Brook Everett is one of Lane Forest’s greatest employees and gardeners. In fact, if you’ve called Lane Forest Products in the past 16 years, there’s a good chance the voice on the other side of the line was Brook Everett, one of LFP’s seasoned veterans. Starting on March 23rd 1993, when Lane Forest Products only had one physical location (compared to the six yards it operates now), Brook came in and became one of our own resident gardeners. Her experience with, passion for, and knowledge of gardening are truly second-to-none.

We sat down with Brook to talk about her background in the garden.

LFP: What initially sparked your interest in gardening? How old were you when you first got interested?

Brook Watering Some Broccoli in the Lane Forest Greenhouse

LFP: What is it about gardening that inspires you? Why do you keep at it?

BE: I learned to appreciate the freedom and self-sufficiency of growing my own food…I know where my food is coming from, it is organically grown and I grew it myself. In recent years, there have been too many scares of E.coli outbreak in the food that we get at the grocery store and the thought of eating pesticide laden fruit and veggies was not appealing at all.

LFP: What are a few of the benefits you reap from gardening?

BE: It is good exercise and very therapeutic! I can go out any time I want to and pick fresh veggies right out of my garden that I created, for fresh meals. This is a real treat!

LFP: You said you use a lot of the veggies fresh from your garden. Do you have a favorite one? If so, why?

BE: That would be tomatoes! There are so many varieties out there with so many distinct tastes, shapes, textures and colors! Some are big and juicy, some are firm and spicy.  This year I had 12 plants (10 different varieties) and got three-and-a-half bushels from them. I also like to grow cherry colored flowers in the beds. Besides looking & smelling good, they attract the bees and other pollinators to my garden.

LFP: Sounds like you must have a pretty big garden! What does your garden look like and do you have any expansion plans?

BE: This year it is 32′ by 32′. There are 2′ wide wooden raised beds around the perimeter and 4′ X 8′ raised beds in the middle, with 3′ wide walkways in between the rows (big enough to push my garden cart between the beds). Next year I want to expand the garden out to be 32′ wide by 48′ deep. I want to add a fig tree and a few table grape plants in that section.

LFP: What’s the toughest part of maintaining a garden of this size?

BE: This year, it was the accrual build. I started out with a front lawn then leveled it out with a tractor, put down road cloth I bought from Lane Forest Products, built the wood boxes and filled them with Nature’s Best Soil. Most years the hardest aspect will be winterizing the garden; clearing out all the dead and dying veggies, breaking down the supports (cleaning them and storing them away in the garden shed) and then covering all the beds with 3″ of Garden Compost. Weeding is another hard chore that needs to be done. But by laying compost on the beds this helps a great deal. Another hard thing is to clean off all the caterpillar eggs off the cabbage leaves. This takes time and persistence but pays off in the long run, with less cabbage moth damage.

Look for more articles in the near future that feature Brook as well as her advice in regards to making your garden the best on the block.