This week we visit with Linda and Jack Grup, at Highland
Lake Inn in Flat Rock, North, Carolina. Highland Lake Inn
is located in the mountains on 26 beautiful acres. In 2002
we first visited Highland Lake Inn, looked at their garden
and cooked, for our viewers, a scrumptious meal using many
items freshly picked from their garden. It was a memorable
meal. We visit again this year attempting to learn more
about their techniques that make this working garden - that
feeds on a daily basis 100-150 people - effective. Many
ideas discussed should help you and your garden become more
productive. Chris Khare is the head gardener and shares
his knowledge with Dr. Rick and our audience.
Although many parts of this region have
experienced drought conditions this year, this area has
received approximately 300% of the seasonal average of rainfall.
The excessive amount of rain has encouraged weeds, bugs
and fungus and has made it essential that Chris try new
plants and new varieties in addition to their old favorites.
Some have worked better than others, Chris views it all
as a learning experience. He feels that it is important
for all gardeners to realize that during the year rarely
does everything progress perfectly. He shares with us today
some tips that should help us get through, even excel during
adverse weather conditions.
Swiss Chard, Bright Lights, has grown
well this season. It is called Bright lights because it
has different colored stems - pink, yellow, even deep red.
All taste the same, however. When tender, they are served
as a baby green, fresh in salads. When larger they bunch
it, chop it, simmer and braze it, using it as a brazed green.
It's very tasty. The leaves and stems can all be eaten.
The stems can be substituted for Asparagus, rolled in butter
and bread crumbs and baked. They're fantastic.
This is normally a spring or early summer
crop. The rain and weather have helped this crop last all
season. To achieve the longevity Chris has mulched with
grass clippings to keep the soil cool. If the bugs get bad
he sprays early in the morning with Neem Oil or Rotinon.
If it doesn't rain in the afternoon, washing off his potion,
the bugs are kept at bay and the plants hold up fairly well.
Chris has had good success with Squash
this season as well. Many gardeners found Squash to be quite
challenging this year because it has been too hot, too dry
or to wet. Chris feels his key to success has been multiple
plantings. He planted the first of May, the first of June
and the first of July. This has resulted in a long season
of picking Squash.
Chris and the Chef went through a catalog
and picked different Squash seeds, among others, Green Zephyr.
The Green Zephyr has done well in its fight against Squash
Bugs and Borers. As well, the Colorado Potato Beetle is
another natural predator. It chews the leaves, skeletalizing
them. The leaves are important in energizing the fruit,
thus important to the success of the plant. To combat these
pests he uses Neem Oil and a little fish emulsion and sprays
in the morning when the bugs are most active. The Neem Oil
is applied to eradicate the bugs. Neem Oil supposedly comes
from the Neem Tree, it is reasonably organic and acts as
a pretty good general insecticide, a nice fungicide and
a mitacide. The fish emulsion is intended to provide a boost
to the plant and help it overcome the negative effects of
the bugs. Fish emulsion is ground up fish waste that is
high in Nitrogen, it has some Potassium and Phosphorus.
It helps keep the plants green and growing. Chris uses foliar
feeding so the plants absorb the mixture through their leaves.
For the restaurant they pick frequently,
targeting the baby Squash. Picking the young, tender fruit
keeps the plant productive for a longer period of time and
the Squash tastes better, the flavor is better. They mix
crab meat and cheese and put that into a secret batter,
fry it, then stuff the mixture into the squash flowers.
Very tasty. The flower holds all the good stuff in.
It is estimated that most gardeners use
twice as much water as they actually need. We can create
a beautiful garden and use significantly less water. One
strategy for saving water is to utilize water zoning. This
refers to selecting plants of differing water needs and
placing them in different parts of the garden. Water efficient
sites are organized around three different zones.
The plants that need the least amount
of water, plants that can virtually take care of themselves,
once established, go in low water use areas. Plants like
Ornamental Grasses, many Cacti, plants native to arid regions
would go in this area.
The next area consists of plants requiring
moderate amounts of water. 50%-60% of most gardens consist
of plants in this category. These are plants that are reasonably
drought tolerant. However, during the first several years,
when getting established, they need extra care. Japanese
Maples, Azaleas, Rhododendrons fall in this category.
High water use zones are typically areas
we want to accent. Areas around the front door or near a
patio, are areas where one might want seasonal color or
visual impact. Annuals that consume a lot of water fall
into this category. Impatiens, Begonias, large leafed plants
like Squash, even Corn are examples. Be judicious with high
water areas because they require more watering and higher
This concept is more difficult in established
landscapes. It is certainly easier to start fresh and develop
these areas. Water can be conserved and bills reduced considerably
by utilizing this concept.
Gardeners love both flowers and vegetables.
When one can combine both it's a plus. Chris has some Marigolds
that are edible. Tagetes Tenuifolia, Tangerine Gem Marigold
has a beautiful little flower and it tastes like a Tangerine.
The fragrance is overpowering, a wonderful Tangerine scent.
They taste like Tangerines and can be scattered on salads,
with orange slices. Or utilized on a dessert like Key Lime
Pie. It has a fine, serrated foliage and is a low growing
plant. It is easy to control, if it grows too tall cut it
back to keep it from falling over. Chris cuts it back once
or twice in the early part of summer.
As well, Chris has a lemon flavored Marigold
that is similar to the Tangerine Gem. It has a scent like
Hollyhock is another edible plant, one
you may have seen at your grandmothers'. It is a bi-annual
that seeds out very well. It takes two seasons to grow.
In the fall it might put on leaves which last through the
winter, especially a mild winter. The following spring it
should produce flowers and eventually seed, then start the
process again. This is used more as a show garnish than
a taste garnish. The white and purple, accents some dishes
very well. The taste is mild, thus could go with about anything.
Snapdragons and Cosmos can be used for
their ornamental effect as well as being edible. Since this
has been a cooler, wetter summer for Chris these plants
have had an extended period to bloom. The Cosmos has seeded
itself out several times this year; in other words, it was
planted in the spring, it produced seeds, those seeds dropped
and more plants have come back. This plant is present in
a lot of wild flower mixes thus tolerates a wide range of
conditions, such as a high moisture and high heat in the
summertime. These are two plants that look good and taste
good as well.
Day Lily is a wonderful garden plant and
comes in a lot of different colors and it blooms most of
the season. Here they pick the whole flower and use it as
a garnish, it can be placed on plates or used on a salad
bar. The petals can be chopped and sprinkled on a salad.
They have a mild taste and a good texture almost like a
lettuce leaf. Every color has a slightly different flavor.
To Chris the reds, are a little sweeter, than the orange
or the lemon colors. The peachy pink to him is the sweetest
he's tasted. Salad dressing is a wonderful addition to these
flowers, it heightens the flavor. These too can be stuffed,
using crab meat and cheese. The buds are edible, they have
a spicy taste that disappears when they go to the flower
stage. They can be fried. This is a plant that is tough,
it stands up to bugs and most everything else and rarely
This week Georgia visits with Mark Mariani,
a landscape developer. We visit with Mark in a magical setting,
his own orchard. Mark wanted to create an orchard within
his property that the entire family could use. His kids
are involved with the orchard from the beginning of the
season to the end of the season. He has a variety of fruit
trees - Nectarine Trees, Peach Trees and special Apple Trees.
These Apple Trees are about 30 years old and there are only
about 200 of this variety in the entire world. These are
special because they have been grown and espaliered, trained
to be a certain height and lower limbs removed. They will
never grow any taller than they are presently. One can go
underneath them and see the structure, which acts like an
Mark also has Fig trees. This is unusual
because Fig trees normally don't grow in colder regions.
Mark puts these trees in a greenhouse during the winter.
If one didn't have a greenhouse they could be placed in
a cold house or a potting shed during winter.
Mark has two different varieties of Fig
Trees. One is a White Fig, the other a Brown Fig. The White
Fig blooms earlier, the Brown Fig in August.
This is a special place to visit. Mark
views it as a secondary classroom for his children. We thank
Mark for showing us his beautiful orchard.
The Fig Tree produces large quantities
of fruit, from mid to late summer. Chris and the chef use
these Figs in the restaurant, in desserts or cut in half
and placed on plates as a garnish, even as a glaze for some
of the meat dishes. The leaves can also be used, roll them
up and bake them.
The Fig Tree not only produces fruit but
it is a handsome ornamental as well. The backs of the leaves
appear very silvery with uplighting at night. Chris, to
show off the tree, likes to espalier it, trim it at the
bottom, let the branches show, it becomes an eye catcher,
a specimen. This tree is against a wall, with a walkway
in front. Most of the branches are hanging over the sidewalk,
rendering the sidewalk impassible. To trim, cut the branches
back and get a flat profile of the tree. Essentially today
we're removing horizontal branches or branches that move
out into the sidewalk, branches that give it a three dimensional
effect. The branches against the wall are left. By trimming
like this, it forces the tree to grow upright. It will grow
out but more growth will be upright.
Fig Trees, once mature, can grow to 15-20
feet tall. Once this tall birds and squirrels tend to take
all the fruit. Chris utilizes a chain saw in this situation.
Cut the tree back to about knee high in February or March.
If in a warmer climate, wait until late March. One doesn't
want an early spurt of growth zapped if a late freeze were
to occur. If cut to about knee high at the beginning of
the season this tree could grow to 6 feet tall or more within
one year and be covered with fruit. With an extensive, healthy
root system it won't be bothered, the trim actually rejuvenates
the tree and encourages new growth and fruit.
For many, Tomatoes are a must for a vegetable
garden. Chris has planted 13 different varieties and 300
Tomato plants. Again, Chris was looking for plants that
would thrive in adverse conditions. The Sungold Tomato has
done much better than the other varieties, it has held up
very well in the wet, cool climate. It looked so bad at
the beginning of the season they were sure it would fail,
in fact only 5 plants survived. But they are the best tasting,
most delicious Tomatoes. This is a good point. Depending
on the conditions, hot or cold, wet or dry, some varieties
do well, others don't. What may thrive this year may falter
next year if conditions are dramatically different. Disease
resistance is important for Tomatoes. If one can find a
variety with about half the alphabet behind the variety
name, the VFF, the NST type of Tomatoes, often one is better
off than with an heirloom Tomato. Chris' experience leads
him to believe that heirloom tomatoes aren't as productive
as some of the newer varieties. Some years they do well,
particularly if there is a long season, but they don't seem
to tolerate fungus the way newer varieties do.
The Sungold Tomato is a particularly sweet
Cherry Tomato. Chris has harvested gallons of this sweet
Tomato from one vine this year.
Carrots often present challenges. When
Chris experienced Tomato crop loss, he pulled back the black
plastic underneath. At that point there was a weed free
bed underneath. Immediately Chris planted Carrots. There
are a few weeds in the beds now but it is almost impossible
not to have some weeds. After weeding there is a carrot
Although it has been wet this year, there
is a drip irrigation system present. It is a micro drip
system and a form of crop insurance. This system puts out
about a quarter of a gallon per minute per hundred feet.
It's a very efficient, very low flow way to get water to
the plants roots. This system eliminates the worry about
over spray. A conventional sprinkler would use about 7 gallons
per minute or approximately 400 gallons of water per hour.
Thus in a drought situation the drip or micro irrigation
system is very effective and will keep the water bill down.
Water oozes out of the hose slowly, which helps reduce weeds
because there isn't as much available moisture for the weeds,
plus the water gets to the needed area.
The Carrots are doing very well. This
area has heavy soil with clay mixed in. Chris has added
a lot of organic matter and sand. As well he has selected
shorter growing varieties because the soil is heavy. The
shorter growing carrots grow faster and don't get down into
Lettuce is rarely grown in the summer
but often planted in the fall or early spring. This lettuce
is doing well and Chris once again is growing a lot of different
types. Certain types are thriving in the wetter conditions.
Chris has used compost, lettuce loves it and grass clippings
have been used as mulch. They keep the soil moist and cooler
and keep the weeds down, allowing the lettuce to grow better.
He has used a wildfire mix of seeds. This variety adds a
lot of color to the salads in the restaurant.
Dr. Rick thanks Chris for showing us his
working garden. This is a busy time of year for him but
we should all benefit from his gardening tips, especially
since he has faced some real challenges this year. Chris
says "remember, you can never stop learning in the
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