HealthBarn USA had a great time with grown-ups at the barn on Saturday, March 17 for the Organic Veggie Workshop from 8:30 – 1:00 p.m.  The weather was perfect for gardening and we were able to spend a good part of the workshop getting our hands dirty.  Stacey, founder and CEO, lead the workshop and stressed the importance of learning how-to plant edible fruits, vegetables and herbs from people who farm, and not lecture about it!  She lives in Manhattan and never grew a veggie until she started HealthBarn USA at Abma’s Farm in 2005.  Her first veggie was zucchini and now we can’t get her out of the garden.

There was quite a range of talent with us for the workshop from the Hoffman’s who are real pro’s to first-timers with no experience.  We started out right away planting a pea seed in a recycleable pot so we could take it home to make sure it grows into a seedling before transplanting it outside.  And, started right away with a list of the fruits and veggies we like to eat!  From there we decided what we could grow now and how (seeds, seedlings, etc).  Here are the highlights:

– Soil is key and get your soil tested to determine the nutrient composition right away; or use organic matter in raised beds;
– Plant in a sunny place (at least 6-8 hours) of direct sunlight and near a water source;
– There are three major plantings — early spring (now), late spring (late May) and late summer (end of August);
– Start now from seed — kale, peas, beans, lettuce, spinach, radishes, carrots and beets;
– Plant the following seedlings by end of April or early May:  tomato, zucchini, bell peppers (or hot ones too), broccoli, Brussel sprouts;
– Plant potato eyes in the April/May and make sure to “mound” them as they grow;
– Plant garlic in the October for Spring 2013;
– Monitor insect situation carefully as no one can predict what it’s going to be like given that the ground never froze this winter season in NJ — so nothing died!

We had a hardy lunch with lots of vegetables that included spinach pesto pasta, a mixed green salad with flaxseed oil dressing and chocolate chip chippers for dessert before heading down to the garden to compost and make some raised beds.  Everyone had a great time and we are gearing up for our next organic veggie workshop on Saturday, May 12 from 8:30 – 1:00 p.m.  Please contact Molly Fallon at 201-891-2066 to sign up today.

From our garden to your table, start a veggie garden this year because it’s cool to grow your own food and it’s fun!  Please share your garden tips and successes with us at the barn!  Thank you.

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