberry bushes.
As desirable today as the economic advantage of a productive garden is, far more than that stands to be gained by any family.
As Tom Perkins put it, “There’s more than a dollar-and-cents satisfaction from a garden—even more than better health and keeping the kids off the street and knowing where they are all the time.”
Dorothy nodded. “So many parents and children go their separate ways, seldom sharing interests. We do everything together. The garden is a playground for Joyce and Shirley. For Lewis it’s a kind of laboratory and workshop. Carol has her friends in for a barbecue roast on the grill. There’s room for the croquet set and we all play. Is it only such a short time since we worried about wholesome recreation for the children?”
Tom sniffed at the fragrant blossoms. “I knew only that I wanted a better life for all of us. I didn’t realize how much the garden would . . .” he groped tor words.
“Enrich our lives,” Dorothy supplied. —Bertha Newhoff
The Market Basket and How It Grew
Roger Chamberlain of South Hadley, Massachusetts, is a typical New Englander, conservative in both speech and manner. He is most conservative, however, in his spacious truck garden where he saves hours of hard labor by heavy mulching. It shows up, too in his small country store in which he sells everything from western saddles to organically grown fruits and vegetables.
The “Market Basket,” a combination of store and vegetable stand, is neatly situated between the sandy shores of the sparkling, blue Connecticut, and the low-rolling hills of the Holyoke Range. To the left of the store, and on up the sloping hillside toward the purple-gray mountains, were rows upon rows of squash, strawberries, blackberries, sweet corn, etc. And all were carefully mulched with a thick layer of dry, decaying hay.
As Mr. Chamberlain proudly took us on a lengthy tour of his garden, we stopped beside his mammoth plants of yellow, summer squash. The plants looked neat and trim collared by the brown mulch. I asked about his source of hay. He immediately pointed to a large field further up the slope.
“As soon as the grass is tall enough in late spring,” he replied, “I cut it, and bring it down to the garden here.” He kicked the top few inches of mulch aside. “I put it on at least a foot thick. By fall most of it is gone—rots and goes right into the ground.” He bent and quickly cleared a large hole in the mulch. Beneath was the blackest soil I had ever seen up here in New England. (Eastern soil is naturally yellow in color, and very sandy.) Mr. Chamberlain’s fingers dug easily into the soft, rich earth. He brought up a double handful of soil that smelled clean and sweet as it fell loosely through his strong fingers. There was no need to ask if earthworms were present. The evidence was all there.
When I inquired about his method of cultivation in spring, he flashed a quick smile.
“Never plow,” he replied. “I just move the mulch aside, loosen the soil a bit and plant the seed. Then I push the mulch back in place. When the plants sprout, they break right through. No need to worry about weeds that way.”
And he is right. No weeds could possibly grow beneath that heavy, thick covering. Mr. Chamberlain did not say, but, from the appearance of his well-mulched garden, he is a firm believer in the wonders of mulching. And, might I add, the results certainly are rewarding. I have never seen such robust, heavy producing plants before.
|New Englander Roger Chamberlain shows the reason why his “Market Basket” has become such a popular place for persons who are interested in better quality vegetables. Organic practices have made his soil fertile and capable of producing nutritious foods.|
I couldn’t resist stooping and running my fingers through that rich earth. Good soil has always meant a great deal to me. It felt refreshingly cool and moist even though the outside temperatures hovered above 98 degrees.
“It must take a good-sized compost pile every year to keep this soil producing as it does,” I said, looking up. But Mr. Chamberlain shook his head.
“Years ago, I owned a herd of cattle. All the manure, then, did go into the compost bin. After it was broken down, 1 added it to the garden here. But, since I sold the cows, I use only hay mulch to keep things going.”
“How about organic fertilizers?” my husband asked. “Use much of it?”
“Only in early spring to give the new plants a good start. After they catch on, they live off the soil alone.”
“And you get squash like this,” I said, holding the big leaves aside to expose the large, sunny-bright summer squash beneath. As Mr. Chamberlain was about to answer, a customer drove up to the store.
“You go ahead and wait on her,” my husband said. “We’ll just look around while you are gone.” But Mr. Chamberlain just flashed another quick smile.
“No need to go,” he said. “My customers help themselves to what they want and leave the money in the cigar box on the counter.”
“And it works out well that way?” I asked in utter astonishment.
“Sure. Works out fine for all concerned.” I could hardly believe my eyes as the woman actually selected some of Mr. Chamberlain’s organically grown vegetables, weighed them on the scale, then tucked them under her arm, and dropped the money in the waiting box. I have never known a business to operate under such conditions and still survive. But, here was one, and it was doing very well! Mr. Chamberlain is not afraid to trust his many customers. And, put on their honor, they never disappoint him.
Watching the lady-shopper drive away, I asked:
“Do you sell very many of your vegetables?”
“All I can grow.”
“Do people buy them only because they want fresh vegetables, or is it because they want organically grown ones?”
“Most buy because they want organically grown vegetables,” he replied. “Once a person buys from me, he is sure to come back. Customers claim my vegetables have better flavor than those in the stores. This spring, while peas were in season, I picked thirty pounds a day, and sold them as fast as I could get them on the counter. The customers said they never tasted better peas.”
We gradually moved on up past the strawberry patch that had produced very well in spite of the late frost, past the blackberry patch just coming into production, and on up to the rows and rows of sweet corn. Each stalk, I noticed, bore a huge ear. Mr. Chamberlain fondly handled one of them as he talked. He had good reason to be proud. He had grown prize-winning sweet corn without the aid of commercial fertilizers or sprays. My next question concerned vegetable and flower plants. “Yes, I grow plenty of both in spring,” Mr. Chamberlain replied. “They are my best source of income. People like my plants. Customers say they almost all catch on, and produce better-tasting vegetables. The flower plants, too, seem to bloom better with lots of color. The same people come back year after year to buy my plants.” Here, then, is positive proof that plants grown organically have a larger percentage of survival, grow up stronger, and produce better-flavored fruits, and prettier flowers. If only more men like Mr. Chamberlain were scattered across the country so all of us could buy organically grown plants. If it were so, we would, indeed, be able to grow vegetables worth eating.—Betty Brinhart