10 Country: Ophelia's Garden Surprise - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Ophelia's Garden Surprise

 May 8, 2007

Sylvester ---  We're right in the throws of warm season gardening, and that's well-known to the nearly 25% of us who enjoy growing their own vegetables.

Gardening creates its own mysteries, and two avid gardeners found something most interesting in their garden, something they had never seen before.

A small, backyard garden provides a lot of old fashioned joy and convenience food for Ophelia and Willie White.

 "Whenever I want some fresh vegetables, I can come out in the back yard and get it," says Ophelia as she walks toward her potato plants with digging spade in hand.

For almost a half-century, they have loved to see what their 30 feet-by-50 feet gardens would surprise them with. "We do," says Ophelia.

Willie is especially proud of his $30 push-plow investment that continues to pay dividends.  "It's been around for a while, about 30 years. Nobody uses it but me; done got a little shaky, but it still gets the job done," says Willie as he pushes the plow with a metal wheel and wooden handles.

They look forward to visiting their garden at least once a day to find surprises.  "You know what you put down there, but never know what you are going to find," says Ophelia.

She goes treasure hunting in her own backyard. "Look a there. There's a big one and then there's some little ones down there," says Ophelia about a big potato that she dug.

"That's ready to eat," says Ophelia as she balances the potato on the spade.

Their garden grows vegetable treasures year ‘round.  "We grow a little bit of it all," says Ophelia.

Five types of peppers, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, rutabagas and two types of collards-the short ones and the accidental ones. "They stayed small for a long time," says Ophelia, until she tried an experiment to give them a boost.

She doesn't know for sure what caused the collars to grow to eight feet, but she has a good idea because she fed them plant food.

That was just what the collars needed to try and reach the clouds.  "I'm six-foot-one. The collards about two feet taller than I am, about eight foot," says Willie as he stands next to one.

Collards taller than many people have ever seen. How do they taste? "They are real good," says Ophelia.

But you got to know about collard picking to get them at their peak flavor. "If you go out early in the morning they are better. Get late in the afternoon they do get a little tendency to get tough this time of year," says Ophelia.

Their collards didn't set a world record, but the White's don't care.   "We enjoy raising them. We enjoy eating them," says Ophelia.

Naturally. Last year the White's grew peppers five feet tall.