Tag Archives: community gardens

Image from Zuni Cafe's Zucchini Pickles

Zucchini Bread-and-Butter Pickles with Ginger

If you’re like me,  you are probably wondering, “What am I going to do with all this summer squash!?!” Whether it’s yellow zucchini, green zucchini, striped zucchini, Crookneck, Pattypan, Romanesco, Cousa… you’ve probably got a lot of summer squash on your hands and beginning to wonder what else to do with it.  A couple weeks ago, it was exciting to slice one up for an omelet or throw some spears on the grill. However nowadays, the excitement has worn off, and I am just trying to keep up with the abundance that these plants can produce.

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Before you start secretively dropping unwanted squash plants in your friends’ car or on your neighbors’ doorstep, consider this recipe below for zucchini pickles. This recipe was given to me by a good friend, who adamantly doesn’t like “regular pickles.” And, from someone who doesn’t like bread-and-butter pickles, I promise you this isn’t like those mouth puckering, store-bought, bread-and-butter pickles either. These zucchini pickles are tender but firm, slightly sweet and tangy with a hint of cleansing ginger at the end. You’re sure to impress your friends at potlucks, and when the snow flies, you will even find yourself enjoying this essence of summer gardening in a jar.

Zucchini Bread-and-Butter Pickles with Ginger

Image credit: Craving Something Healthy
Image credit: Craving Something Healthy

Makes about 6 pint jars.

Ingredients:

4 pounds of zucchini

1 pound of mini onions (small sweet onions)

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

6 cups cider vinegar (5% acidity)

1/2 cup light agave nectar or 3/4 cup mild honey

1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder

6 thin rounds of fresh ginger

Directions:

Scrub the zucchini and cut them into 1/4-inch rounds (Emily’s note: I’ve made this recipe with 1/2-inch-wide spears, and that turned out well too). Cut the onions in half-lengthwise and thinly slice them into half-circles. Put the zucchini and onions in a large bowl and sprinkle with the 1/4 cup salt, tossing to combine. Cover with a layer of ice cubes and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Pick out any unmelted ice, drain well, and rinse under cold-running water. Toss with coriander seeds, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes and set aside.

Prepare for water-bath canning: Wash the jars and place them in the canning pot, fill with water and bring to a  boil. Put the flat lids in a heatproof bowl. (Emily’s note: For more directions about water-bath canning, I recommend you ask your closest “canning guru.” You can also find many resources online or in cookbooks with step by step directions.)

In a nonreactive pot, combine the apple cider vinegar, 1 1/2 cups water, the agave nectar (or honey), turmeric, mustard powder, and the remaining 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil.

Ladle boiling water from the canning pot into the bowl with the lids. Using a jar lifter, remove the hot jars from the canning pot, carefully pouring the water from each one back into the pot, and place them upright on a folded kitchen towel. Drain the water off the jar lids. (Reference your personal canning guru or other resources here if needed).

Working quickly, put a slice of ginger in each jar, then pack the zucchini and onion in the jars (not too tightly). Ladle the hot vinegar mixture into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace at the top. Gently swirl a chospstick or butter knife around the inside of each jar to remove air bubbles . Use a damp paper towel or clean kitchen towel to remove any residue on the rims of the jars. Then, put a flat lid and ring on each jar, adjusting the ring so that it’s just finger-tight. Return the jars to the water in the canning pot, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch.

Bring to a boil again, and boil for 15 minutes to process. Remove the jars to a folded towel and do not disturb for 12 hours. You should begin to hear popping sounds as the flat lids seal to the jar. After 1 hour, check that the lids have sealed by pressing down on the center of each; if it can be pushed down, it hasn’t sealed, and the jar should be refrigerated immediately and consumed as soon as possible because those that didn’t seal will not keep long-term. Label the sealed jars, store and enjoy during non-zucchini season.

This recipe is borrowed from Liana Krissoff and her book Canning for a New Generation.

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Wrangling Strawberries

Sweet, juicy strawberries are a treat right off the plant. Not only are they easy to grow, but they are also easy to find in all of the community gardens. Many of us have strawberries already growing in our plot or would like to plant some for next year. Whatever you have, it’s important to know how to plant, care and maintain a healthy strawberry patch to ensure a fruitful harvest and minimize disease and pests. Furthermore, the best time to wrangle your strawberry patch is after the fruit harvest, which is right now in Missoula. Below are guidelines and best practices for growing (and wrangling) strawberries in the garden.

Planting

The best way to plant strawberries in a home garden is in a matted row system, where daughter plants are allowed to develop into a solid mat, or in a spaced row system, where the daughter and mother plants are spaced evenly along the row.

(Warning: The photos below were taken from real-life community gardeners’ plots and may contain some weeds.)

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Strawberries (in front) in a matted planting.
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Strawberries in a spaced row planting.

To begin your new strawberry patch, ask a garden neighbor! Since strawberries spread with runners and always produce an abundance of daughter plants, your neighbor will probably be more than willing to share. Just make sure to ask first! You can also find strawberry starts at any local nursery.

Plant on slightly raised beds to assure good soil drainage and work rotted manure or compost into the soil to improve its structure and water-holding capacity. Form the soil beds 18-24 inches wide and three to four inches above grade. Make sure to provide adequate space for sprawling, and set plants 24 inches apart.

Make planting holes deep and wide enough to accommodate the entire root system without bending it. If roots are longer than 8 inches, trim them when transplanting. Most importantly, don’t plant too deep! The roots should be covered, but the crown should be right at the soil surface.

Firm the soil about the plants and water them in. If you can lift the plants with a quick jerk on a leaf, the soil is too loose, and the roots may dry out.

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In the first year, pick off blossoms to discourage strawberry plants from fruiting. If not allowed to bear fruit, they will spend their food reserves on developing healthy roots, and the yields will be much greater in following years.

Managing Runners

As the plants grow, you want to keep the beds from becoming overcrowded, which can reduce yield while encouraging disease and pest habitat. Managing runners and the “daughter plants” are the principal means way for keeping your strawberry bed healthy and fruitful year after year. Furthermore, first and second generation plants produce the highest yields!

Because strawberry plants produce an excess of daughter plants, prune extra runners and old plants every season after the last harvest:

  • If you have the spaced row system, leave only four daughter plants evenly spaced (about 10 inches apart). New daughter plants produce the best fruit the following spring if planted early in the spring, and each plant has at least ten leaves by autumn. When new plants are established, remove the old ones (three years and older).
  • If you have a matted system, pull any weeds, trim rouge runners, and cut all strawberry plants down to 2” above grade. Don’t worry, the plants will bounce back over the rest of the summer!

Best Practices for a Fruitful Harvest

  • Moisture is incredibly important due to shallow roots, and strawberry plants need a lot of water when the runners and flowers are developing. Water adequately, about one inch per week.
  • Keep the beds mulched to reduce water needs and weed invasion.
  • Be diligent about weeding, especially in the first months after planting.
  • Pest and Disease Control: Often we don’t realize that a lush strawberry forest creates a cool and damp environment perfect for slugs and other pests, including rodents. Keep your strawberries thinned and healthy will minimize pests and fungal problems.
  • Many berries are damaged by birds, especially robins. Excluding the birds with netting or row cover is most effective. Another method is to drive heavy (stronger than lath) stakes, four feet in length, into the ground at corners of the strawberry bed. Stretch twine between the stakes and attach streamers every five feet along the string to deter birds.
Netting strawberries is the most effective way to keep hungry birds out.
Netting strawberries is the most effective way to keep hungry birds out.

For more information, visit the Montana State Extension online resource on strawberries by clicking here or to the Old Farmers Almanac page on strawberries.

 

 

Cauliflower

Cauliflower: why I always ask for more (& 5 ways to sub it for carbs)

When I see cauliflower on my CSA’s chalkboard, I am filled with joy. It is one of those vegetables that does so much in place of a starch. Sub it for rice, pizza crust, mashed potatoes, tots (just heard about that one!). . . The list goes on. One of my favorite recipes is mashed cauliflower: a simple, elegant dish that my 16 year old niece always revisits for seconds.

Mashed cauliflower (or as we sometimes say, faux potatoes) can contain a basic three ingredients or get a bit more complicated (but not much. . .like add some garlic and Parmesan, or finish it with some truffle or rosemary salt).

Here’s what I did:

I had about two heads of cauliflower worth (they were smaller than that) of cheddar and regular cauliflower (just because that’s what I had). I chopped them up into flowerettes and put them in my large pot, with a steamer tray at the bottom. I poured in about a cup of water (enough to get a half inch of water in there) and steamed them until they were a little more than fork tender. You don’t want to over cook them, but you want them to be soft enough to mash well. Mine took about 10 minutes.

While they cook, if I have the oven going I might slip some garlic in to roast as well. And slip a few cloves of that in the food processor. Or saute some diced garlic.

Mashed Cauli

Once the cauliflower is cooked, take out your food processor (a hearty blender would probably work, too) and add the cauliflower to it. I had to do this in two or three shifts. I used a total of 1/3 cup olive oil, but poured some in each batch. And then a little extra at the end. . . Cause it’s so good. I added a 1/2 tsp of salt as well, distributed in each. And then another pinch at the end.

I let the food processor run for a good two to three minutes to really get the cauliflower into

a pureed mash.

And then I served it up.

You can use this to top a farmer’s/cottage/shepherd’s pie. You can serve it with steak. You can do so many things with this little side dish.

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2-1 tsp salt (I like Redmond Salt — localish, filled with minerals)

2 heads (or the equivalent) of cauliflower

HOW TO

1. Chop the cauliflower into flourettes. No need to be pretty about it, these will eventually be mashed. But don’t hack them so badly that much of the cauliflower turns to crumbs.

2. Steam in a large pot (you can boil them too). Takes about 10 minutes. Cook them well, until they are very fork tender.

3. In batches that work for your food processor, add the cauliflower, some of the olive oil, and some of the salt. Stick your finger in to see if you like the taste. Add more salt or oil if you don’t! Here is when you would add a clove or two of roasted garlic, some rosemary salt or just rosemary, or other herb combination. This is a very flexible recipe.

4. Process the ingredients for 1-3 minutes, until smooth.

5. Add some finishing salt if you feel like it (I really liked truffle salt, took away some of the cauliflower flavor).

Here are a few other ideas that will make this little, sometimes smelly, nondescript, unassuming veggie something that will get your blood pumping as well:

Featured image is by Mike Mozart.

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Jewell Case_goats

First Friday in the Garden!

Have you heard?! Next Friday (August 4th), we are teaming up with our garden partner, St. Patrick and Providence Hospital, to host a First Friday event in the garden!

The Providence Center Garden is a special aspect of the community garden program at Garden City Harvest. Each year, it is planted, tended and harvested by Community Garden Coordinators. The garden is intended for the use of patients, hospital staff, and  the community to enjoy and heal. Additionally, all of the food grown on site is donated to the Food Bank or sold as a part of the Prescription Veggie Program.

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At this special First Friday event, we’ll have garden fresh snacks, refreshments, an art installation, and live music by St. Pat’s own staff person, Walt Pedersen, and his band “Desiderada.” We want to bring the community together and celebrate the Providence Center Garden.  All are welcome!

Local artist, Jewell Case, will have her free-standing murals titled: “Addicted to Grandeur: A Retrospective of Wrangling on America’s Public Lands” placed throughout the garden. These vivid paintings depict  the landscapes and tradition of backcountry horsemanship in Alaska, the Grand Canyon, and Montana Wilderness. The opening will also include storytelling and interpretation of the history of Glacier National Park from a trail guide’s perspective.

Jewell Case_Guardian of the Desert

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FullSizeRender  Jewell explains, “I convey scenes which are memories and renditions of my explorations in the wilderness and public lands of the U.S.” Jewell has worked as trail crew, wrangler, horse packer and outfitter for the last seven years. Currently, she is a wrangler outside of Glacier National Park. Most of her paintings are made in one or two sittings along the trail and carried in her backpack with all other essentials of camping.

             jewell case_drawing              jewell case_wrangler

The Providence Garden is located at 902 N. Orange Street, behind the Providence Center. For more event details, check out the Facebook event here or contact Emily at Emily@gardencityharvest.org with any questions.

Hope to see you there!

 

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Northside Garlic Festival

Did you know that all community garden plots have community areas nestled within the individual garden plots? Each year, thanks to the gardens’ leadership committees and volunteers, the community plots are planted and tended with different crops. Most gardens have community raspberry patches, some have flowering perennials for pollinators, annual vegetables, and even a couple fruit trees!  Food grown in these community plots are either shared among all community gardeners at each site or donated to the Food Bank.

Last fall, the Northside Community Garden Leadership Committee and several volunteers planted about 1000 heads of garlic on the east edge of the garden. They planted it with the intention of harvesting and sharing the garlic with all Northside community gardeners.

After diligently hand-watering and tending to the 1000 garlic plants all spring and summer, the time came to harvest. When garlic is ready to harvest, it should be harvested as soon as possible. If garlic sits in the ground too long, the stalk will become too dry and brittle and thus difficult to harvest, hang and cure.

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Last Thursday, the Garlic Festival began. Fifteen volunteers came out, despite the heat, to pull the garlic heads. Young, old and every age in between was drawn to the frenzied fun that evening. Luckily, most of the garlic heads came out with a good ol’ yank, and the help of many hands made light work.

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In total, 860+ heads were harvested, bundled and carried away to hang in a volunteers’ barn for the week. The ideal temperature for garlic to cure is 80 degrees Fahrenheit over two weeks. (For more information about how to harvest and cure garlic heads check out the blog post links below. )

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No need to dust off your garlic just yet. Garlic can hang and cure as is.

This Friday, all the garlic will be brought out of the barn to be cleaned, inspected for any mold or bad cloves, sorted, and braided so it will keep well all winter long. Feel free to stop by the Northside Community Garden, this Friday, July 21st at 6pm, to learn how to clean and braid garlic.

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Happy garlic harvesters with more than enough garlic to share!

 

 

 

PEAS summer school students with GARLIC!

Here at Garden City Harvest, we love our garlic! For further reading on garlic, check out these other related Garden City Harvest posts:

Learn how to plant garlic here: Falling for Garlic

A Day at the Providence Hospital Garden: Harvesting Garlic – Part I

Warding off Vampires & Boosting Fertility: Harvesting Garlic – Part II

 

 

 

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Midnight Baking

For most, strawberry season in Missoula is coming to a close.  As I harvest the last of my strawberries from my June bearing strawberry patch, I am reminded of a recent midnight baking escapade with strawberry rhubarb scones. The scones were deliciously memorable. And as I watch the raspberry canes begin to droop bearing the weight of ripening fruit, I think this strawberry rhubarb scone recipe would translate easily to a raspberry scone recipe.

It all started a couple weeks ago with a craving for a baked good, a breakfast baked good to be exact.  However with the consistent 90-100 degree heat we’ve been experiencing in Missoula, the idea of baking is absolutely ridiculous. Regardless, I couldn’t get the idea of a delicious baked good with my morning coffee out of my head.

I waited until sun down and the temperature outside was cooler and comfortable. Flinging open all doors and windows in the house, I hesitantly fired up the oven to 425 degree and hastily started adding flour, sugar, salt and butter into a bowl. As the dough began to take shape, I could feel some of the heat slipping out of the oven and beads of sweat prickled on my forehead. I moved quicker, dropping ruby strawberries and chopped rhubarb into the sticky dough, then finally folding and forming the triangular scone shapes. Once in the oven, I stepped outside and sat on the porch. The birds were still whistling and trilling to each other in the trees as the last daylight faded. Only five minutes later the sweet smell of the scones wafted through the window, and another five minutes later I pulled the thick and fluffy scones out of the oven.

It was just about midnight when I finished cleaning up, so I crawled into bed. In the morning, I had strawberry rhubarb scones with my coffee and smiled.

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This recipe for strawberry rhubarb scones come from Heather Cristo.  I also encourage you to try it with raspberries instead of strawberries. Let me know how it goes and keep cool!

Recipe: Strawberry Rhubarb Scones

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 Tablespoons cold butter cut into pieces
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup rhubarb, cut into ½” slices
  • 1 cup strawberries sliced
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and prepare a sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt. Pulse it together.
  3. Add the cold butter and pulse until the butter has been cut into the flour and you have a coarse crumb.
  4. In a small bowl beat together the cream and the egg. Add it to the mixture and pulse until you have a dough that comes together but is still crumbly and wet.
  5. Dump the dough out onto a generously floured counter top and gently fold the fruit into the dough with your hands.
  6. Using the extra flour, pat the dough into a disc. Using a floured knife, cut the disc into 6-8 scones (depending on preference of size).
  7. Brush the tops of the scones with the remaining 2 tablespoons of whipping cream.
  8. Bake the scones for 10 minutes until slightly golden around the edges. Let the scones cool for a few minutes and firm up before removing them from the pan.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature with strawberry jam.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

A New Emily in the Gardens

Emily, the new Community Garden Outreach CoordinatorHello Gardeners!

I am the new Community Garden Outreach Coordinator. You might have seen me digging in my garden at the Northside or ASUM Community Gardens, teaching a compost workshop or helping out with Opening Day on the ASUM Garden Leadership Committee. I have been gardening with the Community Gardens for the last three years, and I look forward to working with you and for you in this new role at Garden City Harvest.

Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, I earned a degree in landscape architecture from Colorado State University before discovering the wilds and wonders of Montana. My love of plants and sense of adventure has provided me with a variety of professional experiences around the West, including wilderness trip-leading, ecology research, farming, permaculture and landscape design. I spend my spare time hiking up mountains, tending to my chickens, experimenting with new plants and new foods, and water-coloring.

I will also continue to cultivate my plot at the ASUM Community Gardens this year. Like all of you, I will be battling the same weeds and pests while juggling the needs of a tomato plant with the needs of my job, my partner and other life pursuits. I try to keep in mind the sage words of a fellow ASUM gardener: “If it’s not fun, then why are we doing it?” Although keeping up with bindweed isn’t exactly fun, I believe there are plenty of things to appreciate, celebrate and share when it comes to community gardening.  Keep your eye out for my weekly Community Garden blog posts this season as I share tips and tricks, gardener spotlights, events, recipes and creative ideas to fill our gardens and minds.

See you in the garden!

University buildings at the base of Mount Sentinel as seen from Mount Jumbo. Hughes Gardens are in the foreground. Missoula, Montana, 1901. Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.

“Putting the Gardens Back in the Garden City”

In my first blog post as the Community Gardens Outreach Coordinator, I wrote a “ramble” on the connection between historic preservation and community gardening, titled The Solace of Shared Place. On March 16th, 2016, a mere 30 days after I began working for Garden City Harvest, I waxed poetic in the concluding paragraph of that first post;

Community gardening builds community through agriculture and shared place. Historic preservation builds community through shared meaning. Both facilitate the observer, visitor, gardener, to cultivate their own sense-of-place. Both tie cultural landscapes together. As anew member of the Garden City Harvest team, my past in historic preservation has lent me an appreciation of the local place and a specific lens in which to view our mission. Yet, this organization has taught me more – – GCH has taught me the many other ways of building community, and most importantly, it has cemented my belief in the solace of shared place. Whether a green garden or a defunct industrial ruin, both serve as reminders of community, and undergirds the process of place-based progress. Both bring us all together.

Little did I know when rambling 15 months ago that the notion of historic preservation would become such a vanguard within the Garden City’s communal conversation.  Even less did I know that co-coordinating Community Gardens would lead me directly back into the world of building community through historic places, and that the lessons I learned while sowing seeds with my fellow community members would prove my previous romantically concocted notion, that a special union exists between old places, green places and shared places, to be inextricably true. That when value is cross-pollinated amongst these places, the collective strength of a community thrives: historic preservation and community gardening both serve to construct place through interaction with our local landscapes.

Which brings me to this: My last day as the Garden City Harvest Community Gardens Outreach Coordinator is today. In cyclical fashion, I accepted a position with our local government working to maintain Missoula’s historic fabric. The work will be different, but I can now say for fact that the mission is the same. I thank Garden City Harvest for:

  • Proving that the local is paramount in all aspects of building community
  • Illuminating the subtle nuances that make Missoula special, narrating our collective story, fueling the fire for which we choose to protect this city, progress this city, and respect this city.

Thank you Garden City Harvest for not only building community, but for believing in and celebrating this very special place we live in.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So! As my fond farewell, here’s a quick history lesson in celebrating the union of local history and community gardening:

Why is the Garden City named the Garden City, after all?

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Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.

Here’s why: because Missoula is so goshdarn dreamy that’s why. No, just kidding, not really, but no.

Much debate surrounds the origin of the Garden City. Some say it was termed due to our relatively mild climate compared to the rest of the state, and thus its delightful environs for habitation. Some say that Missoula became the Garden City as it was known across the region for its boulevards with mature trees and purposely landscaped median lanes – a practice we’ve lost with the onset of traffic, but one which will hopefully make its way back to the Garden City. Others say that it’s due to the fertile Bitterroot Valley, and the quick, widespread and easy settlement of farming.

Missoula, Montana and the northern portion of The University of Montana campus from Mount Sentinel. The Power Plant, Prescott house and garden is visible at the base of Mount Sentinel, 1922. Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library
Missoula, Montana and the northern portion of The University of Montana campus from Mount Sentinel. The Power Plant, Prescott house and garden is visible at the base of Mount Sentinel, 1922. Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.

Although this area was originally named “Nemissoolatakoo,” a Salish word from which Missoula is derived, our charming slogan commenced, like the majority of development in the American West, after the Northern Pacific Railroad laid ties along the Clark Fork in 1883.[1] With it came the usual flurry of development; city infrastructure, trading, industry and of course, farming. What sets Missoula apart from growth in other western towns is the succession from traditional style farming, with sprawled fields located outside the urban core, to subdivided and incorporated farming communities located within the Missoula urban core. The planned incorporation of “rural” living spaces, platted and added as a city addition, articulated farming and gardening as a major character defining trait of the community.

In the late 1800s, farmers and developers alike realized that Missoula’s soils were, despite the short growing season, especially conducive to growing, as Missoula quickly became the main supplier of farmed goods to lumber and mining towns across the region. As Missoula expended across the Clark Fork and to the south, land owners sought the opportunity in developing Missoula’s first intentional community. Orchard Homes was subdivided along the south bank of the river and marketed with the sole purpose of family farming and gardening.

In 1900, Samuel Dinsmore and R.M. Cobbin purchased 640 acres near present day 3rd Street and Reserve for $1.25 per acre. They subdivided the area into properties of about five to ten acres in size, which initiated the development of “gentlemen farms,” or “farmettes.”[2]  Shortly thereafter, an irrigation ditch was built and the land in the new Orchard Homes area was sold for $100 to $300 per acre. In total, 300 irrigated 5-10 acre tracts were individually farmed and cultivated between the turn of the century and the 1980s, when newer development and single and multi-family homes began to fill in the once open landscape. [3]

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Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.

The establishment of gentlemen farming was growing on a national scale as well. With the advancement of urban infrastructure and industry came concern for traditional farmer welfare. Eight years after Dinsmore and Cobbin subdivided Orchard Homes, and four years after the irrigation ditch was added, President Teddy Roosevelt established the Country Life Commission, or, the Rural West Initiative. As Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West states,

President Teddy Roosevelt believed that rural America was the ‘backbone of our nation’s efficiency,’ but that rural life risked being left behind in the modern America emerging in the first decade of the 20th century. In 1908, he formed a Commission on Country Life, headed up by Liberty Hyde Bailey, to investigate ways of making country life more attractive. The 1909 Report of the Country Life Commission highlighted a list of “deficiencies” in rural life that were prompting people to leave the country for the city, but had few concrete recommendations for remedying the situation. One hundred years later, just about all of those “deficiencies” still plague rural America, and people are still leaving country for the city. Despite its apparent lack of results, however, the Report remains a landmark for the attention it brought to issues of country life, and it remains an inspiration for our Rural West Initiative.[4]

Although the Country Life Report may have failed in enacting change in other locales around the country, Missoula took it in stride, and even exemplified remedies that the report otherwise fell short in advancing. In 1911, following the Country Life Report, and in conjunction with the success of Missoula’s farmettes, the ladies and gentlemen farmers enacted the Orchard Homes Country Club, “with the purposes of providing a community center, mutual welfare, and a better rural environment for its members.” [5]  Members of the club were able to volunteer as local firefighters, advocate for Women’s Suffrage, and generally promote civil and community service on a local level.

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Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.
Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.
Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.
Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.

In addition to gentlemen farming, rural advocacy and providing goods to the region, the Bitterroot was on the forefront of agricultural showmanship with the advent of the McIntosh Red Apple. The McIntosh helped the area develop a wider scale of export and recognition – but I’m getting a little off point, read more about our historical relationship with the McIntosh Red here!

University buildings at the base of Mount Sentinel as seen from Mount Jumbo. Hughes Gardens are in the foreground. Missoula, Montana, 1901. Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.
University buildings at the base of Mount Sentinel as seen from Mount Jumbo. Hughes Gardens are in the foreground. Missoula, Montana, 1901. Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.

The Orchard Homes farmette concept proved successful in the years following development. In 1904, four years after Orchard Homes was subdivided, the Northern Pacific Railroad flaunts this success in a report entitled, Irrigation in Montana:

“Missoula is at the head of the Bitter Root Valley, long celebrated for its fertility, and for its possi­bilities in the way of horticulture. Bitter Root Valley apples have long been famous, and it is expected that this year there will be over 200,000 boxes or bushels of apples shipped from this valley to the eastern market.

Plans are now under way for the construction of irri­gation ditches in this valley, which will put water upon 70,000 acres of land, and, with the completion of these projects, it is needless to say that this valley will soon be one of the most populous and prosperous in the west. What has been accomplished by those -who have settled in the vicinity of Missoula may be seen from the following statements:

Missoula, Mont., Oct. 9, 1901.

Dear Sir.—I have just harvested the last of my Orchard Home crop. Had you told me a little over a year ago, when I made my purchase of ten acres, that I would realize in dollars and cents the amount which I have this year, I would not have believed you.

My crop and profits this season have been enormous; I will clear over $1,000 on seven and one-half acres, two acres of cabbage alone bringing me $400. I know of no land anywhere that is so admir­ably suited to the raising of fruit and vegetables as that obtain­able in the “Orchard Homes.” I am more than satisfied with my investment and know of nothing which brings the return on the money invested which an Orchard Home tract will bring a man who will tend it properly.

I will freely give the result of my experience and success to anyone who will call on me or write me, feeling in so doing that I will be conferring a lasting benefit on him if I can interest him as I have been interested myself.

-H.G. DAVIS.

To: Samuel Dinsmore. Missoula, Mont., Oct. 8. 1903.

Dear Sir. I do not believe that there is a property owner in the Orchard Homes who can so freely and justly express his views regarding the fertility and productiveness of the soil as the under­signed….

M.A. ROBINSON.”[6]

And so forth and so on.

Thus became the Garden City forevermore.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yesterday, Garden City Harvest unveiled the public phase of building its new farmstead with an official press conference. The farmstead is located at the River Road farm, and will include a new farmhouse style office and community barn space. More specifically, the new home of Garden City Harvest, whose motto once stated, “putting the gardens back in the garden city,” is located on one of the original tracts of land platted within Dinsmore and Cobbin’s historic Orchard Homes. Although the majority of parcels within this plat addition have been further subdivided and developed into single and multi-family homes since the 1970s, the River Road Farmstead will now serve as a vestige, harkening to a time when the land was devoted to farming, the very land which constructed the identity of Missoula as we know it. Garden City Harvest is now joining our forefathers who sowed the same land, those advocates for the rural west, apple farmers who put the Bitterroot region on the map, and initial community builders through agriculture, over 100 years ago.

What a pleasure it has been,

Emy, Former Community Gardens Outreach Coordinator

P.S. – Check out the Montana Memory Project for more historic photos and documents about Missoula!


 

[1] Make it Missoula, “History of Missoula, MT,” Make it Missoula, last modified 2017, accessed May 10, 2017, http://www.makeitmissoula.com/community/history-of-missoula/.

[2] Stan Cohen, Missoula County Images II (Missoula, MT: Pictorial Histories Publishing, 1993), [16].

[3] “Orchard Homes Country Life Club Records, 1906-1994.” Archives West, last modified 2011, accessed February 29, 2016, http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv94555.

[4] Stanford University, “Teddy Roosevelt’s Country Life Commission,” Rural West Initiative – Bill Lane Center for the American West, last modified 2012, accessed May 10, 2017, http://web.stanford.edu/group/ruralwest/cgi-bin/drupal/content/country-life-commission.

[5] “Orchard Homes Country Life Club Records, 1906-1994.”

[6] Irrigation in Montana (n.p.: Northern Pacific Railway Company, 1904), [21].

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April Showers Bring May Flowers…

Welcome back new and returning gardeners! 

We’re two weeks in, after faring an especially chilly Opening Day.  Missoulian gardeners are tough cookies, they took the cold winds in stride, showing up smiling and ready to dig into the season (no pun intended ;). Take a gander at your hardy selves below, and pat your backs on a such a successful start!

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Kelly finds surprises from last season in her plot at Milwaukee Trail.
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The crew is all smiles at Milwaukee Trail.
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Maria holding down the fort at Meadow Hill.
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The lovely ladies of the Milwaukee Trail Leadership.
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Amy and Maria warm up by the fire at Meadow Hill, lucky ducks.
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Leadership Committee Member, Emily Kern’s mother helps get things started at ASUM.
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ASUM, with 70 plots, is the second largest garden of the troop, making Opening Day an especially social event.
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New gardeners, new smiles at ASUM.
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This pic of Northside Leaders Brian and Joe definitely wasn’t staged  ;)
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Returning gardeners know the drill at ASUM.
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A rare moment of sunshine see these returning gardeners off at ASUM.

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New gardeners dig in at the Northside.

Whether you’re a new or returning gardener, it can be challenging to get back in the swing of things, especially after the distressingly long winter we’ve endured. But fear not, we’re here to help. Attend the Gardening 101 & Planning Workshop tomorrow, from 6:00 – 7:30, led by gardening-extraordinaire Patrick (our Community Garden Operations Coordinator)! Patrick will cover the basics, leaving you feeling ready and confident to dig in. The workshop will be held at the Providence St. Patrick Hospital healing garden, located at 902 N Orange St behind the Providence Surgery Center (Here’s a map).

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P.S. – it’s free! We hope to see you all there!

Also, check out these other gardening opportunities throughout the season. Keep checking the blog, our Facebook page and website, as well as your email and garden blackboards for additional events.

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And remember, April showers bring May flowers…  and besides, what’s better than a nice shower followed by a bask in the sun, all in the same hour?

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Head Starts With Starts

Patrick, the Community Gardens Operations Coordinator,  grew up in Wisconsin, and from day one wanted to be outside whenever possible. While earning his degree from the University of Montana, Patrick enrolled in the PEAS Farm class, and couldn’t give it up – staying for two semesters and a summer session. Through the PEAS Farm and his Environmental Studies Program classes, he’s decided he wants to keep working on local food efforts now that he has earned his degree. When he’s not digging in the dirt, he is hiking, biking or fishing with his dog, Lola.


With spring officially just around the corner, many of our garden crops will be getting off to an early start.  With our cold and lengthy winters in Montana, several crops that we love to grow and eat need to get a jump on the season.  Farmers, nurseries, and gardeners around the area are getting busy seeding and tending to our favorite plants.

Patrick 3While it gets nice and hot in Missoula, our nighttime temps in the late spring and early fall allow us a mere 120 frost-free growing days, on average.   Many of our favorite plants are capable of braving the cold, so we may choose to focus on these crops.   However, many others will wither away at the first sign of frost.  Extending our seasons by starting some of our plants in controlled environments like greenhouses, allows us to grow many crops that we otherwise simply couldn’t produce in our climate.  Others we can simply direct seed into the ground and will do great with our natural climate.

 

Early Start Recommended

Tomatoes                       Peppers

Onions                            Cabbage

Squash                           Cucumbers

Broccoli                         And More!

Can be Direct Seeded

Carrots                          Beets

Peas                               Radishes

Corn                              Most Greens

And More!

It is certainly possible to grow starts in our houses, utilizing sunny areas or even supplying supplemental lighting.  However, starting seeds at home can be surprisingly tricky. Tending to watering needs can be time consuming, and often our home starts don’t receive the adequate amount of light to sustain proper growth.  This often results in lanky, stunted, or otherwise stressed plants.  We want our starts to be as healthy and vigorous as possible when we plant them out. The process of leaving their comfortable, pampered lives in their climate controlled homes will be stressful enough; we want them to hit the ground strong.

Patrick 1Most homes are not designed with plant growth as their primary function, and most people’s days are already busy enough as it is.  For this reason, many gardeners decide to leave the starts to the professionals.  Greenhouses are designed for the sole purpose of promoting plant growth, and are maintained by folks who dedicate their days to ensuring successful starts.  Farmers markets and nurseries are great spots to look for strong and healthy starts to grow.  They are also great places to make sure you are picking the right varieties for your needs and wants.

But! If you want to hit the ground running and start those starts early yourself, it can be an incredibly fun and rewarding process.  There are a few things we need to consider when starting seeds at home.  We need to choose the right varieties for our climate and preferences; sauce tomatoes vs. slicing tomatoes, for example.  We need to sow the seeds indoors and re-pot if necessary at the proper planting time; we want them to have a good head start while not outgrowing their containers and becoming stressed. We want to let them “harden off” before transplanting to reduce shock by moving them into a cooler and less controlled environment.  This can be done using cold frames or floating row cover. (Both of these can be used to extend the season for bedded plants as well).  Lastly, we want to make sure that the beds and weather are suitable for the plants before we transplant them outdoors.  Check out the links below for some more information!

Garden “Calculator”

Helpful Hints

Cold Frame