Gardener in Gardiner has “fair” amount of awards for his prize-winning produce

GARDINER — Ramon Broders has advice for people who want to grow prize-winning vegetables for the county fair — go easy on the fertilizer, heavy on the water.

“It’s the water that does it,” Broders says.

“You can forget the fertilizer. All that does is make the vine big.

“It’s the water that makes the size of the fruit.”

Broders should know — for the past 30 years, he’s entered more than 3,000 fruits and vegetables in Jefferson County Fair competition.

He won the prize for most entries so often he’s disqualified himself from that contest, and is too modest to say how many times he’s taken the “best of show” ribbon.

But he’s proud of the variety of food he grows.

“I cover every single category in the fair list,” he says. “If there’s something I don’t grow, I can’t think of it.”

This year, he’s shooting for more than 200 entries, culled from 260 varieties of produce he raises in beds, black pots, greenhouses and orchards behind his waterfront home on Discovery Bay.

There, he grows bushels of vegetables — everything from beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers to papayas, pomegranates, passion fruit and peanuts.

Out of the ordinary

“I try to get away from the ordinary,” he says.

“Rather than zucchini and beets, I try to grow something different. I still grow carrots, but I grow white or purple ones.”

Make that 12 varieties of carrots.

He grows two dozen kinds of bell peppers, including white, black, chocolate and lavender, and more varieties of the non-bell shape.

He grows three dozen types of tomatoes, and has 16 varieties of beans in one bed alone.

“My favorite is a 3-foot-long bean,” he says. “It’s called the yard-long bean.”

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