Wednesday, January 5, 2011

March 17: Charlie Nardozzi: "Edible Landscaping"

With interest in home vegetable gardening rising as fast as Jack’s beanstalk, few topics in horticulture are as timely as edible landscaping. And when it comes to the twin arts of cultivating edible plants and communicating about them, few people have as much experience as Charlie Nardozzi, who will be our program speaker March 17.

Charlie was a spokesman and horticulturalist with the National Gardening Association (NGA) for nearly two decades. He earned a reputation as a dynamic, accessible communicator with a passion for horticulture, appealing to gardeners of all levels. For 12 years, he was an editor with NGA’s magazine, National Gardening, and he continues to write a monthly newsletter, Edible Landscaping, for the association.

Charlie also has written two books, “Vegetable Gardening for Dummies” (2009, Wiley Publishing, Inc.) and “The Ultimate Gardener” (2009, Health Communications, Inc.), and contributed to several others.

His talents as a communicator go beyond the printed word. He was the host of PBS’ “Garden Smart” in 2005, and has been a guest on nationally syndicated television shows. In Vermont, he has had a call-in radio show on an AM station, been a commentator with Vermont Public Radio’s “Vermont Garden Journal” and produced gardening tips for local television.

A native of Waterbury, Conn., Charlie grew up in a big Italian-American family whose many members lived in the shadow of his grandfather’s “old-fashioned, diversified farm.” Rocco Gagliardi raised chickens, cows and pigs, and grew apples, pears and vegetables.

Graduating from Holy Cross High School in the Brass City, Charlie went to the University of Vermont, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in horticulture and master’s degree in education. He is based in Shelburne, Vt., and since leaving the NGA last year, he has worked as a garden coach and consultant.

In his talk, Charlie will briefly address the principles of growing food and the concepts of landscape design. He’ll talk about how and where to incorporate food plants in the landscape and show photos of “whole landscapes” that illustrate his points.

He’ll also describe some unusual edibles, such as the purple ‘Graffiti’ cauliflower and the ‘Chinese Red Noodle’ asparagus bean. He’ll explore the blueberry-like fruits of some types of shadblow and share a recipe for preparing sunflower heads. He’ll talk about growing figs, pawpaws and miniature apple trees that have no branches but plenty of apples.

And, in a nod to St. Patrick’s Day perhaps, he’ll describe how to gather and cook the tender shoots of the hops plant. It’s as close as he’s likely to get to green beer, he says.

To learn more about Charlie, visit his website. To read about some of his gardening tips, visit Vermont Public Radio's "Vermont Garden Journal." 

Everyone is welcome to attend Charlie Nardozzi's talk on Thursday, March 17, 2011. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. (7 p.m. for socializing) at Emanuel Synagogue160 Mohegan Dr.West HartfordConn. The fee for non-CHS members is $10. Contact: 860-529-8713

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