This week’s guest blogger is Derek Fell. Derek is a writer and photographer with art, travel and garden books totaling more than 2.5 million in print, plus a photo library numbering more than 150,000 images portraying plants, gardens and travel destinations. He lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, at historic Cedaridge Farm, where he cultivates an award-winning garden of flowers, fruits and vegetables. Derek’s most recent gardening books are ‘Vertical Gardening’ and ‘Grow This’, both available from Rodale. Derek has also produced a series of books about the gardens of the great French Impressionist painters, including Monet, Renoir and Cezanne, titled ‘The Magic of Monet’s Garden’, ‘Renoir’s Garden’ and ‘Cezanne’s Garden.’ For a sample copy of his on-line full-color monthly newsletter, visit The Avant Gardener.
Ever since I decided to earn a living as a garden writer, after six years experience working with Europe’s largest seed house as their catalog manager in London, and then six years as catalog manager for Burpee Seeds, in the USA, I cherished the idea of owning a small farm in order to test different gardening techniques, and also new varieties of flowers, fruits and vegetables as an impartial, independent garden writer. In 1989 I was able to acquire historic Cedaridge Farm to serve as my test garden, and also to function as an outdoor studio in order to photograph the results of my work.
The two innovations at Cedaridge Farm that have most benefited the gardening community are the perfection of a grafting technique to produce a ‘Tomato-Potato’ plant that produces tomatoes on the vine and potatoes in the soil, and the preservation of an heirloom bean, the ‘Lazy Wife’ in danger of being lost to cultivation.
You can tell the true ‘Lazy Wife’ bean (also called ‘Lazy Housewife’) from any other kind of snap bean by the shape of the pod. It is flat, about 5 ½ inches long, with the interior seeds swelling the pod to form a shape like a knuckle. Also, the beans are distinctive in that they are almost round like a pea and shiny white like polished porcelain. Pick the pods before they turn brown and brittle for a delicious meal, boiled or steamed. After the pods turn brittle, you can shell the beans and they make the best baked beans. I have harvested as many as 500 pods from a single vine.
For more information on Derek Fell, please visit http://www.derekfell.net.
Remember to tune in every Wednesday for another unique perspective on gardening!