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Month: March 2008

Locals Reveal All

Cape Island, the extended area south of Cape May canal that includes the city of Cape May, West Cape May, Cape May Point and parts of Lower Township, is an ancient and storied destination spot that has served as a playground for travelers grand and humble for hundreds of years.

And like any respectable and venerable metropolis, the island is slow to reveal its secrets. Always the virtuous Victorian, Cape Island doesn’t just peel back her petticoats for every shiny carload of sun worshippers that passes by. Ask any of the locals – they’re not always so easy to spot – and they’ll probably tell you that Cape May is a city of secrets. Of course when the population drops to around 4,000 souls in mid-January, and there’s not much to do except sit around and talk about other people’s secrets, well, secrets don’t stay secrets for too long.

It never hurts to have a little help finding things.

So I checked with some of the most fashionable, frugal, and fresh-faced locals in the area for their ideas on where to go for everything from a butcher and a baker to a candlestick maker. I asked them to reveal some secrets and here are a few they let loose. Check it out.

First, not sure where everything is? Grab a free copy of The Friends of Cape Island’s fabulous map/route guide entitled Car Free/Care Free on Cape May Island, NJ. It’s a biking, walking and birding map and it’s quite helpful, so grab it and get familiar. The map is available at various spots around town (including Whale’s Tale on the Washington Street Mall – my wife loves that store, yours will too – grab a quick brew at the world-famous Ugly Mug just up the street while she shops). The map is also available at the Welcome/Transportation Center on Lafayette Street.

Now, waddya need first? Haircut? Yeah, we know that deal.

Your best bud’s getting married at “the cove” tomorrow and bridezilla told you not to show up unless you get that mop cropped, right? Try John’s Barber and Style Shop, 1352 Washington Street. “A nice neighborhood barber,” John is famous for his “drive-in haircut” and you can get a shave there too.

And you girls? Be you bride or bridesmaid or just a girl who needs a new ‘do, Heather at Heather’s Hair Salon, also on Washington Street, is the perfect stop and convenient too. Heather’s technique is particularly great for you curly-headed gals or the gal who wants her hair color exactly like Julianne Moore’s.

Plan ahead though. Heather’s appointment calendar books up quickly. Feel like venturing off the island? Well before you do, pop over to West Cape May and give Artizan Salon & Spa on Park Blvd. or Accent on Beauty on Sunset Blvd a try. Now off the island, the fashionista in the “your best bud’s getting married at the cove” bunch agreed to give up one of her favorite secrets for the sake of this article. Her recommendation? Hair Cuttery in the Bayshore Mall, North Cape May! Sean is your man, she claims. Now before you roll in there for a Mrs. Physick cut (visit capemaymac.org for that reference), know that Sean sports a blue mohawk, tattoos and plenty of piercings, but according to our fashionista, “he cuts hair likes nobody’s business.” Plus Hair Cuttery only charges $15 (so leave a nice tip).

We may as well stick with the wedding theme seeing as Cape May is one of the top three spots in the country to tie the knot. If you don’t know where to take your vows, well I can’t help you – call the mayor – but for a relaxing massage before you take the leap, call Touch and Go Massage. Certified massage therapist Kathy Kint will come to you, where ever you may be. Kathy also has a studio on Clearwater Drive in North Cape May. Cape May Day Spa, with locations in Congress Hall and on Franklin Street, is luxurious and worth the price.

Now if you need some party supplies for that wedding… oh, OK enough of the wedding. How ‘bout party supplies for a party happening, say, after one of the fabulous productions at Cape May Stage on Lafayette Street (best theater within 100 miles, along with the American classics of East Lynne Theater). Head to Swain’s Hardware. Swain’s? Really now, must I go on? Center of town, sorta, and a true institution. Yes, it is a hardware store. It is also the best-kept secret in town. You can get everything at Swain’s from a grill to elegant outdoor dining ware to party lights to tiki torches. Your stop for party hats, fancy themed paper plates and streamers is that old standby, the chain drugstore. There is a CVS on Myrtle Avenue in West Cape May. If it’s party balloons you need, Dellas General Store has an assortment of Mylar balloons, plus the helium to go with them.

While you’re in that section of town, Cape May’s best packaged goods store is, drum roll, Collier’s. On the Beach front, the Promenade Restaurant located at the Montreal Hotel on Beach Avenue also has quite a nice liquor store. If you’re out in North Cape May, it’s Gorman’s in Bayshore Mall, on Bayshore Road next to the Acme Grocery Store.

Back to the butcher, baker and candlestick maker. Westside Market on Broadway in West Cape May has what you need. Westside is straight out of the old Andy Griffith Show. Wooden floors and a staff that’ll remember what you’re having after a few orders. Westside has cold cuts and party trays and is known as a fine caterer. Drop by, hang around outside a bit and greet the West Cape Mayans as they saunter in.

Baker? Well there are a three. A Ca Mia Bakery on the Mall is a French bakery with a great reputation. They have a great selection, but their bread is what keeps the locals happy. It’s simply authentic. There’s the Bakers Shoppe on Broadway, a new kid on the block, and Cape May Bakers on Perry Street across from Wilbraham Park is a local favorite with great fresh-baked selections. Get there early. But they don’t make donuts in the winter. I’ve been dying to say something about that. I mean what’s up? Locals don’t get donuts in winter? Wawa is pretty good for donuts. In fact, Wawa is pretty good for a lot of things, with locations on Bank Street and Texas Avenue.

And for a candlestick maker, one of Cape Island’s favorite haunts for candles is Good Scents on the Carpenter’s Lane side of the Mall on Jackson (close to the ghosts). Neatly tucked behind the mall, simply fabulous and still unspoiled, Good Scents has a great vibe inside and quality merchandise including fashionable and well-priced jewelry, candles, books, cool stuff, and music. Music choices include CDs from local favorite Bluebone. Don’t know Bluebone? Mayers Tavern off Route 109 just this side of the Cape May bridge on Saturdays. Great food at Mayers too. The crowd is a lot of locals and fishermen, but don’t be intimidated.

Man, after all that I could go for a steaming cup of java. I, as well as a bunch of other locals, recommend one place – Magic Brain in Carpenter’s Square Mall on Congress Street. It’s one of my favorite spots on the island. A few months back, I needed to access my email quickly. I simply cruised into Magic Brain, ordered the house Nantucket blend (I‘m a straight-up coffee guy but owner Drew Robinson has a great and varied menu and plenty of great munchies), then I bought some internet time, logged on and accessed my email. Drew also has a wireless connection if you bring your own laptop.

   How ‘bout just a few miscellaneous items like, oh I don’t know, pet grooming. In West Cape May, there’s Kasey’s Canine Castle on Park Boulevard. For an upscale pooch pampering, Boche the Bichon recommends Carriage House Grooming on Seashore Road in Cold Spring. And our contributing paison recommends A Place for Pets on Bayshore Road in Villas. “Great team there,” he said. “My dog loves ‘em.”

Speaking of pets we also recommend Cape May Veterinary Hospital just across the canal on Petticoat Creek Lane. D.V.M.s Bob Panaccio and Bob Moffat are true pros who care about their patients. And Bob Moffat throws a heck of a party. He helped organize the Guinness Book of World Record’s longest dinner table during a 125th anniversary celebration in the Borough of Cape May Point.

Dry cleaners and laundry service, Model Cleaners on Texas Avenue; crib rental, Wildwood Crib Rental on Pacific in Wildwood; optician, Arlene Gorny-Hughes, OD, on Columbia Avenue; jewelry repair, Victorious Antiques in Congress Hall and Pat Jackson on Bank Street.

Need a good mechanic? Me too, let me know. I guess a good mechanic is hard to find and the locals are not giving up that bit of info. Either that or they all ride bikes. Speaking of bikes, try Cape Island Bikes at Howard and Beach as well as at Sunset Blvd, heading out to the point. Also try Village Bike Shop on Lafayette next to Depot Market (they’re friendly) and Shields on Gurney.

For boating supplies try Sea Gear on Route 109, accessible by driving under the bridge; cleaning service, Gophers in Wildwood (“gawd I wish I could afford one”).

 A tan? Nobody I know does the fake kind, so try Queen Street for the hip crowd, Poverty Beach for more mellow and “the cove” after 5 pm if you’re a local. Of course, you could go out to Higbee Beach on New England Road to avoid the crowds.

Beach umbrella, beach chair, beach toys are all available from Steger’s Beach Service located on various beaches throughout Cape May. Otherwise try Swain’s Ace hardware. For groceries there’s an Acme on the corner of Lafayette and Ocean and for everything else – suntan lotion, digital camera supplies, after-sun lotion – there’s the CVS in WCM.

For more info go to CapeMay.com and if you can’t find it there, just drop the nice folks there an email; they’re pretty knowledgeable and they’ll get back to you before summer.

If you need anything else, ask a local.


Find your inner chef

Disney got it right!  After watching Ratatouille again, the message came through loud and clear: Find your inner chef and anyone can cook. This is the mantra I have been shouting for years.

So how does one go about finding their inner chef? First start small, cooking like music, painting and even sports require focus and working on the basics. Most people don’t sit down at a piano and play Beethoven flawlessly.  Attempting a soufflé or beef Wellington on your first foray into the kitchen is just as unrealistic.

So where to start in the kitchen? Start with knife technique and learning to work a sauté pan. I hear the grumbling now, “I want to make food and feed people.” Start with western omelets practice dicing onions, ham and green peppers. Work on controlling the knife and making the food all the same size. Consistent cuts make for food that cooks evenly and eats evenly. Cooking an egg is an easy task to accomplish yet a hard one to perfect.

Andres Soltner, the famed Alsatian Chef of Lutece in New York, used to audition his dinner cooks by having them make an omelet. His reasoning being, that perfectly cooked eggs require a delicate touch and care to execute. The patience and care it takes to make a perfect omelet – soft golden, no touches of brown – requires heat control and cooking with all your senses. You need to listen to the butter hit the hot pan, swirl it gently. Watch it melt, looking for hot spots. Whisk your eggs well, a splash of milk or water will add some steam and lift to your omelet. Next comes moving the eggs around just enough, then letting them alone to set at the right time, a quick flip and add your toppings, or you can sauté them first and then add your eggs. It’s all a matter of personal preference.

Sounds complicated. I just took 250 plus words to describe making an omelet. Lincoln used 246 words to detail the State of the Union in the Gettysburg Address. The point is that cooking is a free flowing art that words and technical manuals cannot adequately explain. The key is repetition of a dish and technique so it flows from your heart and soul and not your brain. I have screwed up many a simple dish by over thinking and not following my instincts.
The patience required in making perfect omelets will show in the rest of your cooking.

Take this approach with everything you make. Don’t follow the recipe blindly, but understand it first. Read the recipe and make note of what equipment you need and set it aside. Read the recipe again and look at the ingredients look to see how they will be prepared i.e. sautéed, baked, boiled. Understand how long they will cook for and when and how you will season. Look to see how the dish should look. Chop and assemble all your ingredients. At this point when all the tools are assembled, all the food is prepared to begin cooking, and you comprehend the recipe – then you are ready to cook. Professional chefs call this Mise en place, a place for everything and everything in its place. Follow these guidelines and you will discover even classic intimidating dishes will be easy to cook. Try this approach with the following two dishes Coq Au Vin and Beef Stroganoff. One guideline regarding the use of fresh herbs: in quick cooking dishes, they should be added near the end. Use dried herbs for dishes that require longer cooking.
Enjoy conquering these classics. Until next month, Bon Appétit.


Coq Au Vin

This recipe is similar to the classic version made famous (in America) by Julia Child. In France, an old rooster would be used.

Equipment Needed

  • Large saucepan with lid or Dutch oven
  • Wooden spoon
  • Tongs
  • Cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Whisk

Ingredients

  • Slab bacon cut it ¼” x 1 ½” strips
  • 1 3 Pound chicken cut into 8 pieces, dried thoroughly
  • ¼ Cup olive oil
  • ¼ Cup cognac
  • Kosher salt, black pepper
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • ½ Teaspoon dried thyme
  • 24 Pearl onions, peeled
  • ¼ Cup seasoned flour
  • 3½ Cups red wine Cote du Rhône, or burgundy
  • 2 Cups chicken stock
  • 2 Cloves minced garlic
  • ½ Pound mushrooms, quartered

Heat pan. Add olive oil. Brown bacon until crisp. Drain. Remove. Set aside. Flour chicken. Brown in oil and bacon fat. Remove. Set aside. Sauté onions. Lightly deglaze with cognac. Add chicken back in. Add thyme, bay leaves. Cover. Simmer 10 minutes. Add red wine. Simmer 5 minutes. Add garlic and chicken stock. Simmer, covered 25 minutes Add mushrooms. Simmer 5 minutes until mushrooms are cooked. Add bacon back in. Remove chicken. Simmer until sauce coats back of spoon. Spoon sauce over chicken. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Beef Stroganoff

  • 2 Pounds beef tenderloin, julienned
  • 1 Large white onion, julienned
  • 3 Cups mushrooms quartered
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 Dozen cornichons, quartered
  • 6 Ounces sour cream
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Cups beef stock
  • 1 Pound egg noodles, cooked
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat oil in heavy sauté pan. Season beef. Brown quickly in oil, small batches at a time. Add butter. Sauté onions. Add mushrooms. Sauté 4-5 minutes. Dust with flour. Stir until absorbed. Add warm beef stock. Simmer. Add mustard and cornichons. Simmer until sauce thickens and flour taste is cooked out. Add beef back in. Whisk in sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat. Simmer serve over buttered egg noodles. Garnish with chopped parsley.


African American Heritage

Here’s my question, if a segment of a community’s history is demolished because of a well-intentioned government program called, ironically enough, Urban Renewal – does said history still exist?

Cape May’s Afro-American history nearly faded into the haze of demolition dust, but when a group of mostly white local artists got together in 1994 and went looking for a good arts center, they took a second look at the Franklin Street School. The school was built as a segregated school for the city’s black elementary students. It continued as such from 1928-1948, the year the State of New Jersey outlawed segregation.

The summer of ’91 also brought some tension between Afro-American youths and Cape May’s summer police. When the artists approached the black community about restoring the school and turning it into a community arts center, the two groups merged and began working in tandem to renovate the school and gather more information about the graduates who went there. By learning about the graduates, historians began to learn more about the way things were in the Afro-American community before the impact of Urban Renewal began in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Twelve years later the Center for Community Arts (CCA) is in the midst of an extensive renovation of the Franklin Street School and has developed an African American Walking Tour of Cape May, retracing the steps of those who once worked, lived and thrived in Cape May. The tour begins in front of CCA headquarters at 712 Lafayette Street, moves over to the Franklin Street School on Franklin Street and then proceeds west to the Irish Shop at Lafayette and Jackson streets.
In the 1920s Afro-Americans comprised about 30 percent of Cape May’s population. Nearly 60 of the businesses in the district were owned by African Americans.

So picture this – if you’re standing in the parking lot of the Irish Shop (which used to be the English Shop back in the day) on the corner of Lafayette and Jackson streets looking across the street to Rotary Park, you are in the heart of the Afro-American business district. The location of the Irish Shop was the Douglas Hotel – locals remember the segregated hotel by its nickname, “The Bedbug Inn.” Not exactly your upscale accommodations spot, I’m guessing.

Around the corner on Jackson Street at Perry Street, where Mariah’s, Guardian Angel and the Bamboo Shack are located, was another blacks-only hotel called the New Cape May Hotel, owned by a man by the name of Richardson.
Next door, where Cape Savings Bank stands today, was the site of the Opera House, owned by prominent Afro-American businessman Edward Dale, described by those who remember him as being an elegant man who owned several businesses in town, including the Dale Hotel at the corner of Lafayette and Jefferson streets (the brick building is all that is left of the hotel).

People came there to see movies the Opera House, to attend boxing matches and to see concerts which showcased local as well as nationally famous artists. Because blacks were not permitted inside the white USO, located on the second floor of the four-story Focer-Mecray Building on Washington Street – now the site of the Victorian Towers – another Urban Renewal inspired project – during WWII, the Opera House served as USO for black servicemen. Paul Robeson entertained to a full house there in 1943 when he appeared by special invitation to dedicate the building as the black USO.

Colliers Liquor Store was a speakeasy run by the current owner’s uncle. Then it became Charlie’s Bar and then Collier’s Liquor Store. There was no Rotary Park. Lafayette and Mansion and Chestnut streets were filled with boarding houses, private residences and black-owned businesses. Many blacks came to Cape May at the turn of the century to help build the railroad. Empty lots in town at that time were cheap and they bought them with the money earned by working on the railroad.

Bill Allison and Edward Dale, were among those men who worked hard, saved their money and invested it wisely. Allison was one of the wealthiest businessmen in Cape May and owned quite a number of properties. He ran a pool hall located where the Rotary Park gazebo is now. Often, according to the recollection of folks who grew up during that era, Allison welcomed local teenagers to play pool to keep them off the streets and out of mischief. His daughter Elizabeth still lives in West Cape May and his other daughter Kitty owned a beauty parlor on Jackson Street.

Allison also owned a guesthouse for resort workers and tradespeople. Someone walking along Lafayette or Mansion Street in the heydays from the turn of the century to the late fifties would have found strong community of black-owned or managed businesses. Along with Allison’s Pool Hall and boarding house, was an auto mechanic, a carpenter, a plasterer, a blacksmith and a wallpaper hanger. There was an employment agency on Mansion Street for African Americans looking for summer employment. There were also four drugstores in town, one of them at the corner of Washington and Decatur streets – all with soda fountains – and several small grocery stores. These establishments catered to both a white and black clientele.

Broad Street was another neighborhood of black-owned businesses, according the late Jack Vasser who died in 2003 and was the mayor of West Cape May for more than 30 years .He was the third generation of a family that owned several pieces of property and a trash pick up business in both communities.
Stephen Smith, one of the richest black men east of the Mississippi in pre-Civil War Cape May, summered on 645 Lafayette Street. A Philadelphia industrialist, he founded the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church also located on Franklin Street.

Smith’s house was targeted, along with everything else standing between Franklin and Mansion streets, for demolition, when Amelia Hampton, who owns the house and still summers there, appealed to then President Lyndon B. Johnson to save the historic home. LBJ responded immediately, via Western Union telegram, forbidding its destruction.

By the 1960s much of the area that once thrived had become, like Cape May in general, dilapidated and vulnerable to the wrecking crane. In place of bustling businesses patronized by both white and black patrons, Rotary Park and Lyle Lane (which basically serves as a parking lot for the Washington Street Mall) were built instead. In addition to the Stephen Smith House, only three structures are left from those Victorian, two-story clapboard buildings – the building housing Mariah, et al; Island Grill, formerly the Mansion House and prior to that still owned by descendents of an African American family; and Colliers Liquor Store.

Even the churches have morphed in this day of condo-mania. The Franklin Street Methodist Church was built in 1879 as a Baptist church and is a key building contributing to Cape May’s status as a National Historic Landmark. This church had a tower that enhances its classic Victorian Gothic Revival architecture, but it was destroyed by lightening. Around town it is simply known as the “Yellow Church.” It was sold and converted to condominiums two years ago as part of a Designer House project.

Although it started out as a Baptist Church, the Baptist congregation moved to its present location on Gurney and Columbia in 1913 because the white congregation wanted to leave the increasingly black neighborhood. A black Methodist congregation moved in and was active until the sale of the building.
Work continues on the Franklin Street School in preparation for a grand reopening slated for next year, and while many work on the façade the other building, others diligently are working to recreate the oral and physical history of this once vibrant African American business district. According to Community History Committee chair and CCA board member Harry Bellengy, the hope is that from a segregated past, an integrated future will result.
The African American Heritage Walking Tour of Cape May, sponsored by CC, will resume in April, weather permitting and will be offered on Thursdays and Saturdays at 11 a.m. leaving from CCA at 712 Lafayette Street.
Ed. Note: Our thanks to the CCA  for allowing us the use of their photos and to Mr. Bellengy, and CCA history committee member Hope Gaines for their input. Much of the information in the article came from the African American Heritage Walking Tour script.


Starting your garden naturally

It is time to begin the garden! I love an old fashioned garden. An enchanting kitchen garden is a wonderful place to work, relax and enjoy nature. A colorful, fragrant kitchen garden can be as large as a vacant lot or as small as a series of pots on the porch. It can be the entire set up of your yard if you choose.
Always begin by planting some fruiting vines and shrubs on the south side of the garden or yard. I like beach plums, blueberries, raspberries and black berries. A few fruit trees on the north if there is space are pretty and useful. I find that plums, cherries and pears take very little maintenance and reward us with fruit. Since our garden is fenced in I have these plants on the outside. At either end there are herbs and flowers also on the outside of the fence. On the inside we plant flowers, vegetables and herbs. The early garden has peas, radishes, lettuce, parsley, dill, beets and arugula. Poppies, Larkspur and Calendula are the first flowers we plant for May bloom.
Later when it warms up we plant tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, beans, peppers, flowers and lots of herbs, especially basil.
Now that spring is near, we are getting ready to garden. My husband Ted has been spreading compost and pulling out old plants that remained since fall. We are getting seeds ready and making lists of plants that we will need.
Spring is officially here when we have equal hours of dark and light. Called the vernal or spring equinox, this is one of our four seasonal changes that occur during the year. The first day of spring is usually March 20 or 21, depending on what day the sun is right over the equator.Remember, the sun isn’t moving the earth is. As the earth revolves around the sun, the top half, called the Northern Hemisphere, becomes tilted more toward the sun as winter turns to spring.
“Equinox” comes from Latin and means “equal nights.” Sunrise and sunset will be about twelve hours apart everywhere on Earth and by the 21st day is a little longer than the night. I was born on this equinox during a snowstorm and have seen many of these spring snows come in a furry only to soon melt away.
I have always thought of March as a bridge between winter and spring. It seems often one season crosses the bridge only to be pushed back by the other. Many say spring is a time of transition for all of nature. There are very cold and snowy days, but also soft days and sometimes wet stormy days. Some of the biggest snowfalls have happened around the first day of spring.
Usually we plant our early garden by St. Patrick’s Day, weather permitting. If it is too icy, the peas remain in the pack as will the lettuce. Wet, cold earth should stop you in your tracks from turning the soil.
Today, more than ever, gardeners must be in tune with the environment. We must strive to appreciate the fragile nature of our surroundings and help to restore a balance in nature by sound natural gardeningpractices. One thing all gardeners should have in common is a commitment to Mother Earth. Gardeners are protectors of the environment and links to all of gardening history. We carry a tradition set by poet and peasants, one that strives to best improve the plot in which plants are grown for use and delight. Literature from the ancient Greeks, Romans and Persians lauds the good agriculture practices of the environmentally sensitive gardeners.
Even then many people were keepers of the earth and had beautiful gardens. Later in history the monks of the Middle Ages kept alive the gardening knowledge of those highpoints in bucolic life and once againbecame stewards of the earth. We can learn much from this gentle community of gardeners. They were aware that gardening refreshed the troubled spirit, but that also conscientious gardening refreshed the earth.
Gardening is now said to be one of the most predominant hobbies in America as well as in many other countries.  This is a good thing as long as people garden naturally and with care. It is so important to tend the garden with the thought of improving the soil and replenishing not ruining resources.
  Replenishing the soil
Whether the garden is in a large pot or a large plot, soil is of utmost importance. There are many ways to improve the soil in a natural way. The most important is to make a compost pile in which all organic materials from both house and garden are stowed so that they might best decompose. Compost is very beneficial when added to a garden as it provides nutrients to plants in a slow-release, balanced manner that the plant needs to grow, but it also improves the soil for the long range.
Clay soils need this as often as possible to aerate them so that they don’tpack and sandy soils benefit as the organic materials helps retain moisture.  But the best thing of all about compost is that making it uses up all those leaves and grass clippings as well as kitchen scraps and will insure that what is taken out of the earth goes back.
The process can be as simple as a heap behind a shed, a ring of chicken wire that can be moved from spot to spot or an elaborate gadget ordered from a garden catalog. We have even made large piles using four pallets, tied into a square, with one side removable for turning the pile. Some folks simply make holes in the garden all year round and bury kitchen scraps. Others mulch with grass clippings and shredded leaves.
Some folks follow certain rules for making compost, other just wing it, but just remember that you need to create a good environment for allowing decay-producing microorganisms to break down the materials.  Some folks say your need four ingredients that are layered and turned. This is a common recipe found in many garden books.

Compost recipe

  • 4 parts brown ingredients
  • (dry leaves, dry grass, shredded newspaper, straw)
  • 1 part green material (fresh grass clippings, weeds, garden trimmings and kitchen scraps)
  • barnyard manure (we often increase this when Ted cleans the hen house)

Water when dry. Air for oxygen (turn pile to aerate)

***

One of the nicest kitchen gardens I have seen is at the home of my friendKaren and her husband John in Cape May. When I saw this garden I really did think ‘enchanted garden.’ It was set up in a manner in which the vegetables and flowers were just beautiful.

Remember your plot is your pallet and you can create what ever design you like. Rows edged by a fence with herbs or roses or blocks of color like a patchwork quilt. Since most of the vegetables and plants are annuals, you can redesign each year if you want to.

Plan first, then plant. So whether your garden is big and old or new and small, dig in!  Gardening is great!

For more articles on timely garden topics check out under articles,www.tripleoaks.com.