Examining Good Vegetable Gardens

John S. veggie garden, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

The first of four big feature stories about backyard veggie gardens I wrote for The Dallas Morning News ran on Friday. It describes the garden of John Spyropoulos. He owns the popular Greenville avenue restaurant John’s Cafe.

Of the four gardens chosen for publication, this one produces the most. John told me at the peak of the season he harvests 40 pounds of tomatoes every few days. Also, I thought the tomatoes and other produce he offered me from his garden tasted the best of those all the gardeners who offered.

So what’s his secret? It was harder than I anticipated to pinpoint what made each garden so successful. Here are a few thoughts…

  • High level of time and attention. His routine includes watering every morning around 4 a.m. before he goes to the cafe. Consistency must be good.
  • Plant hardy varietals. He buys mostly plain old tomato plants from Home Depot. Celebrity, Porter, the regular heat-loving ones that work better than heirlooms. I am swearing off heirlooms until I have more success with regular tomatoes.
  • Bird netting. Yes, he covers his entire garden with it.
  • Eggshells. He tills leftover ones from the cafe into the soil twice a year. He goes through around 1,600 eggs a week so there are plenty. I may try to find a place to get some to throw in my pile.

If you have questions about this plot I am happy to answer, just comment!

Be sure to buy a paper next Friday, or just check back at this blog, for a link to the next veggie garden feature. It’s about a side yard garden that has raised beds and rain tanks!

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6 responses to “Examining Good Vegetable Gardens

  1. Sounds like tomatoes are his pride and joy. Did he grow any other veggies that seemed extraordinary to you? Are you planning on using any of his tips in your raised bed?

  2. I’d have to agree that the bird netting and the eggshells seem like they would probably help. Birds and squirrels have been hell on my tomatoes, so I’m going to try netting next year.

    I’m guessing that the egg shells work sort of like vermiculite in the Square Foot Garden dirt recipe. They loosen up the soil and keep it nice and aerated.

  3. I thought heirlooms were hardy and heat tollerant and all that. But I guess heat tolerance is a reason for hybrids. Is there a taste difference between home grown hybrids and heirlooms?

  4. Is his garden just for home, or does he use this in his cafe? I am sure it was in the article, but I could not find it. Did you shoot the video?

  5. He mainly uses the veggies at home, but when he has excess, he takes them to the cafe.

    Regarding heirlooms, they are tastier but more difficult to grow and typically have lower yields. There may be ones that work better in north Texas that I have yet to find.

  6. Buy bird netting and 100’s of other bird control products that work at http://www.AbsoluteBirdControl.com

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