By Karin Glendenning
Community News Writer
Next door neighbors Porkey White and Ralph Heard contend that you don’t need a large area to grow vegetables. Though they both have big yards surrounding their homes, they have cultivated only small plots on each where they grow many different varieties, rotating them throughout growing seasons.
If you’ve got a small space and use it right, you can get in a whole lot, said Mr. Heard.
The two men are enthusiastic about growing things. Currently they have plants of okra, corn, squash, tomatoes, garlic, lettuce, onions, cucumbers, peppers and green beans thriving in their raised and mulched beds.
They grow Early Girl, Big Boy, Rutgers, Park Whoppers, yellow and grape tomatoes; white scallop, black zucchini, butternut and yellow straight neck squash; and cayenne, Big Bertha bell and jalapeno peppers.
Mr. White also has grape vines where he grows Concord grapes as well as a large dark blue variety. He said he used to make wine, but now just eats the grapes and makes jelly from them. This strand of grapes has been in my family for 100 years, he said.
Diligent about rotating their crops, they plant collards and turnip greens in the fall, lettuce in the early spring and onions almost year round. They also plan for late summer yields by staggering their plantings.
When we take up the beans, we’ll plant late tomatoes, squash and cucumbers, said Mr. Heard. They have just planted a second round of cucumbers and some tomatoes to replace the ones that are growing now.
Both men are just as devoted to fishing as they are to gardening. We went fishing every day last year from June until November, said Mr. White. We normally fish near the locks on the lake side, he added. They said they have caught 30 fish that weigh more than 30 pounds each and last year caught a 54–pound catfish. We take pictures of them and then throw them back in, he said.
Last year they planted a stand of bamboo in the backyard. It grows over a foot a day, said Mr. Heard who measures it to document its fast growing progress. They use the bamboo canes to knock worms from Mr. White’s Catawba trees to use as fishing bait, freezing them when they have an excess.
Mr. Heard has a statue of an owl mounted on a post by his garden. It’s there to scare away the squirrels and birds, he said. We move it around from post to post to keep them guessing.
The men said they fertilize with 6-12-12 when they plant and feed the vegetables about every three or four weeks. They use Sevin as an insecticide. We don’t really have to spray much and try to get by with as little as we can, said Mr. Heard. They also plant marigolds around their beans. They will keep the beetles off, said Mr. Heard.
Mr. White and Mr. Heard, now retired, said they don’t put up much of what they grow. We just eat it and share it with our neighbors, they said. Lucky neighbors!
E-mail Karin Glendenning at email@example.com