149. Neighborhood Gardeners of Idaho Facebook Group | Richard Mata | Nampa, Idaho

Richard and Sara Mata


Richard Mata is a listener and member of the Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook Group and he is here to tell us about his gardening journey in Nampa, Idaho!  Richard is a great experimenter and inspirer and shares his passion for creating a greener world while growing some great tasting food!

Neighborhood Gardeners of Idaho

Neighborhood Gardeners of Idaho Facebook Group

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

I specifically remember this day. I think I was probably around 6-7 years old. I was in my grandpa & grandma’s yard. Had a pretty good garden. They had a lot of corn, and it was taller then me and my older sister. We ended up playing tag through the corn and my grandpa came out and was like “Get out of there!” and it was like a giant corn maze, when you’re young you can’t really see anything and it was really cool. It was like the first experience I had in the garden and I remember!

My grandma picked the tomatoes! Right off the vine! It so awesome! So that always stuck with me throughout my years, growing up stuff like that. 

Where my mom and my dad never had … My dad was in the military, we moved around a lot. WE lived in apartment building mostly…. We moved to Germany twice… basically I’m an army brat… first we lived in North Carolina, then we went to Colorado, back to Germany again for 6 years… then moved back to the states then we lived in Texas in El Paso, close to San Antonio and then the Navy said they’d pay for one final move so we ended up here in Nampa, ID! 

So I was gonna ask is that where you were with your grandparent in North Carolina?

They were actually in Texas in San Antonio

me and my older sister were playing tag in that cornfield

we never had a garden

right after we moved up here to Idaho

my parents finally had a house and some land

I helped them with that

a couple of years after that

went to college for a little while I thought as soon as I get my own place I’m gonna start a garden.

Now you have kids yourself? or foster kids?

I used to live here in Nampa Idaho, I met this gorgeous woman, my wife! Anyways I met her and we ended up getting marry, had adopted 3 boys from a prior marriage and they basically became my boys and we’re just one big family and we foster as well, whenever there are kids out there that need help. We just foster. That’s basically it. 

My boys they love to help! They help me in the garden they love being in the garden, they love to help. They’re always asking When are we gonna weed? When are we gonna do this? When are we gonna do that?

How old are they?

15, 11, 8 …

They grow fast! I know how that goes! I can’t ever keep up with my grandchildren!

How did you learn how to garden organically?

My parents just went ahead and gardened just like everybody else, I think they might have gardened using chemicals unfortunately on some of their stuff. When I did mine. I just learned off the internet, I just searched and educated myself.

There’s a popular saying, my wife and brother-in-law say frequently “Google is your friend!”

All  you have to do is type in whatever question you got!

Educate yourself on anything you want to know… I find everything online. And listening to podcasts. I only listen to like 2 podcasts and yours is one of them!

I have to say that’s cause of my wonderful guests like you now, who share their story and teach us their tips!


Tell us about something that grew well this year.

My tomatoes are doing actually better then my peppers. Some of my peppers didn’t make it. One of my beds, I actually left my sprinkler on and I think they drowned. I’m trying to get them to recover. I have a few tomato plants and pepper plants. 

My cherry tomatoes my rapunzel tomato plants are doing pretty good. Can see some ripe ones…they’re doing surprisingly well… I didn’t think their were gonna do that well but they’re doing really good.

What do you think is the success with them?

IDK, I did I know I’m watering correctly, Last year I ended up watering too much, I watered the whole plant they say not to water the whole plants. I’m not watering the leaves, trying not to get the leaves too wet. Trying to train them on the trellis a little bit, trying to get them to stay on the string trellis. IDK they’re just  just doing really well, maybe the type… they’re doing really cool!

Are they in pots or are they in beds?

They’re in beds. Planted 3 of them right next to each other. I planted them a little too close to each other in the bed. It’s not too bad. tehy have enough room. They’re growing pretty good. I have other tomatoes in there too! I have some purple cherokee tomatoes, not quite as good as the other ones I can see some tomatoes forming.

Excited about the tomatoes!

II know mike was yelling at me the other day not to get water on the green beans, I thought you just had to worry in the sun, but I guess your nots supposed to get them wet at all and always get the base.

I didn’t even know that till this year, I used to just water everything…. I just turned the sprinkler on.. .that’s the learning process of everything.

I thought we just watered the base of the plants not to waste it but he said the other day don’t get the water on the leaves they don’t like that.


Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

Next year, I guess I’m excited garlic …

Gonna try garlic this year, I’m excited about that

Hopefully tomorrow gonna plant some turnip seeds… I got some seeds from my mother in law.d

Mother in law gave me a bunch of seeds

even though I love food! I don’t know many recipes

with turnips

The other day he was laughing at me because I bought some turnips but they were actually a turnip green. It’s kind of a cross between a potato and an apple kind of. I love turnips! What I love to do with them is just salt and pepper.

Can you eat the greens then?

Idk really because the seeds I bought are just specifically for the greens. And I guess don’t grow the actual turnips?

I think you’ll like those!

See if they come in tomorrow? IDK if you saw my Instagram feed yet? I just posted them?

New Seeds to plant

Mike said do you think we should put another packet of broccoli seeds directly in the soil? I was like YEAH! What the heck? What’;s a packet of seeds? $2-3? And what will we get if it works and maybe it will!

I have beets planned to plant tomorrow. IDK if you saw my Instagram I posted a couple of my seeds I’m gonna plants…

I planted some

It’s been a tricky year, it was super hot in June then cool wet…. 

Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.

My bell peppers they just didn’t make it, I’m kind of bummed out about that. Some of them didn’t make it into the ground,DIK  id I overwatered them, or I waited too long. I had one little one and he didn’t make it I was like hey little buddy, prove me wrong. I was like poor guy. I put him out next to the tomatoes… he ever got more then four inches high…

I think you have to have 2 plants to pollinate. 

I think, IDK about all the plants. I had an old peach tree in my backyard, one of my father-in-law’s said I think you need one other type of peach tree to pollinate it… it kind of gave up on me and I had to take it out too that was kind of a bummer… peach trees are not my forte necessarily, I wish I could have an orchard of peach trees. a couple of apple trees would be cool too… it’s gonna be all garden for me.

That’s funny you say that, I have this one pear tree that I sit under all the time, and the other tree a few feet away from it, I was like has that ever produced pears? He was like no that’s the pollinator tree! I think it produce flowers too but maybe it doesn’t produce pears? 

Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden.

Mmmm well let me see… I love gardening all of it basically, I think I have

I call it the 3 ws

  • watering
  • waiting
  • weeding

Weeding is not so bad now, I looked online, IDK where I found it someone put newspaper down and put compost on top of it, and wet it and the weeds don’t grow there at all! You keep the soil nice and moist so you don’t have to water it as much

I did it just to see, I didn’t want to do it in both of my beds, I was afraid, it might not work, but it was amazing! It’s so cool, you hardly have to weed at all! Just put the newspaper down and it works! Don’t have to pick out or anything, it just helps the soil, decomposes! IT’s really cool! It was a really neat idea!

That will help with the weeding and sometimes the watering. I want to make my own drip system, something so I don’t have to go out there every time and stand there and wait! 

I hear ya! Sometimes at the end of a long day, when you only have a limited bit of time, it doesn’t seem like it takes long, sometimes it can be, moving the hose around, to get it to go where you want it to go, and it gets stuck on a rock, or running over the baby plants… lots of times on a hot sunny day,… putting the compost and straw down not only does it supress the weeds it doesn’t require as much water!

What’s the W?!!!

While your waiting?

I KNOW IT takes a long time! I’m like how do you have the patience?

I know you have your veggies coning on all at once, then when it ready it comes on all at once… today we finally made it down to the garden and picked the cherries, but am I gonna get a chance to actually pit them? And then bake them? 

What is your favorite activity to do in the garden?

Harvesting! I think, harvesting is probably my most favorite thing to do. I love to get the boys out there and they get so excited! Look at the size of that tomato! There’s another pepper! They ask is it ready to pick? and I’ll be like yeah go for it?!!

At the beginning of the season, getting everything ready. getting the soil ready, if you have to get fertilizer, or buy soil? Or seed packets?

Plant Supplies for Spring

funny! I remember, beginning of the year, IDK where i was at home depot or some store with the seeds and there’s no way I could plant them all! I took a selfie, oh boy its’ happening!!!

I TOTALLY know what you mean! I always get sucked in and excited and then at the end of the spring when the plants are on sale and I’m like oh I need one of these and these and one thing I was better about this year was not planting everything at the same time I spread them out a little more then usual and that worked good for my lettuce and stuff.

I definitely get better at doing that! I think, I planted I had like 20-25  pepper plants I gave like 8 of them away. That’s the problem, I had so much, I wanted to plant them all, it was too early to plant them, I didn’t  have any time. I was working lot, getting off lateI was exhausted, my job is very exhausting. So I think the lesson was waiting too long, I learned my lesson, I’m gonna build more raised beds during the winter so I have them ready for the spring time. Some people are already eating their tomatoes, full sized. Mine are still really small? Im thinking I have to start my seeds even earlier? I have to look, that up?

I was gonna say maybe their using some kind of nasty chemical. 

Is miracle grow ok?

No, I don’t trust any of their products even if it says organic on it. 

Peggy Ousley one of my first guests talked about if you get manure from horses that have been fed “weed-free” hay they have actually been eating food that has chemicals on it to make it weed free and that can wreak havoc on people’s gardens.

I still think composting is the best, just mixing in your scraps etc. Working at the restaurant has been really nice because they let me take all their scraps home and our compost has been growing so incredible. 

When I got into composting! I kind of went nuts. I think it’s so fascinating, it’s so neat, kind of like planting, that you can grow, you have control over that little plant and it produces fruit

it’s for me it’s awesome! Same with composting that you can turn all that garbage and that leftover stuff to make rich soil and It helps to grow your plants even bigger and bigger?! 

IDK why its such an awesome thing for me and growing plants it’s such a satisfying thing to me!!!

No, I was just thinking, what make people if I was more successful I would maybe do more of it, composting is something I’m successful about it, it’s very forgiving, sometimes it helps to liet it sit and then it gets a darker color, it’s an easy, you don’t have to worry about if you didn’t water every day in the hot of summer. For me it’s something I can be successful at, and people like wheat they are successful at… 

What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?

It’s funny, the best advice I probably received is don’t overdo it, don’t plant too much!  Don’t try to grow too much!

I did it 3 years in a row! You can’t help it! Maybe next year I will pull in the reigns, be a little bit more picky. And try not to overdo it!

I had so many seedlings! 

popping up with so many different varieties

I’m gonna plant tomatoes

You don’t realize a different types of tomatoes

I’m gonna plant some of these,

before you know it you have like 10 different varieties of tomatoes and 50 trays etc! IT’s crazy it’s addicting!

I remember Mary St Jacques saying remember to take a picture at the end of the year that your squash plants are gonna get THIS BIG!!! IT seems like you forget how much things are gonna grow!

I actually did that, I gave a ton away! I put a few of the plants in to my compost and a few weeks later something was sprouting, Idk if it was

whatever you turn your compost with I noticed something was sprouting! You know its good when somethings just growing out of the ground!

Yeah! I have seen tons of great volunteers come out of the compost bin!

A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.

I thought about this question. I thought my broad fork, a pitchfork…and you can use that to break the ground up, whenever you’re gonna get your beds ready for the next season. I learned that it’s better to stick that in there and crack the top soil, crack it a bunch of times, and put fresh compost and amendments and not to till it up so much, disturbs all he worms and microbes that keep your soil rich

I use that

at that time I didn’t have a pitchfork

maybe just a basic hoe,

would be something I wound’t want to be without

universal,  you can make trenches, weed and stuff. 

Probably my pitchfork, would be the one I wouldn’t want to be without.

I rarely ever use a hoe? IDK mike probably does. A rake, I turn things over with a shovel, to smooth out the dirt before planting. I’m always surprised when people say that? Because I just hardly ever use a hoe.


A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?

Making Peperoncinos? Pickled banana peppers!

I had like maybe 2 big mason jars of Peperoncinos and one of my sons loves them almost as much as I do, I put them on everything salads and tacos! I made some for the first time, I pickled my own, they turned out really good, really awesome!

I can’t really remember anything else, we basically just use the tomatoes that come out of the garden!


I had 3 plants last year, they really produce they really  produced a lot of tomatillos.

I made salsa with that! If you ever need some green salsa. look up some good recipes

Green Salsa All Recipes

I tend to go all recipes online for salsa,  green salsa. There’s a couple of ways you put some jalapeños, lime juice! It tastes so much more fresher when you just make it on your kitchen counter right there then going to the store and buying it in a jar! 

Yeah! I go there too! I use their recipe for french toast at work! 

A favorite internet resource?

probably just the internet… Im on Facebook a lot there’s a lot of Facebook groups … you can get a lot of information from there.

fresh eggs daily

fresh eggs daily

Free range

they are kind of free range so they lay their eggs in weird places, sometimes the boys have to go and look for them and they love that we find them under some board or some tree!

How many do you have?

WE only have 3

henrietta, pepper and I call her red …

I call my rooster red too! What kind of chickens are they? The only kind I really know are bantys anyway?!

Pepper and Henrietta chickens

One road island red, they’re black and white, I think their called rock something with rock in it. They’re black and white. One we named pepper and the other one is henrietta, every time I go tot the back door they come running, I usually have a slice of bread they just go to town on that…

I love that fresh eggs daily, I’mm always checking that

fresh eggs daily facebook page

I’m gonna put, if you put a clove of garlic in their water, it helps with immune system…

gives them some of vitamins…

They’re whenever the boys go out and they find a whole clutch of eggs, that we missed for a week we have to check them we put them in water if they float….

Always check you eggs!

I like that tip. If they are floating they are not good?

Yeah if they float they are no good. If they are standing up and down, if they are floating to the top I would just toss them. 

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?

You know I hate to admit that I am an internet junkie… or whatever, whenever I want t find anything out I just search the interent. books and stuff, I don’t really tend to not read many books, for gardening… except of that one that I got form you….I do like to read… the gardening stuff… when I go online

google or the facebook group I’ll ask questions on there.

I actually started my own

Neighborhood Gardeners of Idaho

Neighborhood Gardeners of Idaho Facebook Group.

I only have 29 members!

That’s a good start!

Some of my family pictures. It’s not very active that’s why I haven’t been on there until recently. pictures on there. Yeah, I go there once in a while. To post.

Well that stuff already takes some time too!! What podcast do you listen to? You know I always like to share the love.

Gardening Podcasts

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 11.18.58 AM

Urban Farm and Garden Show! 2 guys. They’re very one of the guys is Larry, he is very an ex science teacher, who also does gardening. Very informative and very they work really well together, repartee is very good! 

I started listening to them the same time I started listening to your show! They gave me lots of info, my nice was getting me into planting and stuff and I recommended them and your show too! I told her to listen to your show too! She’s gonna be surprised if she here’s me on the podcast!

Hi Maya!

Hi Maya! You might want to follow me on SnapChat too!

I was gonna do that! My wife is on snap chat! But I havent’ had to do it.

I love snapchat. My favorite part is you can write on your pictures. So sometimes I write on a picture and then I just save it and I can post it on Instagram or Facebook. My granddaughter that’s the only way she communicates with me, one of my step-daughters is like that too! I love snap chat it’s totally  addicting.

I was gonna say, maybe you should gonna talk to them! 

Oh yeah I ‘m gonna! 

They’re really cool and so full of information!

that’s ok there’s room for all of us all ships rise in a high tide! The goal is the more high quality podcasts out there the better. I listen to lots of podcasts!

Final question- if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

I think mine would be there’s a lot out there. Every little organization, anything that helps make the world greener is obviously good and a step in the right direction. Needs to start smaller, everybody locally in your neighborhood,

I would say just plant something! Either one or two tomatoes plants on your. back window, plant something. Then let it spread! Let everybody feel what it’s like to grow something! It’s really cool! And then show the next generation, show your kids that , show your neighbors kids that, your nieces and nephews, even if it doesn’t stick with them. They’ll still remember that “It’s somewhat important!” to our societies that we grow our own fruits and vegetables and 7 peach trees in their backyards or a field of corn, you gotta know where your food is coming from!

If everybody just starts doing that, the demand for some the foods wont’ be so much and the prices will go down and we could stop bringing in so much food from the outside and grow it closer to home locally. I think that educating yourself and the next generation and

not that the other organizations out there, the People Against Monsanto, not to say anything against them, that’s still fighting the good fight… but the wasteful food. another big thing, the grocery stores throwing out, that could be given to people or sold for a low price. The amount of food that gets thrown away is mind boggling. some people are starving out there or maybe just need a little help.  We have so much a food surplus in America we’re throwing things away. It’s not the Great Depression away. That’s why Monsanto was created, to help boost that production of supply fairly good amount to support America and I havent’ done a lot of research on Monsanto

IDK the whole thing.

pretty sure, there are scientists it’s not gonna hurt anybody, just there to help production of the plants, but why mess with a thing that doesn’t need to be messed with anymore. We don’t need the mass production of so much food that we’re just throwing it away? Why not do it the way great grandmas did it, without the chemicals, do it yourself!

That’s true I just interviewed this guy Patrick Mullin from Alfrea who talked about how much food we are wasting and article from National Geographic  about the waste in school lunches etc. and I love what you said get your kids involved overwhelmingly that’s been a theme on my show, lots of guests say they resisted when they were young. Don’t really force them to do weeding but just hang out with them and you’ll be surprised how much they enjoy it later on. 

Do u have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?

Its almost exactly what I said before just plant something.


Get your hands in the dirt

It’s so

I was talking to my bother-in-law about this one time

he was like why do like gardening so much?

Even though you plan, you’re eventually gonna get your hands dirty, dirt under your nails! Then you plant something and see it grow and its so rewarding! It’s awesome!

He was like, “You know, you found something you really love because whenever someone explains to me about dirt that well, you know you love what your doing!” IDK it’s all from planting stuff! So just go out and do it! Be patient! Get out there! Plant something!

Plant flowers! Flowers are awesome! I just recently planted some for my wife in some pots and stuff like that, and I’m like  this **** is cool man you know! it’s very rewarding! I think it is! Some people! Once you get that bug! The next year, you’re like I’m gonna plant this and I’m gonna plant this! Just do it! Im gonna do next year!

I think that is perfect and your enthusiasm! Like you’re brother in law said. You can really tell your passionate about it, and your spreading that joy and others of us are gonna be like I gotta get down to my garden like Richard! And I totally agree about flowers. My snapchat today I took pictures of my garden and they’re perennials and they come back year after year so you just have to plant them the one time, 

And with the tomatoes I agree, I like cherry tomatoes because where we are its hard to get the red ones on the vine but it’s always fun to plant a few extra things and some are gonna  put them in the ground and see what happens and you’ll be excited next year!

Next year Im gonna throw some extra flower plants, some plants that the bees like! That’s something I should have touched on too, bees are very important, basically to all your plants but they’re the pollinators! My wife’s not that fond of bees, I tell her well the honeybees, leave them alone!

Yeah it’s amazing how many different types of bees there are.

I think if everybody just does a little bit! It’s doesn’t have to be gardening. What’s the important things to do society, to have a greener world … everybody who’s doing whatever they can … doesn’t have to be planting, somebody fighting against Monsanto,( you can learn about the March against Monsanto in my interview with Carol Blake in Episode 91) or making their own green compost,  or selling it… if everybody’s who doing just their little part! It’s all positive its carrying us forward towards that goal of a greener world, it doesn’t have to be one thing! As long as everybody is doing something! everything counts….

GMOomgOh, you were talking about Monsanto, I’ve been wanting to get Elizabeth Kucinich on because she on the board for Rodale, but she is also a producer and she is the executive producer for the Movie GMO OMG! And there’s this scene where he’s asking you’re saying that that field over there is a field of poison growing and the guys like yep, and that’s how toxic it is that the corn is actually registered with the USDA as a pesticide. I have watched this movie several times. She said she would and something came up so I have to get back to her!

As Bill McDorman says in interview 100, don’t worry about Monsanto just save your seeds, get your seeds acclimated to your area. So it’s great that you have your Facebook group for swapping seeds because that’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my podcast is that saving seeds and having local seeds makes a huge difference in your garden. I had no idea it made such a big difference i you bought new seeds every year or saved yours. The more we have that going on sharing seeds, saving seeds so I LOVE what you’re saying is plant anything and if it just goes to seed that’s awesome because it is spreading those seeds around! 

RICHARD You ROCK!!! I know listeners are gonna be so inspired to get out in the dirt and get their kids out there like you do and I can’t believe how sweet you and your wife are and  you guys are heroes taking in foster kids and adopting 3 children that are you own! I love seeing your pictures in the Facebook group and thanks so much for listening today I hope you’ll connect both in the Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook Community! and Richard’sNeighborhood Gardeners of Idaho Facebook Group! And my website is getting a revamp so by the end of August it should be looking sharp! By Maya we hope to talk to you when you get your own garden growing!!!! 

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About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

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