Before I ever met Brian Herbel, I marveled at his beautiful artichokes, potatoes, and cauliflower. His garden is right next to mine at the Northside Community Garden.
I got to sit down with him recently, and found out that he is not only a fabulous gardener at the Northside, but also shares his gardening knowledge with others as a Leadership Committee Member. I asked Brian some questions about his role with the Leadership Committee.
How did you first become interested in being on the Leadership Committee? It had always been on my radar, but I was wary of being able to participate fully as I’m away a lot for work. But over time I got to know the board members, Ingrid, Linda, Adam, and Sue, and was invited to join.
What have you found to be most rewarding about being Leadership Committee? I just like being involved and part of the community, absorbing knowledge from fellow gardeners. I’ve only been gardening in earnest for a few years. It’s fun to exchange information with others. Someone recently approached me in the garden and asked if it was too late too plant spinach and carrots and beets and I said, it’s never too late! You can always experiment. All they will do is grow, or not grow.
What’s your favorite vegetable, fruit, or flower to grow? Artichokes! If you plant starts early and let a couple of hard frosts hit the starts it tricks them into thinking a whole year has gone by and they’ll produce early. It has also been satisfying to get them it over winter. Shallots have also been fun. . . and most things we cook with often.
What has been your favorite dish that you have prepared or that you have eaten at a potluck? I’ve grown celery for making ants on a log and also often make North African roasted cauliflower. I like making pies, too. I went to this place Eckert’s Stage Stop and one time they had mystery pie. If you guess what it is, you get the slice free. I thought it was pear pie but it was actually zucchini pie baked in the way of an apple pie! Mystery abounds at Eckert’s. I also like making pasta dough and using garden surplus as ravioli fillings.
What has been the most challenging about being on the Leadership Committee? I’m such a new member it’s hard to say. There hasn’t been any yet.
What is the best advice you can offer gardeners? Plant early, especially potatoes, onions, and shallots. Do anything you can to extend our growing season. I plant my potatoes in early May. I planted the shallots with the garlic last fall. Plant early as well as late, such as plant carrots in July to get them in October. Also, canning and pickling is a satisfying way to preserve what you have.
A special thanks to Brian for sharing his knowledge and time with other gardeners!