Tom’s Backyard Garden
Fruits & Vegetables grown naturally in Marengo, IL
Tom Anderson has taken his hobby of gardening to a whole new level! Taking over the family garden at the age of 10, Tom soon found that he had a talent and passion for gardening. He was a suburban gardener for 34 years in Palatine where he grew fruit and vegetables in his backyard. A few years ago he found himself running out of room, so he decided to take early retirement and he and his wife Nancy bought 10 acres in Marengo. Tom has been selling at farmers markets for the last six years. He got his start at the Palatine market and then began selling at the Woodstock Farmers Market winter market. This year marks his first as a vendor at the summer market. You can find him on the Woodstock Square every Saturday from 8 am – 1 pm, May – October.
After visiting his property, you can see that Tom is happy to have a much larger space! He has filled it with tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, spinach, onions, radishes, potatoes, carrots, celery, broccoli, leeks, cucumbers, beets, beans, brussel sprouts, garlic, rhubarb, asparagus and corn. And those are just the veggies! Tom also grafts his own apple and pear trees and grows raspberries and strawberries.
Tom was able to extend his growing season after his son Phil built a large hoop house. The hoop house allows him to plant tomatoes much earlier and even though it is only the middle of May, his plants are already starting to bear fruit. Using the hoop house, gave Tom the ability to grow spinach, kale and carrots all winter long. You can check out a video tour of the hoop house here https://youtu.be/4VQDBoNpK08
Tom grows his vegetables and fruits pesticide free. He relies on farming methods such as using leaves, that he gets from the Village of Marengo, which help keep moisture in, keep the weeds down and help feed the plants. He has also planted buckwheat to put green matter into the soil and help smother weeds. For pest control, he relies on hand picking off pests and has found from years of experience that after keeping up with it, eventually everything is in harmony and the pests become few and far between. To water his crops, it is done by hand or by using a traveling Micro Rain sprinkler. His neighbor has recently offered to water Tom’s crops with his irrigation system.
Tom, who used to be a seed tester, starts seeds in trays in his basement which he puts on shelves under lights. Beginning in January, he starts seeds every two weeks planting 800-1000 seeds at a time. Tom is always looking for the best tasting varieties and saving his seeds has helped him to continue to grow the best of the best. Tom’s son, Phil, who works on the farm, uses his mechanic skills to refurbish tractors and other equipment. You can also find Phil helping his dad at the booth on Saturday at the market.
Soup beans! Tom starting growing soup beans five years ago and he now grows 28 varieties. This truly is a labor of love as Tom hand shells the beans, spreads them out on tables in his basement and goes bean by bean pulling out the bad ones. He then puts them all into a big bin and mixes them up. You can find his fantastic soup bean mix along with his wife Nancy’s crockpot soup recipe at the Saturday Woodstock Farmers Market.