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The first week of March, Elaine transfers the seedlings to the greenhouse, no matter the weather. (Dan sometimes has to plow a path through the snow.) Mid-April brings transplanting and a two-day party at the Douglas home. They invite friends and family, serve a big lunch and get the hard work done. From that point on, they simply tend and water. Dan remains Elaine's trusted gardener. "He's my helper," she says gratefully, then adds with a twinkle in her eye, "but it's my business!"
Along with the tomatoes and peppers, Elaine grows classic kitchen garden plants—cucumbers, squashes, herbs and flowers for summer bouquets. "I like the things I remember my grandmother growing when I was little," she explains. One of her few regrets is that her grandmother didn't live to see the way Elaine has carried on the family tradition. She would undoubtedly be proud to see how Elaine's green thumb, industry and entrepreneurial spirit have combined to create a local institution. "Her stand is one of the neighborhood places," says Dunn. "It's a holdout of the way New Canaan used to be."