It all starts in the earl spring when the seedlings are tucked into the fertile soil and extends up until the time of the autumn harvest when the last of the vegetables are tugged from the earth. The Maine Diner garden, tended by “Farmer Bob” Henry, behind the restaurant has become a favorite fixture for tourists and locals alike to visit.
“Our garden is really a nice place to hang out,” Henry says. “It is getting so I recognize familiar faces from year to year and we compare notes on gardening and swap tips and experiences. It is quite enjoyable. I appreciate our visitors. They are nice people and I haven’t met a bad one yet.”
Henry, a retired engineer, was born with a passion for gardening. In a few short years he has transformed a half-acre behind the restaurant into an abundant bonanza of broccoli, green peppers, zucchini, asparagus, carrots, summer squash, cucumbers, green and yellow beans, tomatoes, eggplant, beets and butternut squash. A back row of pumpkins yields decorations for “Remember the Maine Gift Shoppe” next-door and flowers attract all manner of birds, “good” insects and tourists. All the fresh produce raised is picked daily in season and used in the diner in the legendary home-cooked recipes.
“It’s been a wonderful year. Soon we will pull up what’s left, add compost, rototill and there it will sit until spring,” Henry said.
While the snow flies this winter Henry will cozy up to the fire with his seed catalogs and start dreaming of the warmer days ahead. Around February he will start a portion of the 500 seedlings needed and will plant them sometime in April or May.
“I’m always interested in new varieties that may be more disease resistant, or those that mature earlier,” Henry says. “No matter what we choose, I still get excited that what we grow we pick and it goes inside. The concept that the food is grown locally with healthy concepts makes all the work worthwhile. I enjoy doing this, no question. The hard work pays off in the end and is its own true reward.”