Yvonne Kimm lives surrounded by potato fields and potato farmers. A native of Manitoba, she married a potato farmer who’s the son, grandson, and brother of potato farmers.
So what did Yvonne do? She became a potato farmer. With a difference: she became an organic potato farmer and one of a handful of certified organic seed potato producers in Montana. I interviewed her at her farm, ten or fifteen miles west of my town Bozeman; you can listen to or download the show, No Small Potatoes, by following that link, or by navigating from the webtalkradio.net. logo in the right sidebar. Continue reading
Continuing my policy of acquiring plots that offer maximum challenge to the gardener, I have most recently adopted a swath along the alley that runs down the middle of my block. Alleys, by the way, are one of the things that I believe make for civilized life: they get cars off the street, encourage garages to stop dominating house fronts and take up a discreet position in back yards, and provide much-needed privacy between those yards.
However, they are not especially garden-friendly. The strip I’ve tackled, like most along alleys, is heavily compacted, stony, and weed-infested. Maybe eight feet wide and twelve long, it flanks an outbuilding on the west side of the alley, and is overgrown with grass and creeping bellflower (my nemesis, though not my arch-nemesis). It caught my eye because it gets full morning sun and plenty of reflected warmth from the wall behind it, and I don’t have to walk through anyone’s yard to get through it.
That’s what my basket looked like after a harvesting sweep of my legumes yesterday. So what is wrong with this picture? Well, lots of things: it’s slightly out of focus, doesn’t boast especially interesting composition….
But let’s ignore the formal limitations of the photograph, focus on content, and ask the question again:
What’s wrong with this picture?
Nasal surgery three days back has me feeling like I've been punched in the nose AND I've got one of those terrible colds that leave you totally stuffed up, except I can't blow my nose. The purpose is to help my sleep apnea, and it had better work.
Since I'm not allowed to bend over or do any heaving lifting, just about the only thing I can do relating to the garden is blog about it. So here goes.
Here's what this summer's second plot looked like three years ago–after I'd trimmed back the weeds several times:
This plot is so big, so historic, that when I actually finished it three weekends back, I felt as if I'd just dropped a forty-pound backpack I'd been hauling around for years. It's the last stretch in the big garden next door which I've now been working through three or four “generations” of young renters. I'm still in mourning for the last batch, five great guys who taught me to play beer pong (I was really lousy, even before the beer) and who came over for a couple of fine turkey dinners, one of them in May because it took us that long to get a quorum.
This June, three years after moving in, they moved on, and after three rounds of guys, there are now women in the house. All seem friendly and interesting; they're photographers, cyclists, backpackers, readers, serious cooks. All of that is great, but it begs the essential question: will they let me raise vegetables in half their back yard? Fortunately, they will.
A quickie, here, as it's already after eleven. But I did want to show off my kale harvest, centerpiece of tonight's veggies. I've been picking tiny leaves for salad for weeks, and had one other mid-size leaf harvest, but this is the first big collection of leaves eight to ten inches long–not counting the stems.
Snugged down in that collander where you can't see them are the dandelion greens, which I've chosen to reproduce in miniature, so you won't notice how out of focus the picture is.