Norm Schettler's Garden

The Daily Times Herald, Carroll, Iowa,  Monday, June 6, 2011

Schettler's Garden Springs into Taste-bud Popping Summer

By Jane Lawson

Nothing says summer like a red ripe, juicy strawberry picked fresh from the garden.

The first day of summer isn’t officially until June 21, but summer fruits and vegetables await you at Schettler’s Garden, just north of Carroll off Highway 71.

 Photo: Norm and Diane Schettler family

Thirty years ago, Norm and Diane Schettler decided to grow their own garden after wanting a change from raising hogs. They began taking classes and spoke with Hank Taber, professor of horticulture and extension vegetable specialist at Iowa State University, on how to get started.

They began with green beans, strawberries, and asparagus and they just kept adding more and more fruits and vegetables. Now Diane describes Schettler’s Garden as growing “anything you can think of” including zucchini, okra, squash, melons, and much, much more. The Schettlers have remained in the same location since the beginning, and the couple has continued to take more growing classes through the years.

The garden is open from the beginning of June until the first frost. Customers can come and pick their own fruit and vegetables in the mornings or they can have it picked for them and pick it up during the day.

Norm and Diane work together in the garden in Carroll, but split up to cover two farmer’s markets. Norm travels to Sioux City’s farmer’s market twice a week, while Diane handles the farmer’s market in Carroll on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings from June to October.

Diane’s sewing shop is located near the garden so she can keep an eye on the garden while keeping busy with her sewing. She does alterations and many other sewing projects. Diane has taught all of her “girls” — her daughter and eight granddaughters how to sew on the sewing machine at age five.

Besides gardening and sewing, Diane also enjoys quilting, but says her favorite thing to do is cook, especially with produce from their garden. She uses fresh produce all through the summer and fall and also cans fruits and vegetables to use later in the year.

Diane loves to make jams and jellies and likes to incorporate many different fruits into her specialty flavors, including plums, strawberries, blueberries, currants, and gooseberries. She has several customers at the farmer’s markets come to buy their favorite flavors. She says a jar of homemade jam should last a year on the shelf.

The garden is an ideal place for children to grow up. The Schettlers’ children and grandchildren have learned useful, hands-on lessons on planting, growing, and harvesting while getting to pick and taste the food straight from the garden. All of Norm and Diane’s five children were garden workers and now a few of the grandchildren are garden helpers, as well.

Norm and Diane have five children, eleven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Oldest, son David, is an engineer. He and his wife, Kathy, live near Atlanta, Ga, with their two children, Lucas and Laura. Tony is a custom welder and lives with his wife, Christy, in Breda. They have three daughters, Kristen, Madison, and Ashlyn. Kristen is married to Eric Young and they have a son, Logan. Madison and Ashlyn are both garden workers. Mark, of Carroll, is a contractor in Lake View and has two daughters, Brooke and Hannah. Ann Schmitz is their only daughter and she and her husband, Gary, live in Mt. Carmel with their four children, Alex, Emma, Samantha, and Ben. Alex and Emma are also garden helpers. Youngest son, Adam, lives in Texas and is an engineer at a glass plant right across the border in Oklahoma.

No matter the day, the garden is always a fun place for the grandkids to be. They love to go fishing in the pond and play with the cats and baby chicks.

Norm and Diane’s kitchen is also a favorite hangout. Their grandkids love to help in the kitchen. Diane makes homemade play-doh and because of the popularity of cake making and decorating television shows, Diane says they love to create their own “amazing” cakes with play-doh.

If one has never gardened before, Diane recommends starting with something fairly simple to grow such as tomatoes, radishes, or lettuce. Start small and make sure you can keep up with the weeding before adding more.

Marinated Tomato Slices

According to Diane, this fresh side dish “goes with anything.” Fresh tomatoes are a summer treat. Norm says tomatoes will be at their peak from the middle of July to the first of August. The Schettlers offer a tip when picking tomatoes: tomatoes should orange all the way through and beginning to turn red when picked. If they are too red, they will bruise easily.

For dressing, whisk together:
2/3 c vegetable oil
½ c apple cider vinegar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp salt
2 T sugar
½ tsp pepper

Layer tomatoes with thinly sliced onion and 4 T fresh, chopped basil or 3 T dried basil. Pour dressing over tomatoes, onions and basil. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Occasionally spoon dressing over tomatoes. Serve tomatoes on top of lettuce salad, if desired. You may also add sliced cucumbers or zucchini.

Grape Salad

This recipe is courtesy of daughter-in-law, Kathy Schettler, David’s wife, of Georgia. It originally calls for red grapes, but Diane likes to use a combination of red and green grapes. Diane serves this as a salad or as a dessert in a glass bowl. This pretty dish is a grandkids’ favorite.

The Schettler’s red seedless table grapes are ready in the fall.

4 lbs seedless grapes (red, green, or combination – kept whole, washed, stems removed, patted dry)
Whip together:
1 8 oz pkg softened cream cheese
1 8 oz carton sour cream
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla

In a bowl, combine cream cheese mixture and grapes and chill overnight. Before serving, mix together ¾ c brown sugar and ¾ c chopped pecans and sprinkle on top.

Raspberry Muffins

Diane received this recipe from her sister, Dori Lippon, of Okoboji. A raspberry muffin is a little bit unusual, but delicious idea. The addition of lemon yogurt not only adds a bit more lemon flavor, it also makes the muffins moist.

Diane says the easiest way to freeze raspberries is to spread them onto a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer before storing them in a freezer bag. There is no need to wash them first.

Mix together:
2 c flour
½ c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp soda

8 oz lemon yogurt
½ c oil
2 eggs
1 tsp lemon zest

Then fold in 1 c fresh or frozen raspberries. Fill muffin cups ¾ full.

1/3 c sugar
¼ c flour
2 T butter

Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes our clean.

Apple or Rhubarb Crisp

Norm and Diane each have their favorite version of this dessert. Norm prefers rhubarb because it’s less sweet, while Diane’s favorite is apple. Diane says any variety of apple can be used. She likes to use Macintosh, which are ready at the end of August. A scoop or two of vanilla ice cream is perfect atop this homemade crisp.

Mix together and spoon into 9 x 13 pan:

4 c fruit
1 T flour
½ c sugar (use more sugar for rhubarb)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon


1 c brown sugar
1 c oatmeal
1 c flour
½ tsp soda
½ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
½ c melted butter

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Frozen Strawberry Squares

According the Schettlers, strawberry season has been pushed back just a little this year due to the colder weather. Diane says the strawberries look really nice this year and should peak about the middle of June. Walnuts or pecans can be used in this dessert. Diane and Norm love Black walnuts, although their kids and grandkids prefer English walnuts.

Diane will always remember the first year they planted strawberries because it was also the year their youngest son was born on June 29, the peak of the strawberry season. She was very pregnant at the time, but still worked to harvest the berries and received much sympathy from her friends and neighbors.

Mix together:
1 c flour
1/4 c brown sugar
½ c nuts (walnuts or pecans)
1 stick margarine

Place 2/3 of mixture in 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Save remaining 1/3 for topping.

Beat together 2 egg whites until stiff. Add 1 box partially thawed or 2 c fresh chopped sugared berries, 2 T lemon juice, and 2/3 c sugar. Beat for 5 minutes, then fold in one 8 oz container of Cool Whip (thawed) and sprinkle remaining crumbs on top. Freeze 6 hours or longer. Cut into squares and serve.



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