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The Penfield Veggie Gardener’s Gospel

by Joseph Gersitz

Beginning a garden? Then PLAN!

ASKING Who, What, Where, When, Buying Good Seed, Reading Catalogs: "When and How to Grow"

When should I PLAN?

Last week, or yesterday, NOW will soon be too late.

What should I grow?

Grow what you like to eat and eat what you grow.

Some suggestions: beans, broccoli, cucumbers, garlic, leek, lettuce, onions, parsnips, peas, peppers, spinach, squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes

What do I eat?:

Michael Pollan wrote:

Eat food, Lots of it, Mostly green!

What are life essentials for my garden plants and ME?

The essentials for your plant’s life and YOUR own life are the LIVE FIVES:

S - W - A- N - S

YES, SWANS say it out loud, "SWANS!"

S for SUN - for a whole day of light and warmth,

W for WATER - be it rain or hose; soak but never just sprinkle!

A for AIR - for space and elbow room to grow

N for NUTRIENTS - for organic ‘soil foods’

S for SOIL - rich, black & wormy

Who will help?

Your children, your spouse or partner, your neighborhood gardener. Joe’s veggie garden club Free membership!

When and Where should I buy seed?

Get their catalogs for When and How to grow

Oops, almost forgot:

Fence! Don’t feed the Deer, Rabbits nor Mice. Only two-leggeds!


Joe was kind enough to answer a few questions about his passion for gardening.

How long have you been gardening?

My mother had a little vegetable garden in our Buffalo, NY backyard. When I was twelve and our country entered the war, there was talk of victory gardens during the first world war, 22 years earlier, so I made her garden our 1942 Victory Garden. For a span of about 24 years when I was in various seminaries I did not garden. When the opportunity arose in 1972 I took up gardening and composting and this has been my super hobby since.

As a born teacher who wants to share my experience and knowledge with others, I appreciate anything that promotes worthwhile topics that make the lives of others happier. I have been blessed with good health so that even though I now belong to the generation of elders, I want to enjoy gardening even despite my present ability.

Why do you choose organic?

As I reflect on my connection to the earth, it probably is an inheritance from my grandparents whose roots were in three different farming areas of Germany. When they were able in this country again they were involved in agriculture and the fruits harvested from farms. A natural follow-up was preserving by extensive canning, freezing and pickling. My interest in organic agriculture, gardening and farming came with an innate trait not to waste also inherited from my grandparents. When I saw the difference that animal waste made a huge difference in the growth of our street tree, compared to those same age trees of neighbors.

How much food were you able to donate to the PEFS this past year?

My front yard Organic Garden is now labeled a Giving Garden of the Penfield Ecumenical Food Shelf. It grew about 1,000 pounds of veggies last summer for the Food Shelf.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I'm now ordering seeds for next summer.


Check out our Fruit and Vegetable Gardens page for more resources.

Want to have a garden but don't have much space? Check out Lynne Perry's recommendations on "Crowd Sharing Gardens"

NOFA-NY Annual Conference: Rooted in Resilience

January 16-23rd

Join the Northeast Organic Farming Association of NY, or NOFA-NY for their outstanding annual conference—virtual in 2021. The learning and networking are terrific for any “ag-vocates” seeking greater understanding and impact in the realm of sustainable agriculture. This year’s theme: “Rooted In Resilience!”

One registration give you access to over 90 workshops and sessions!

Learn more here.

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