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Published June 30, 2009, 12:00 AM

Growing green garden goodies

Every Saturday Woody Johnson can be found selling his garden goodies from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. outside Paul’s Pump and Pantry on the east side of Osakis.

By: By Greta Petrich, Editor, The Osakis Review

All the hype behind “gowing green” brings a chuckle to the rugged face of long-time gardener Woody Johnson.

He grows natural and sells local, opening his tailgate and adding a little table to display a wide variety of vegetables, melons and berries at local farmers markets.

Every Saturday he can be found from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. outside Paul’s Pump and Pantry on the east side of Osakis.

Johnson sells his goods under the name MaryWoody Gardens, a loving combination of the names of Woody and Mary, his wife of 40 years.

He grows nearly every type of produce found in Minnesota, offering several items you can’t find at all farmers markets.

A favorite crop, kohlrabi, brings smiles of delight from those who know of the tasty vegetable and scowls from the ones who question its use, according to Johnson.

“If I can talk them into trying it, they’re back the next week looking for more,” he said.

Johnson raises a Russian kohlrabi that produces an extra large bulbs. He’s harvested some as large as 28 inches and they are just as tasty as the smaller variety, he said.

Of course, it’s his cucumbers that bring customers all the way from St. Cloud.

With cantaloupe, tomatoes, pumpkins, Chinese cabbage, eggplant peppers and squash, to name a few, Johnson keeps busy with his two acres of gardens north of Osakis.

To fight the weeds, Johnson covers his cucumber beds with a tarp, allowing only the vine and leaf to flourish.

He starts his plants from seed in his home, some as early as December, tending to each plant until spring when he moves them outdoors.

Probably his hardest project on the farm is maintaining the black raspberries. He dug up the original plants about 20 years ago near Little Sauk. Today, the thorny plants offer all sorts of challenges before you can taste the sweet treats.

Despite a challenging growing season so far – too little rain and low humidity – Johnson said he’s looking forward to getting out to start selling.

“I enjoy the people,” he said. “Some know what they want, others like to try something new. I have all sorts of conversations.”

This weekend he should have small onions, lettuce, kohlrabi, rhubarb and anything else that pops up. Johnson said there’s always something new showing up in his baskets, so it’s worth stopping by to see what’s what, and come back again and again.

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