Roger Myers, Lehman’s Gardening Category Manager, has a wealth of gardening knowledge that’s well-known throughout our company. Each year, his half-acre garden produces many types of vegetables – his favorites are tomatoes and lettuce – and Roger and his wife enjoy doing lots of canning and freezing of their garden’s bounty.
Growing up as part of a dairy farming family, Roger’s family grew much of their food and didn’t need to buy much from the grocery store.
“When I grew up as a kid, my mom and dad always had a garden and we ate out of that most of the time … we also had milk, our own hogs and beef. So that’s where I got started (with gardening).
“I’ve done a lot of gardening off and on throughout my life, but here in my latter years since I’ve been with Lehman’s, I’ve learned some other techniques that got me really interested in putting more of a push on raising my own food again.”
I do a lot of canning, making sauerkraut and making butter. I don’t have a milk cow, but I do have milking goats.” (Editor’s Note: Roger also makes his own goat’s milk soap and homemade maple syrup – he’s even taught classes on how to do that at Lehman’s!)
“We always grow lots of tomatoes. Tomatoes are something you can use a lot … I make tomato juice, I can stewing tomatoes, I make our own spaghetti sauce, and I also make my own ketchup. My grandchildren really like my homemade ketchup, ” he said with a grin.
“I also grow a lot of lettuce … it’s something that’s quick to grow, it grows fast, like radishes, those are my other two favorites (besides tomatoes).”
Roger said de-stressing is a big side benefit of his gardening hobby.
“For me, coming home from work and needing to unwind, (gardening) is a good way … there are no phones to answer, you don’t have to talk to anybody … your plants are out there growing and it’s fun to watch them grow, and see how they change from day to day.”
Sometimes finding new ways to improve his garden can be a challenge, but it’s one Roger takes on with gusto. In fact, his newest garden experiment has worked out so well he wanted to share it:
No-Till, No-Weed Garden Technique
(Note: This technique is ideally started in the fall.)
- Cover your garden plot with newspaper (3-4 sheets thick).
- On top of the newspaper, add 1-2″ compost. Ideally this is done in fall but could be started in late winter/early spring, depending on the weather where you live.
- In early spring, add 4″ of “cheap, junk” mulch (small wood chips and tree trimmings) – can be from your own lawn or check with local garden or mulch centers).
- After danger or frost, move the mulch back with your hands or a garden tool and plant seedlings (or seeds) directly in the compost.
Roger’s Homemade Ketchup
1 peck tomatoes
4 c. sugar
3 T. salt
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 pt. (2 c.) vinegar
In a large pot, heat tomatoes, drain a few hours, then put through a food mill or sieve. Add the sugar, salt, spices, mustard and vinegar. Boil 10 minutes or until thickened. Hot pack into pint jars. (Note: Always use USDA canning guidelines.)
Fun Fact: This recipe is from the Lehman’s 50th Anniversary Cookbook, published in 2005 and no longer in print. The recipe was submitted by Sarah Alice Miller, wife of Eli Miller, the Amish craftsman who assembles many of our exclusive products in Lehman’s workshop.