Michael Brady Lynch’s Baldwin Park garden nourishes his body — and his spirit.

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  • | 9:00 a.m. June 1, 2024
Resident Michael Lynch pruning his tomato plants.
Resident Michael Lynch pruning his tomato plants.
Courtesy photo
  • Baldwin Park Living
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For Baldwin Park resident Michael Brady Lynch, gardening is more than just a pastime; it is nourishment for the soul.

“My wife, Rachel, is convinced I have a little bit of Hobbit in my blood,” Michael says. “Because as Bilbo Baggins says in ‘The Lord of The Rings,’ ‘All Hobbits share a love of things that grow.’”

Spending his formative years in New Jersey, Michael was accustomed to enjoying very tasty tomatoes every summer. 

“Sadly, vine-ripened, delicious tomatoes aren’t always easy to find in Central Florida,” he says. “Most supermarket tomatoes are grown for appearance and hardiness in transport as opposed to flavor.

“Many people have an impression of New Jersey that is limited to the views from the New Jersey Turnpike,” he says. “People forget that New Jersey is named The Garden State. New Jersey is in actuality a leader in agricultural production in the United States.

“When I lived in New Jersey, I always had a garden every summer — whether as a teenager living with my parents or on my own as an adult,” Michael says. “When I moved to Florida in 2003, I thought my gardening days were over.”

Having moved in 2015 to Baldwin Park, Michael tried for several years to grow grass in his backyard. 

“I kind of felt like Sisyphus rolling the rock uphill,” he says. “Every time I thought the grass would survive, something would happen, and I was back to square one with dead sod.”

Michael’s mother, Virginia, who lives with the couple, eventually impressed upon him to finally give up on the idea of grass and try his hand at gardening again. 

Tomatoes are one of the many items Michael Brady Lynch grows at his Baldwin Park home.
Courtesy photo

“I think Mom really missed the taste of a home-grown, fully vine-ripened tomato,” he says. “My mom does a lot for our family and she deserves a good tomato. As it turned out, in Baldwin Park you can have a delicious crop of tomatoes utilizing only a small portion of the available backyard space.

“I have a modest backyard in my home in Baldwin,” he says. “I make the best use with raised bed planters for tomatoes and other vegetables throughout the year. But not everyone wants one-half or one-third of their backyard devoted to a garden. And the lovely trees we value so much here in Baldwin are great for their beauty and shade but do very little to contribute to the growing of grass, let alone vegetables.”

His experience has shown that with proper planning and sunlight considerations and the strategic use of pots, you can have quite a nice garden in Baldwin Park. 

“I was growing my tomatoes in the ground for years, but in the off-season, the backyard didn’t look particularly attractive,” he says. “Raised bed planters really streamlined the planting process and esthetically are much easier on the eyes. I also switched from trying (in vain) to grow grass to ground cover, which has worked out very well.

“My friend Mimi Simmons, of Mimi Simmons Design, had the suggestion to switch to raised beds and ground cover,” he says. “It really changed the whole way I approach the backyard.”

Michael starts his planting season in early January with tomatoes in raised beds, with fruit ripe for picking in spring and early summer.

“I also utilize pots for blueberries, Meyer lemons, key limes and Haas avocados,” he says. 

He has even experimented with some low-chill peach varieties, which he says is a crop dependent on how cold a winter we get each year.

Michael says a nice element of a Baldwin Park backyard garden is that getting up and running is both easy and simple. 

“I purchased galvanized steel raised garden bed kits right from Amazon,” he says. “There are a lot of size options for every yard. They require a little assembly, but you don’t need anything other than a socket wrench and some elbow grease. The tomato cages are available right at Home Depot. At the end of the season, I stack and store them in my garage for the next season.” 

Another nice feature of a backyard garden is it requires only a minimal investment in gardening tools.  

“A long-handled spade shovel, hand trowel and sturdy metal rake are all you really need,” Michael says. “I even have special waterproof gardening shoes, but that might be going overboard for those just getting started.”

Michael does swear by one absolute must-have for gardening: Gloves.

In his experience, Baldwin Park soil can be hit or miss. For that reason, Michael suggests spending the extra dollar and going with high quality in-ground soil from a nursery or big-box retailer.

“For in-ground soil, I used a combination of 1/2 garden soil and 1/2 potting mix,” he says. “Palmer’s Garden right down the way has a very nice Professional Growing Mix that I have had good results with for many years. I hand-till the ground at the start of the planting season and supplement with some additional potting mix. For my fruit, citrus and flowers growing in pots, I use the Professional Growing Mix exclusively.”

Michael advises that watering is crucial for plant health and production. 

“Anything in a pot requires more watering than in-ground, especially in the hot summer,” he says. “For the tomatoes, most of my growing season is over before the really hot months arrive, so I water only one to two times a week.”

If Michael has one pet peeve, it is that cardinals and squirrels just love ripe tomatoes. 

Squirrels are one of the animals that love ripe tomatoes.
Courtesy photo

“My general rule is that if you spy a tomato that you think is ripe for picking, pick it,” he says. “Don’t wait until tomorrow, because you might wake up the next morning and find it a mess.”

Gardening is a true family endeavor for the Lynch household. Rachel Lynch is involved in all the planting, maintenance and harvesting.

“Basically, not a day goes by when we don’t check out the progress of our fruits and vegetables,” he says. “And I can’t wait to get my little girl, Ava Christina, involved when she gets older. Back yard gardening is a great way to get kids learning at an early age about sustainable agriculture.”

The benefits of a home garden also go well beyond having delicious fruits and vegetables at your fingertips and the beautification of your surroundings. Gardening also can provide an excellent source of stress relief and personal satisfaction.

“It is immensely satisfying to see your efforts of garden preparation, planting and care produce such great results in such a short time,” he says. 

Michael is an attorney and operates his law practice, The Michael Brady Lynch Firm, from his home in Baldwin Park. Given the stressful nature of his profession, gardening offers an easily accessible respite from his workload. 

“Working from home is great, but you need to get out of the house a few times a day minimum,” he says. “On a nice day, there is nothing better than taking a break and checking out what is happening in the garden.

On the flip side, Michael says if there is a downside to tomatoes, it is that there are times you may actually have too many tomatoes. For times when the ripe crop becomes too much on a given day, Michael has an easy solution.

“I regularly do impromptu tomato deliveries to my neighbors and friends,” he says. 


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