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Veggies growing big this year for Lachine woman

Lifelong gardener cans or freezes most crops

News Photos by Darby Hinkley Carol Kraft of Lachine proudly displays two of the biggest peppers she has ever grown.

LACHINE — It’s the biggest pepper she’s ever grown — and the octogenarian has been gardening her whole life.

Carol Kraft of Lachine held up a large green pepper that had turned red, which makes for a sweeter taste and indicates full maturity. The pepper measured about three-and-a-half inches wide and eight inches long.

“I’ve been picking them, but I think that’s the biggest I’ve ever seen,” said Kraft, 83. “We’ve been here for 60 years and had a garden that long, since we moved here in 1960.”

Her husband Clarence is 86, and they both still garden and take care of their own lawn.

“We were both raised on a farm,” Carol Kraft said. “We’ve always had a garden. I can or freeze — we have three kids, and when they were home, I did over 1,000 or better quarts and pints.”

Carol Kraft stands beside her pantry full of canned goods made from her garden.

Some of the foods she makes and cans include her own vegetable soup, tomato soup, beets, beans, salsa, stewed tomatoes, pickles, sauerkraut, zucchini jam, and much more.

“I make anything I can get my hands on,” she said.

She uses a pressure cooker to make many of her canned goods, which she stores in a large pantry in the basement.

Kraft explained that after harvesting the crops, they take the vines and what’s left in the garden, chop them down each season, and throw them on the compost pile, which rots and becomes rich black soil to be laid for the next year’s crops.

“We put that on the garden, besides some fertilizer, and try to keep it weeded, although now that we’re older we’re not doing such a hot job of that,” she said with a smile.

Above are grapes on the vine.

In addition to peppers, they grow beans, peas, cucumbers, cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, garlic, dill, zucchini, grapes, and more.

They are both in garden “pretty much every day,” Kraft said. “You have to be, to keep up with the weeds.”

She noted that their lifestyle makes for both healthy eating and saving a lot of money on grocery bills.

“Sometimes that’s all we have for lunch, is fresh vegetables,” she said. “I think it saves a lot of money. And I think we’re healthier because of it.”

Lifestyles Editor Darby Hinkley can be reached at 989-358-5691 or dhinkley@thealpenanews.com.

Above is a Brussels sprout plant in Carol Kraft’s garden.

Here is the compost pile on which they throw garden clippings to enrich the soil in the spring.

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