The Mission Statement:
This web site and subsequent blog will concern itself mainly with my exploits
within my own garden, what I read about in the various media I come across,
my views on sustainability, the various impacts on the environment, and my
general aversion to GMOs (genetically modified organisms), as well as
commentary on things I believe to be bad like fracking and oil pipelines.
I will occasionally go off topc when I find something of interest that I wish
to share with my audience (such as it may be).
Hello all. My name is Sal Puglia and I am an organic food gardener. Actually,
I like to think of myself as an "Organic Warrior". This will become clearer as we go on.
I am also a wannabe farmer/homesteader. Further, I am also a veteran, ex-paratrooper
(101st Airborne Division, “The Screaming Eagles”).
Professionally, I’ve been involved with computers lo these many years. I’ve been a
programmer analyst and in this modern era I’ve developed and maintained web sites.
And now I’m entering my next phase. I will become an organic gardening blogger!
I currently (2016) live in Copiague (Long Island, New York). And for you lovely
ladies out there, I am “unattached” (divorced). Some people think I am “unhinged”,
but that’s the topic for another post…!!!
Btw, I stressed “food” gardener because that is where my experience and knowledge
is grounded (no pun intended).
My gardening career began many (many) years ago when I moved from Brooklyn to
Lindenhurst with my then wife and 3 small children (a 4th and final child was
later born in Lindenhurst). We had bought a small ranch which was on a generous
100’ x 100’ piece of property. The front of the house faced south and the huge
back yard was sun drenched.
I don’t recall if I had started gardening the first year I was there, or one of
the years thereafter. At any rate, I decided that the best spot for the garden
would be in the northwest corner of the yard where it would get the most amount
I marked out an area of about 20’ (east/west) x 40’ (north/south). I also realized
that I could grow 4 rows of corn along 80’ of the back fence. Was this an ambitious
garden size for a first time neophyte? Yes!!!
Well, why soooooo big? For one thing I am Italian and I love to eat. I wanted to
make sure that anytime I wanted a tomato (or whatever), I could just go out there
and pick one out. The additional fact was that my sister-in-law lived just a few
blocks away and I just knew she was going to come “shopping” in my garden. To further
complicate matters, my in-laws were frequent visitors and they would sometimes bring
their relatives. And I knew they would all be “shopping” in my garden as well. You
just can’t say no to family. So you see, in self defense I had to make sure that I
always had enough left over for me!
So, what did I grow? I grew the usual crops (doing this from faded memory now). I
had beefsteak tomatoes, bell peppers, cayenne (hot) peppers, peas, romaine lettuce,
cantaloupes and the afore mentioned corn. There well may have been other “veggies”
but I don’t distinctly recall them.
The cayenne peppers that we did not eat immediately, we strung up with needle and
tread and made them dry up. Fresh or dry, they were exceedingly hot. Both my wife
and I love hot and spicy foods, as did my mother-in-law (who visited frequently).
So we really enjoyed those peppers, usually fried up with something else. The air
in the kitchen would permeate with the hot pepper aroma and your eyes would tear up
whether you ate the peppers or not!
Anyway, that nice sunny spot eventually gave way to an 18’ (north/south) x 36’
(east/west) beautiful in ground pool which I wanted the kids to enjoy. So I moved
the garden to a smaller and less favorable location. To make matters worse, my job
requirements demanded more of my time and the garden eventually fell by the wayside.
But what about “organic”? That first year when I initially began, I didn’t know
anything at all. The only thing I knew was that if you put seeds in the ground,
something would (might) grow.
It just so happened that one of my co-workers at the time also had a garden and he
said he loved eating salads. He told me he used a product called “Miracle Grow”
which would make the crops really bloom. I therefore went out and got “Miracle Grow”
and applied it (I obviously didn’t know any better at the time).
As luck would have it, one night I had to work really late and I found myself in the
LIRR lobby in Penn Station (NYC) waiting to hear the track announcement for my train.
That late at night the trains don’t run as frequently so I was left with a lot of time
on my hands with nothing to do. I began wandering through the various shops that were
open and wound up in a magazine store. I started browsing through the racks of magazines
when there it stuck me. I spied this title called “Organic Gardening”. I decided to buy
it. After all, it was about my new passion, gardening. By the time I finished my 1 hour
ride home on the LIRR I was hooked! I realized “this was me”! The magazine mentioned
earthworms, compost, mulching all the things that Mother Nature provides to improve the
soil and most of all, NO CHEMICALS! I got rid of the Miracle Grow and my career as an
organic gardener began!
Btw… One anecdote I wish to share regarding this garden. My youngest daughter
was famous for going into the garden, picking out the pea pods, shelling them
and eating the peas right then and there. That’s how sweet, tender and delicious
they actually were.
The only mistake I made was that I did not get my children actively involved in the
growing and harvesting process. Only too late did I realize how important this was!
So let’s fast forward to the current era. My current gardening efforts are
due to the involvement I had with the Copiague Chamber of Commerce and the
Town of Babylon. I was chamber 1st Vice President (at the time and for several
years) and was very active in my community.
At a meeting with then Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone at which CCC President
Sharon Fattoruso was also present, Bellone mentioned that he wanted to start a
farmers market in Copiague. I said that I thought the chamber should be involved
in that. Bellone said that Trustee Jackie Gordon would be responsible for
overseeing this effort. I contacted Jackie and she set up a meeting that included
2 other gentlemen. Jackie assigned “the Chamber” (basically meaning “me”) to
spearhead and co-ordinate the project.
It was decided that the market would be populated by non-professional growers from
the Town of Babylon. Basically that meant that if you were a back yard grower and
you grew 10 tomatoes but could only eat 2 of them, you could come to the market to
sell the other 8.
So that’s how it began. I was back into gardening. I was able to section off a
portion of the yard where I lived. And my gardening career reprised with gusto.
I looked to subscribe to the “old magazines” with which I had been familiar in
the past, foremost amongst these were “Organic Gardening” and “Mother Earth News”
magazines. I wanted to know and learn all there was about organic gardening. And
that’s when the horror story began. I found out about toxic GMOs and a company
called Monsanto among others of the same ilk.
But so much for that. My current (2015) garden is roughly an overall 20’ x 30’
in size although it was somewhat smaller in size and configuration in my first
year. Photos and details will accompany the posts for each year of my efforts.
What have I been doing you ask? Over these last few years I have reprised growing
some of the standards along with some new crops. Quite honestly, I’ve had success
with some, less success with others, and downright failures with a few. There is
always something to learn!
I grew tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, onions, eggplants, potatoes, zucchini,
cucumbers, winter squash, beans, kale, arugula, radishes, carrots, beets, garlic,
blackberries, parsley and basil. Not all things were grown in the same year. Space
is at a premium. I tried growing corn, but as soon as the ears started showing up
the squirrels would feast upon them! I guess they had to eat too!
Each year I try to improve on the previous year and try something new. Last year
(2014) I had grown over 50 plum tomato plants, in addition to some beefsteak
varieties. The big delicious tomatoes I ate in sandwiches and salads. For the
plum tomatoes, I bought a canner and canned over 50 quarts of tomato products
which I’m still enjoying. And I haven’t died of botulism as yet so I guess I
did it right!
So where do I go from here? For one thing, I will keep learning through personal
experience and experimentation as well as through the various publications I
My ultimate objective however is to get onto a real farm/homestead and be able to
grow as much as I want and as many different varieties as I choose. I would also
get chickens as well as honey bees. I would also seriously consider some livestock
(goats and sheep). And since I have always loved horses, finally I could get one
(or more)and have a place to put it. Yes, I would want a “Ponderosa” sized property
so I could ride my horse along the trails. Such is the fabric tha dreams are made