GC Top Gardener: Gerald Bludau
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By Jessica Rodrigo
Growing up on a farm has given Gerald Bludau two green thumbs.
Being one of nine children, he had a fair share of chores on the farm and on the family's roadside stand where they sold produce.
He still remembers his Mom telling him and his siblings to prepare their horse, Mike, for plowing the field before his Dad would get off work. Once his Dad got home, they would work on the farm until the sun set on the Hallettsville horizon.
"We had a lot of fun," the 68-year-old said. "We raised a lot of different vegetables, and we never went hungry."
He said this was the most valuable lesson he learned.
In 1970, Bludau and his wife moved into their home in Victoria where he was able to apply his childhood experience into his adult life. In his backyard, free from the shade of several pecan trees, he started with a garden about 4-feet by 8-feet in size to grow his vegetables.
Now the garden, which he has expanded, includes cucumbers, cream peas, tomatoes, blackberries, peppers and shallots, and leaf lettuce, broccoli and more in the fall. A colorful border of flowers lines his garden, and on the other side of a chain-link fence lies another plentiful garden.
"I've helped my neighbor with his garden, and now his is bigger than mine," Bludau chuckled as he looked beyond the fence.
In 2004, Bludau completed the Master Gardener training program and also became a certified vegetable specialist with the Texas AgriLife Extension. Before he retired from the pharmaceutical industry, he taught math at Patti Welder, in Bloomington and, in Westhoff.
"It's more the education part than the gardening for me," he explained. "I love to teach."
He contributes to the community's education of vegetable and wildflower gardening and in May he spoke to a group of students at Chandler Elementary School about testing the soil for a small garden they had plans to build around the flag pole at the school's entrance.
Bludau, a humble man, said he always looks forward to helping people with their own gardens.
"I get stopped whenever I'm out and people ask me about their gardens a lot," he said.
Family: Wife, Kathy, married 44 years. Children: Lee Ann Eveson, married to Steve, with Josh, Kyle, Alex and Jacob; Chris Bludau, married to Gina Koop, with Bridget, Nicholas and Hayden.
What are your favorite things to grow in your garden?
An easier question would be, 'What do you not like to grow?' I like growing tomatoes although I pray for a crop failure every year because I hate to eat them, but I raise them for my dear wife. I also like growing squash, cream peas, and my real favorite are all the cole crops - those are the fall veggies.
Has gardening taught you any valuable life lessons?
Yes, it has. As one of nine children growing up in Hallettsville, my Dad farmed about five to six acres of vegetables which we sold at a roadside stand. This taught me a great deal about gardening, working together as a family and the value of having all the fresh vegetables we needed to support the family.
If you could change the climate to grow any plant in your garden, what would it be and why?
I would really like to be able to grow more fruits, berries, such as those grown in California and particularly the Wallowa Valley in Oregon. However, we are fortunate to be able to grow both a spring and a fall garden in this area, whereas many areas of the country do not have this opportunity.
What is the biggest problem that you have come across while gardening?
Bugs, not being able to order rainfall when it is needed, the increasing costs of seeds, fertilizer and squirrels. As I mentioned in a Gardener's Dirt article, if you see a squirrel lying dead on the streets of Victoria, smile. If you see a squirrel playing in the streets of Victoria, accelerate.