Greenhouse Gardens Celebrates Its First Anniversary
Just a little over a year ago, Jeannine and Cameron McChesney opened Greenhouse Gardens, a unique urban market garden in Chandler. It is located in the original Riggs family farmhouse, and the two are the first non-family members to own the property since 1948.
“We still have the original farm house. Our market is located in the carport of the house. The 1957 tractor that Lyle [Riggs] used is parked out front. The barn, built in 1950, is full of old Riggs farming artifacts,” says Jeannine McChesney. “We rent the barn out for small parties and events. We love to give tours of the historic property and our growing operation.”
Greenhouse Gardens covers 2.5 acres and grows seasonal vegetables, herbs and fruit that are then sold at their on-site market every Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon.
“We do not use any chemical pesticides or fertilizers. We grow 365 days a year, and the market will be open every weekend except for a few weeks during the summer,” says McChesney. “We are very excited to bring fresh, local produce to our area of Chandler.”
As a duo, the couple has had a backyard garden in one form or another for the past 17 years.
“Each time we moved to a new house, the garden got bigger. Our current garden got so large that we had extra vegetables that we offered to family, friends and neighbors. The feedback was amazing, so we decided to give production gardening a try,” says McChesney. “We borrowed a great friend’s backyard and filled it with 1,200 square feet of planting area. We sold at a small farmers’ market and grew our own clientele from our neighborhood and surrounding areas.”
After two years, they finally bought their dream property and Greenhouse Gardens was born.
“Our first year has been outstanding,” says McChesney. “We are still finishing the construction of the garden, and our clientele has grown as our produce availability has grown. We have quite a loyal following already, and more new customers stop by each weekend.”
Know Your Vegetables
Make the Most of Spring Planting with Tips from the Experts at Greenhouse Gardens
The crown jewel of the spring and summer harvest is the tomato. Nothing beats the flavor of a fresh, locally grown tomato. We plant our tomatoes in February and March and harvest them in late May through July. Due to Arizona’s short, hot spring growing season, we recommend growing cherry tomatoes. They ripen faster than full-sized slicing tomatoes.
Technically a melon, the Armenian Cucumber thrives in hot weather. The vines are vigorous climbers and the cucumbers can reach three feet in length. When harvested small, they are juicy, crisp and sweet and work great in salads or sliced as a snack.
Eggplants love the heat and there are many varieties to choose from. We enjoy the Italian variety called Rosa Bianca and the Asian variety called Ping Tung. If you shade the plants in the summer and cover them in the winter, a single plant can continue to produce eggplants for many seasons.
A true sign of warmer weather is the return of the summer squash. Standard green zucchini is always a hit, but we also enjoy growing patty pan squash. They are the shape of a flying saucer and have scalloped edges. We love to cut them in half and roast them with a little cheese.
We grow both hot and sweet varieties of peppers. This spring, we will have green, yellow, orange and red bell peppers, as well as the same variety of colors in the smaller, sweet snacking peppers. Like eggplant, peppers can be kept alive and productive for a few seasons with a little harsh weather protection.
The last planting of carrots happens in April. There are a surprising variety of seeds to choose from and quite a few different kinds of orange carrots, but we enjoy growing purple, yellow, red and white carrots. The bright colors liven up any salad.
Mrs. Burns’ Famous Lemon Basil
This delicious basil is offered by Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson. It’s a heat-loving basil and has the unmistakable smell and flavor of fresh lemons. It pairs great with fish, or you can soak it in vodka for a refreshing cocktail. All basils grow well in the Valley and can be planted through May.