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Norwalk Daily Voice serves Norwalk & Rowayton

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Empty-Nesters Set Up Kitchen Garden

Cathy Killeffer was looking for ways to trim the family grocery bill and increase the amount of fresh vegetables in her diet when she spotted an article on raised bed gardening in .

“I’ve never grown vegetables before,” says Cathy, a Rowayton resident. “I thought it would be a fun project for empty-nesters to try.” After some internet research, Cathy signed up for a class at the New York Botanical Garden where she learned more about the square foot gardening method made famous by Mel Bartholomew in his book and PBS show.

The square foot system teaches gardeners to grow vegetables and flowers in four-foot square raised beds divided into 16 square foot sections. Crops are rotated in each section, with a new vegetable planted after the previous one is harvested.

Cathy's husband Lou jumped on the project and set off to Home Depot for lumber, screws and bags of composted cow manure and peat moss. “We have a lot of deer,” says Lou, explaining that he is making lightweight cages to sit on top of his raised beds to prevent the deer eating his lettuce.

The Killeffers have started a trend among their friends.“Two other couples we know are intrigued by what we’re doing and want to grow their own vegetables, too,” says Cathy. The Norwalk Public Schools are all starting gardens too, she says, and points out that there’s a trend for restaurants to use local produce.

What are the Killeffers planning to grow in their new kitchen garden? “We’re only going to grow things we like to eat,” says Lou. “All types of lettuce, chard, spinach, basil, parsley, tomatoes, beans, onions… And some marigolds and zinnias thrown in for color,” says Cathy.

Are you thinking of growing your own vegetables this year? It’s really not that difficult. If you need some help, drop me a line at

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