GRAPE EXPECTATIONS: This week HOMEGROWN chats with Sharon, a gardener and Waylon Jennings fan from grape-growing country in upstate New York. We knew she had a good sense of humor when we read this line in her profile: “I love my garden, my cats, my dogs, my husband, and my kids (not necessarily in that order—it varies from day to day).” We talked to Sharon about that sometimes first-place finisher, her garden, plus her plans for her homestead. Got advice or resources to share with Sharon on off-the-grid cabins? Don’t be shy: Post a comment below!
What is Meet Your Neighbors? Most of us spend a fair amount of time tending our online gardens, but it’s easy to forget there’s a real person behind every quiche recipe, chicken inquiry, and hoophouse design here on HOMEGROWN. Well, nuts to that! MYN gives us a chance to meet over the back fence and shake hands. (Or maybe hug? We’re huggers. But no pressure.)
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Good morning, Sharon from Sheridan—New York, that is! To start things off, tell us a little about your town. How long have you lived there?
Born and raised here, actually! My parents live about a mile up the road. During my young adult years, I rented some places in neighboring towns, but when my husband and I were ready to buy a house, we knew this was where we wanted to be.
That speaks highly of it as a place to live! And what's the local food community like? Are there farms? Farmers markets? Lots of places to get good food? (And by "good food" we mean what, in her profile, Sharon calls: "food whose source is easily identifiable." Well put, huh?)
Sheridan is a small town--maybe 2000 or so people? And very much a farming community. Grapes are the big thing. We're part of the Lake Erie Wine Trail, that stretches from Erie, PA to Silver Creek, NY. There are four wineries within a 5 mile radius of my house. My grandfather was a grape farmer, and two of my brothers have small vineyards, as well
How cool! What kind of wines do your brothers produce? And speaking of growing, a little birdie told us that your own garden is going crazy right now. What all are you growing this summer, and what are you harvesting this week?
Actually, my brothers' grapes go to Welch's (the guys who make grape juice and grape jelly, with Alton Brown in the commercials). As for our garden, we're currently being over-run by summer squash and zucchini, the green beans are just starting to come on (after bouncing back from a vicious deer attack), we have enough cucumbers to start making pickles, and it looks like the corn will be ready within the next week or so. We also have peppers, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, pumpkins, cabbage, and a TON of tomatoes. They're all still green, but I'm really hoping for a great harvest so I can do a lot of canning!
What an awesome haul—and comeback green beans: They're fierce! Deer are no match for them! It sounds like you have a serious green thumb. If you could share one tip for first-time gardeners, what would it be? And (two-fer question here) we hear you have some big plans for the future, too. What's on tap at your abode besides that bountiful garden?
Well, I am by no means an expert! But I would tell people, just give it a try! Gardens are very forgiving, and nature has a way of making things work. I've had years where I was so busy, it looked like all I was growing were weeds, but when I got out there and started pulling, I uncovered plants that bounced right back once they could see the sun again!
Our next big project is to build a greenhouse. We have a stack of discarded windows, and we're planning to tackle that in the fall. I'm also hoping to add a flock of chickens to our family next year. And, we have about 23 acres of woods out back, so we have big plans to build an off-grid cabin...but that won't be for awhile! We do have fun making plans, though!
I love making plans—and I find that it's pretty good incentive to follow through, since once I've envisioned something, it's hard to resist the temptation of actually seeing it built. The cabin and greenhouse both sound fantastic. Maybe you'll even find some ideas and advice from folks here. Please keep us posted!
One last question and then we’ll let you get on with your day: What’s for dinner at your house tonight? And thanks so much for taking the time to chat with HOMEGROWN, Sharon. Really good to have you here!
Thank you so much for welcoming me into the HOMEGROWN fold, and giving me the chance to babble!
It's going to be a crazy-busy day around here, so tonight's dinner will be courtesy of the Crockpot: chicken thighs with a jar of salsa verde, some cumin, garlic, and onion, served over brown rice. I'll add a salad or watermelon, and of course some sauteed squash, and call it good enough. Not a gourmet meal, but tasty (and easy)!
Thanks again, Jennifer! I had a blast chatting with you!