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Dalby couldn't find tomatoes and corn to his liking, so he grew them

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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David Dalby reaches into a tomato plant to thin them out.
 

Jim Fair

David Dalby reaches into a tomato plant to thin them out.

 



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Green beans are being grown for Greer Relief with one condition – David Dalby won't be harvesting them.
 

Jim Fair

Green beans are being grown for Greer Relief with one condition – David Dalby won't be harvesting them.

 



Enlarge photo

A 1984 Troy-Bilt tiller that David Dalby found at a yard sale has been his secret weapon preparing the soil.
 

Jim Fair

A 1984 Troy-Bilt tiller that David Dalby found at a yard sale has been his secret weapon preparing the soil.

 



Enlarge photo

A second planting of corn will add to an already 600 ears picked, Dalby said.
 

Jim Fair

A second planting of corn will add to an already 600 ears picked, Dalby said.

 



David Dalby wanted fresh tomatoes and corn so he grew them.

Now Dalby has too many tomatoes among varieties that are still producing bite-size black cherry among his Heirloom, Beefsteak and Better Boys. There are 42 quarts of tomatoes canned, so far.

Greer Relief sent out a call to the public that the non-profit wanted vegetables. So Dalby is growing green beans with one condition. “I won’t harvest them. It takes too long and it’s too hard,” Dalby said.

Dalby bluntly says, “I have no interest in taking care of other people’s (gardens)."

Dalby produces his vegetables in the Greer Community Garden on the Greer Community Hospital site.

Interestingly, the community garden took shape when John Mansure, President of Greer Memorial, couldn’t find a good quality tomato on the market and decided to grow his own. However, Mansure’s first crop was an extension of a flower garden produced outside the hospital’s cafeteria.

This is the third year for the community garden. The first year had little harvest with the soil plowed at a former school site. Bricks and wood were harvested mostly that first season. Last year, record summer rains rotted most of the crop.

But there has been an abundance of vegetables this year harvested with a mild summer and above average rainfall.

Undeveloped plots, 9 x 7 feet each, have been taken over by Dalby. He has 12 plots and has eyed others for a strategic expansion for 2015.

Dalby is a former research scientist, who worked in the food industry throughout his career. He specialized in food fermentation in the 1970s, getting yeast to rise more quickly.

Dalby retired and taught science at Riverside High School for 10 years, where his classes reportedly ranked among the highest in South Carolina. That retirement led to Dalby yearning for the fresh food and Black Angus beef his family raised in Illinois. He processes a half of side of beef or more each year.

The science of harvesting food has occupied Dalby as much as harvesting. He arrives before dawn, dressed in long sleeve white shirt and hat, and leaves when the sun gets higher in the sky. His father died of skin cancer contracted from all day farming without protection from the sun, Dalby said. 

Dalby is comfortable discussing soil solarization – concentrating the sun’s energy in the top 12-18 inches of soil. Bringing the temperature to 130 degrees at root level, Dalby said, helps destroy the fusarium or fungus that causes root rot or blight. Dalby said the yellowing of plant leaves could be an indication that fusarium is destroying the plant below the ground.

Dalby described how microbiologists would boil dirt for their scientific studies. He hasn’t resorted to that.

Sherry Williams, also a teacher at Riverside High, whetted Dalby’s appetite for the freshness of homegrown produce. “I help Sherry and she helps me. I till her garden and she will help water my plants,” Dalby said.

There is a secret to Dalby’s farming success – a 1984 Troy-Bilt tiller. “You have to properly prepare the soil,” Dalby said. “I found this tiller at a yard sale. It is so heavy it takes everything I can to get off the truck and then back on the truck. But it tills the soil deep and in straight lines.”

There is one tomato Dalby looks forward to harvesting next year. “My dad always told me the pink tomato was the best he ever had. I want to grow them.”

 

 

 

 

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