Friday, March 26, 2010

He Fooled Around & Fell in Love with Plants

Elvin Bishop loves to garden. And though perhaps best known for his gold-record Rhythm-and-Blues classics like "I Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” Bishop, 62, is serious when it comes to growing things. For 27 years, along with his wife Cara and daughter Emily, he's been cultivating a medley of flowers, vegetables, herbs, berries and fruits around his Marin County, California home.
(See the photo on the left.)

He uses Toro’s brown-colored in-line emitter tubing in much of his garden. (As recommended in my book Drip Irrigation, Foe Every Landscape and All Climates.) The photo is a close up of his beans with in-line drip tubing.

Bishop's interest in Oriental vegetables was initiated by his marriage to Cara Wada, whose Japanese-American heritage and traditional cooking style brought more far-eastern vegetables into her husband's diet, then into his garden. “Cara's family made me aware of different tasty Oriental vegetables. I figure if it tastes good, then it’s worth growing. Besides, it’s nice to have vegetables to give away to the family.”

Many Oriental vegetables are members of the cabbage or crucifer family (Brassica spp.) and thrive in moderate weather. In the Marin-County "Mediterranean" climate, winter gardening makes good sense; plenty of winter rain keeps things moist and, after temperatures drop, the cold keeps most pests (including the aphids and root maggots which can thwart summer plantings, but not, unfortunately, slugs and snails) at bay.

The secret to a garden which can be harvested from mid-winter through the following spring is timing, and Bishop’s sense of the rhythm of the seasons is finely tuned. His brief recipe for cultivating Brassicas : choose seed for early-, mid- and late-season crops to spread the harvest. Seed everything on June 1st in six-packs, using sterile potting mix. In two to three weeks, transplant deeply into four-inch pots. Set out into the garden at the beginning of July. Shade for several days if the weather is hot. Water till the rains begin. Weed as needed and harvest when ready.

Reaping the Rewards
In addition to its other rewards, Bishop's garden offers an abundance of produce; each year he personally puts up about 300 jars of beans, corn, pickled beets, dill pickles, applesauce, apple juice, peaches, plums, pears, tomatoes and various jams, including kiwi.

Elvin Bishop may sing the blues for a living, but in his garden, life is sweet.


Let me know what you think.Visit my web site to learn about my new book on drip irrigation and other gardening books.NOTE: The comments section at the bottom of the post has disappeared. Click on the "___ Comments" button or the title under the "Blog Archives". Thanks, Robert

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