My NW Montana Garden

The first frost has come, at a typical time for Northwest Montana. In the throes of moving, we’ve clipped the last of our green tomatoes and pulled a  few prize parsnips. The rest has been composted and turned over for next year’s gardener. It was a special season.

We have a short but mighty growing season, something I was able to see with my own eyes and feel with my own hands this summer as I plunged myself into gardening as much as possible. I started my own little plot in the community garden down the street using seed from the annual seed swap. I hadn’t a clue what to plant, when to plant it, how to plant it, but I just went for it. I dropped whole packets of seeds where there should have been one, planted everything else way too close together, and planted some things too late. But even still, this was a year of beginners’ luck.

Every time I visited my little plot I saw growth. Sometimes I saw the evidence of pests but I paid them no mind. My plants were growing! A fond memory from early summer is a dinner date at our dear friends’ house where I contributed a salad made up entirely of things I’d grown. While we’d most certainly starve if only relying on my crops, that salad was intensely satisfying.

Every crop of the season was my ‘favorite,’ really. But the highlights for me were Tatsoi, purple carrots, PARSNIPS, and tons and tons of beautiful tomatoes. I have so many tomatillos it’s ridiculous. I’m  told roasting them makes the best chile verde sauce.

In the meanwhile, I spent time each week helping out at an organic farm in town. It became the highlight of each week. We seeded in early spring in the warm greenhouse then transplanted as the soil warmed. Then the process repeated, ensuring a consistent flow of crops all summer long. I made new friends and learned so much about the enormity of the work involved to feed us all. Thank your farmers. The culminating event of summer on the farm was the volunteer dinner the first week in September. We were spoiled with the most beautiful spread as we all sat down at one long table and reminisced about the summer we shared together.

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