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Thank you!
Derek Freiman

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Where in the world has Derek Freiman been?!

A lot of you have been asking me the last few weeks: "Where has Derek Freiman been???"

Well, guess what gang, I've been really super busy working outside and helping people get their gardens in full swing. It is summer time, after all! After a mighty June growth spurt, July has brought very little rain to us here in the Pacific Northwest, so I've been making the rounds and making sure that things stay moist.

Except for tomatoes. I don't do a lot of watering on tomato plants and here is why - I leave a lot of space between plants. Usually, I aim for at least 3 feet between each plant and at least 3' between each row. In years past, I've only planted 1 row of tomatoes in any 3 foot wdie bed. This year, I built a new bed that was about 50" wide and I planted 2 side by side rows the length of the bed. They're a little bit crowded, but I've only water 2x nonetheless and they are doing great.

I did some consulting at a local military base and we followed the same model there. They had a space that was only 4 1/2 feet wide and 30' long and they wanted tomatoes planted in the entire space so what we did is kinda staggered the plants. In another words, plant 1 went in the corner on the left side of the bed and plant 2 went along the right side about 2' down. The next plant went back on the left side about 3 1/2 feet down from the first plant, so at the end of the day, they had plenty of room in a criss cross fashion. I was surprised the military guys let me do it that way, considering their knack for precision :)

July is usually a busy time for me. I've harvested a lot of potatoes from my own beds - what a bounty! - and followed those with more beets, cabbage, rutabaga, and a few herbs like cilantro and basil. So, if you want a great garden tip a la Derek Freiman, here it is:

Try to plan your garden around succession crops. Crops like fava beans, potatoes, and peas can all be planted in March and by late June to mid-July, they can all be harvested. Mid-July to early August is a wonderful time to add a round of beets and several other root vegetables into the same space just vacated. 

You can also wait til about August 1 or mid-August and come in with greens like spinach or Arugula. Those cold weather crops just need to get started before the freeze hits and you'll be eating greens all winter! 

Another thing you guys can do is if you grow a lot of fava beans and can't eat them all while they're fresh, just let them dry on the vine. Dried favas are easy to harvest and you'll have two things (1) you'll have your seeds ready to roll for next Spring's planting and (2) you can store the rest of the favas easily and then reconstitute them like you would any bean. Just soak them over night and cook them (think about black and pinto beans preparation). You can either leave them whole in your soup or you can puree them and make them part of a rich broth.

Either way, I recommend adding lots of fresh garlic as the two go together well. Then add a little olive oil, too, so you get that "mouth feel" and some fat flavor. The down side to letting the favas dry is that you'll be keeping in the ground longer - probably another month. So, if you planted in mid March, instead of harvesting fresh favas July 1, plan on leaving them in til about Aug 1. Then pull everything out and let any seeds that aren't dried out yet - just leave those out in the sun. Once they harden up, you'll know it cos they turn brown. Then store them in a bag or jar for whatever use you have in mind (see above).

Okay, well I think that's it for now, please feel free to email me anytime at But take mercy on me during the busy Summer planting and Fall harvest seasons, it might take a little while for me to respond.

Shout out to my boys at the military base - if you guys see this post, you'll know why I haven't returned your text messages to go fishing!

One of my favorite albums to put on the old headphones while I'm working in the garden!
Sincerely, DF

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Derek Freiman Gardening

Hi guys - Wow I have been so busy "working in the field" LOL.

I hope you will continue to call and schedule garden consulting - there is plenty of time to still get warm weather gardens started.

Just 2 days ago, I planted pumpkins and still plan to plant squashes and peppers in the coming weeks.  These are the crops that rely on warm soil to germinate and produce very well with a long summer - which I am crossing my fingers, this will be.  At least the farmers almanac says it will be :)

Derek Freiman
Here is what we have to look forward to!

Derek Freiman Gardening Consultant Rates For Summer

We are still working hard and I now added an assistant to help me.  So you can still order a garden consult and we'll get your herb garden going or whatever you need!  Just $75/hour (Most 8x8 gardens can be done within 4 hours, including compost)!!

derek freiman
Our kale plants are going to seed, so we have excess right now!  LEt me know if I can give you any!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Almost Summer!

derek freiman
Derek Freiman on Flickr now!

Boy it is so nice these days.  I have spent 3 days last week and 2 days this week working outside in the garden.  Life is a lot more balanced when we are working with the Earth, in the garden.

I have been cleaning things up lately, removing old branches I used to use for garden bed walls.  Now, I have accumulated a lot of scrap 2x4's and other pieces that I'm crafting into sturdy garden beds.  It is so much nicer when things are neat and straight.  The aesthetics in the garden are important to me.

What have you planted so far?

For me in my personal garden, it has been beets, bok choy, carrots, potatoes (last week), fava beans, peas and romaine.  The favas and peas have been in the ground nearly 3 weeks and just starting to come up.  It's been cold recently, so I think that's why it took longer than usual.

Most of the time, they'd come up in 2 weeks.

Anyway, back off to work and helping others get their gardens growing!!

Best, Derek Freiman

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My First Video - Overwintering Veggies!

I put together this pretty basic video to show some of my overwintering vegetables. Most of these things were planted last October, got started and did great over the winter!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tomato Transplanting

I found this video: and I thought I'd share it with you.

derek freiman tomatoesMany people get scared of transplanting tomatoes.  It's super easy - the key is just to harden them off a few days outside when it warms up into the 60's by day and at least mid 40's by night.

When you transplant them, do it like the video suggests - if' you've been growing them indoors for a while (like I do) you'll probably notice the stem's have gotten pretty long and need support.  So, you overcome this by planting deeply.

Don't be scared, just trust your instincts and contact me if you have any questions!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Peas And Fave Beans Planted!

Well, with the weather clearing a bit here in the Northwest, it was a real good day to log some hours in the garden.  Just a reminder that you can still get in on the Derek Freiman garden package for 2013.

Okay, now, back to the events of the day - with photos!

I spent a few hours cleaning things up and weeding before I could plant.

derek freiman - fava
Like marking my territory!

derek freiman garden - fava planting

This is where I planted each of the fava beans today - each one was planted about 2' apart.

I know it is hard to tell from this photo, but the bed is 45' long.

The nice thing about planting fava beans is that they come up pretty quick.  IF you plant them in March, you can harvest by July 1 if not sooner, depending on the weather.  Then you can put them up - freezing is best.

Then follow them with another summer crop, depending on when these come out, I will be able to come back with squash, pumpkin, or basil - something like that.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Finally Got the Tomatoes Going

Just a quick update - I finally got 20 tomato plants started a couple weeks ago.  Most of the seeds came up and are already leaning toward the sunshine out my big picture window in the living room.

I'm cutting back on the # I grow this year because i've been busy with other projects.

The plan is to grow two parallel rows of 10 plants each for a total of 20 altogether.  I'm looking for a better way to support them, anyone got any ideas?

Trellis is too bulky and the old tomato cages just get overgrown so quickly.  I thought I saw something in Organic Gardening about aluminum trellis's?

Feedback would be great!
derek freiman - trellis for tomatoes
The old trellis - won't be using this baby any more!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Growing Upside Down Tomatoes

I regret I did not take pictures when growing upside down tomatoes a few years ago, but I will provide you with very detailed instructions - and this is a lot easier than you might think!


Get your tomato plant started in the ground and growing OUTSIDE and wait until it is about 12-18" tall.  It just needs to be sturdy enough to survive a normal TRANSPLANT without being too big.


Find a 1 or 2 gallon sized plastic container (2 works better) and slice an "X" slit in the bottom of it.  You want to create an opening that's about 5" wide so that you can easily slip the tomatoes roots through it from the bottom.  DON'T CUT THE BOTTOM OUT OF THE CONTAINER.


Dig underneath the tomato plant in your garden as if you were doing a normal transplant, making sure to allow enough room to get the roots as fully as you can.  Carefully shake some of the clunky dirt off the roots, enough so that you will be able to insert them through the slit you've made in the bottom of the container.


Place the container upside down and with your one hand, lift the plastic X slit up so that you have enough room to insert the tomatoes ROOTS in the bottom of the container.

What you're going to want to do is seat the tomato deeply through the X slit so that a significant part of the stem (perhaps half of it) is inside the container.  NOTE:  The tomato will now be upside down inside your container.


To close and secure the bottom of the container, I just tape it up with some duct tape (of course you made need to cut a tiny bit of plastic at this point so the root has a little breathing room - I recommend a 1-2" circle or square area.

Derek Freiman Garden - upside down tomato
When you get really good at this, you won't need to cut a big slit.  As you can see in the photo above, I cut about a 2" hole and did not need to tape anything up.


Now flip your container so that it is right side up.  Continue to hold and stabilize the plant and its roots, so it does not shift around too much as you begin to add your dirt and/or compost to the container.

Carefully add your soil mixture.  Add more than you think you need, as it will naturally compress after you water it.


Hang your plant as indicated in the photo in a sunny location.

(This is just an example, if this had been an actual tomato, the plant would be hanging down at of the bottom, with the top of the plant nearest the ground.)


Do this immediately as you would after any transplant.  Add additional dirt if needed.

Your plant should take root just fine and you will water like any other tomato in the garden sitting the right way.


You'll be amazed how strong the plant will be, it will actually grow back up toward the sun (only to be weighted down later by tomatoes).

Appreciate any questions and once again, sorry I don't have the actual pics with the tomato.  That computer crashed with my older photos!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Derek Freiman Garden Work

I thought I'd make this post a bit more on the pictorial side of things, while we wait for things to get going here in the Northwest this season.

First of all, I want to remind everyone about the Derek Freiman consulting packages available for the fast approaching 2013 season.

derek freiman consulting - eggplant pic

Last year was the first year we grew eggplants at my place.  I had to start them indoors using a heating pad in January.  Each plant was gorgeous and produced about 20 small eggplants during the course of the season.  We harvested from about August to October.

derek freiman gardening - flower in the peas
This photo shows how a rose bush was helping to support my peas that were growing up the fence.  I thought it was really beautiful to see the two of these plants co-mingling.

derek freiman - starts

These are some great looking basil starts that wound up in one of my many jars of tomato sauce.

If these pics inspire you, get out in the garden and get to work!

Look forward to seeing you outside!


derek freiman

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Having a Good Garden Succession Plan

Here are a few of the crops I grow in my own garden in the same space that you can incorporate into your 2013 gardening plan.  I've found that by pulling out one crop and then following it with another, you make great use of space and introduce different types of plants to the soil.  While I'm no official "master gardener", I know this system works because I've done it year after year.  And I don't worry so much about rotating crops from one year to the next cos with this plan you're rotating crops WITHIN each year.

That said, here are some great ideas for in-season crop succession!

Crop Succession Recommendations

1st Crop (plant date)                   2nd Crop (harvest 1st, plant date for 2nd)                    

Fava Beans ( March)   >>             Squash (plant in June)

Peas (March)               >>             Basil (June)

Potatoes (March)         >>             Onions/Carrots (June/July)

Corn (April)                >>              Spinach/Kale/Arugula (August/Sept)

Good luck and please contact me if you would like more recommendations for succession planting!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Getting Tomatoes Going!

This is a photo from last year which I hope will inspire you to get your tomato starts going.  If you need help, just get hold of me on twitter or facebook and I will be happy to answer any questions.  February is a great time to be starting out with your seedlings.

After about 2 months they should be 8-12" tall and here in the Northwest, we usually take them outside in late April.  When you transplant them into the ground, you will want to push down the roots and bury several inches of the stem (deeper than you usually would) as this helps make them stronger.  (Make sure to pull off any bottom leaves before you do this).

What you wind up with is plants that were 12" tall in pots wind up being around 6-8" high after you plant them deeply in the ground.  But this will help them withstand early lower temperatures, wind and encourages a good strong rooting system.  You'll notice that the tomatoes won't grow much in the first 30 days, but don't worry - they are adjusting to their new surroundings.  After 3-4 weeks, they will be right in step with mother nature and grow like crazy with the summer sun!

Don't forget to sign up for your 2013 garden consulting package.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mother Nature Knows The Way

I think sometimes we forget how well things can grow without any help or interference from us.  Last year, I watched these tomato plants grow right out of my composter all summer long without any help AT ALL from me.  I did not water them or weed them and I certainly did not plant them.  I just let them grow and grow.  Not only were they fine on their own but they also were the healthiest of all my tomato plants last year.  Where other tomato plants had gotten pests and some browning that tried to knock them down, these "compost tomatoes" grew strong and healthy all by themselves.

Try to keep this in mind when you tend to your own garden this spring, as sometimes it is good for us to get out of the way and not try to do too much.

Reminder:  2013 garden installation packages are available now!

derek freiman

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Burlap Sacks and Crows!

Burlap coffee bag sacks make great garden row covers.  In this picture, you can see how crows have actually peeled up the sack along the edge of the garden row in search of worms.  They do this constantly, all along all of my rows.  It's pretty annoying.  More crows this year than in years past.  Must be a feeding frenzy for them!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Acorn Squash

Acorn squash get their name because they resemble acorns!  Of course, they are much larger than the kind that fall off trees.

These 2 acorn squash at right are about 7-8" in length.

Last night, I roasted my first acorn squash from last year's harvest and it was really good.

What I did was quarter the squash and remove all the seeds and stringy insides.  Then place the quarters in tin foil and place on a cookie sheet.  Add a little butter, salt and pepper and roast it on 450 for 20-30 minutes, or until the flesh is soft enough to scoop away from the skin.

I served the squash with salmon and some roasted potatoes (which I'd also grown and harvested last summer) and it was a fantastic dinner.  It's so nice to be eating from the garden in February!

Growing Acorn Squash

You start acorn squash in hills just like other squash and plant the seeds about a 1/2 inch deep.  The nice thing about the acorn squash plant is that it does not get as big as other squash plants.  You'll still need about a 2 foot square area to grow them, but the plant doesn't spread out and take up as much space as, say, a kapocha or hubbard squash plant does.  It doesn't "run".

You can expect to get anywhere from 5-8 acorn squash per plant.  They'll store for months on the kitchen counter, so you can use them at your leisure!


Saturday, February 2, 2013


These pumpkins were harvested last August and September and are still sitting on top of my cabinets in my kitchen today!  Soon, I'll be using them in recipes like pumpkin curry and I plan to make a smooth pumpkin butter spread with orange juice this year.

The great thing about pumpkins is that they last so long after you pick them.  Although at some point, usually within 6 months, you'll want to make sure you eat them because they can start to rot from the inside out and lose flavor.

Nothing is more fun, especially if you have small children, then dedicating part of your farm area to a pumpkin patch.  In early Fall, when the leaves have all fallen off the plants and they're beginning to turn brown, the site of many bright orange pumpkins is one to behold!

Growing Pumpkins

If you want to grow pumpkins, you'll need a good bit of space.

I just took this picture at left of the space I used to grow pumpkins last season.  I grew them in two long hills about 3 feet wide and 12 feet long.  I spaced 3-4 feet in between the 2 rows and I allowed for 2 feet in between plants on each row.

So, I had about a dozen plants (6 per hill row) and they produced 15 pumpkins of varying sizes.  When you go to buy seeds, make sure you get the pumpkin seeds that are for EATING, not the ones that are for show.

Saving seeds with pumpkins is easy, just scoop them out, wash them and dry them.  Then store them in an envelope in a cool, dark place until next year.  I usually plant all my squash and pumpkins in late April or early May, whenever the soil is warm enough to germinate the seeds.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!


PS - Don't forget to check out my consulting rates for 2013!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Kapocha Squash

Kapocha squash are easy to grow in the Northwest.  They are so profilic that last year I had to pull a couple of plants mid-season because we had so many!

The seeds are large like pumpkin seeds, so when you plant them, you plant them in hills about a 1/2 inch deep.  They are quick to sprout and when fully grown, the plants take about 2 to 3 foot area in your garden. You can expect to get anywhere between 10-15 large kapocha squash from 1 plant.  (The two in the picture above are each about the size of a human head).

The one drawback of the kapocha squash is that it is super mild, almost flavorless.  That said, I found a good recipe here.  Another good way to use them is to simply blend the meaty flesh and mix it with basil - it makes a great starter broth, like a vegetable broth.  Then add water until you get the righ consistency.  The way I see it - it's better than just starting your soup with plain water.

You can roast the seeds in olive oil, salt and pepper, just like pumpkin seeds.  You can also puree them and use as a topping.

If you're looking for a very mild squash that produces a LOT of fruit for the space it takes up, add a Kapocha to your garden this spring.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Starting With Tomatoes

Today, I'm thinking about getting the tomato seeds started.  As I recall, it was early to mid- January last year when i got started.  I wish I had photos to share with you, but my entire living room was filled with starts.  I had over 50 tomatoes going by March - along with eggplant, serano peppers, and many other veggies.

One mistake I made last year with the tomatoes was not moving them into gallon buckets while they were growing indoors.  As a result, I had the plants in smaller pint-size containers and they got root bound.  This caused some initial disease and the plants did not look particularly healthy - although most of them transplanted just fine in April.

So, this year, I won't make that mistake.  I'll make sure to transplant my 6" seedlings into much larger gallon containers once they start to form additional leaves.

I'll post some progress pics once I get going!