‘Ned’s Garden’ Bounty in an Amagansett Backyard

Realistic expectations and dedication paid off. Jamie Bufalino

Until two years ago, Ned Klein, a New Yorker, had honed his gardening skills in an urban setting. “All of my gardens were in containers, raised beds, or small plots surrounded by concrete,” he said. When his mother bought a house in Amagansett, however, he decided to try to create an expansive horticultural canvas in her backyard.  “I was eager to attempt a classic rectangular plot with rows,” he said. 

Taking note of the trajectory of sunlight, he chose an area with maximum southern exposure, and dug up the lawn to create a 15-by-25-foot plot. 

The yard is protected by deer fencing, and in an effort to prevent voles from getting at his plants, Mr. Klein installed a fine-mesh, metal underground barrier along the perimeter of the garden. His first East End harvest, however, was mostly a bust.

“I was trying to fulfill my gardening fantasies by planting exotic melons, sunflowers, and giant heirloom tomatoes. My mistake was ignoring the realities of the local climate and soil conditions.”

Last year, he set more realistic goals. He grew eggplant, cherry tomatoes, kale, basil, and groundcherries, small, yellow berries also known as strawberry tomatoes . . . and was far more successful. 

“We had a huge crop,” he said. In fact, it was a bit too big. “We can only eat so much kale, groundcherries, and eggplant.” 

His plan for this year, he said, is to mix in family favorites such as cucumber and snap peas. And, undeterred by past failure, he is going to experiment with plants he expects will be fun trying to grow, namely Tigger Asian melon and acorn squash.

“Gardening is infinitely fun, and it’s remarkably humbling,” said Mr. Klein, who now has a YouTube channel, “Ned’s Garden,” on which he posts tutorials on topics like how to prune citrus trees, and how to make a living wall from the pothos plant, a vine used as a house plant. “It’s a great way for me to share what I’ve learned,” he said. 

For those who are contemplating growing their own vegetables, Mr. Klein said, “You have to be realistic about what you want from your garden, and how much time you’re willing to put in each week.” The rewards for dedicating yourself to a backyard garden, he said, is “you’ll never stop learning, and you’ll always have another harvest to look forward to.”