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Plots Afoot

Side Dishes: Red Wagon helps home growers cultivate their skills

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With a White House garden in the works and a recession under way, there’s no question that grow-your-own is hot. But purchasing seeds and a few tools does not a green thumb make. That’s why Julie Rubaud, owner of Red Wagon Plants in Hinesburg and daughter of the Rubaud mentioned above, decided that 2009 was the perfect time to pioneer a series of gardening workshops. “There’s been so much interest this year,” she explains. “We’ve had a huge increase in preorders from nurseries and gardening centers.”

At Red Wagon, Rubaud grows and sells hearty seedlings in numerous heirloom varieties — think tomatoes with names such as “Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter” and “Yellow Tumbling Tom.” She says most of her customers are beginning gardeners.

While her clientele loves the concept of homegrown food, Rubaud supposes, most are too busy to deal with a sprawling vegetable patch. “They want it to be smaller, more productive and a little more focused. We’re aiming for making it simple for people and ensuring success for them,” she says.

The series begins on April 18 with a primer on converting a lawn into “an ecological system that feeds you,” led by Mark Krawczyk of Burlington Permaculture. “Lawns are just such a waste,” Rubaud opines. “A little patch is nice, a landing strip for Frisbee.”

Future sessions will focus on topics such as container gardening, planting flowers that benefit honey bees, and “gardening for the seasonal kitchen.”

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