As I mentioned in the past, I am a part of the Gardens Across America project. We are about growing out rare and unique seeds. To spread the word about the project I am contacting and interviewing many of it’s participants. The next up is Brian who runs the website Never Enough Dirt. Brian lives in Southern California. Below you will find my interview with him about the project and some photos from his garden. The photos represent the gardening methods that Brian practices or in the process of exploring. They range from traditional raised planters to permaculture practices like: hugelbeds, polyculture, etc.
1. How did you first hear about Gardens Across America?
Some of my hobbies include both collecting and growing rare plants from seed. Another hobby of mine is cooking regional and cultural cuisines. Seeking out as much authenticity as possible through harvesting traditionally used varieties and rare plants lead me to learn more about heirloom plants. Which lead me to Baker Creek Rare Seeds. From there, I heard about GAA through Baker Creek Rare Seeds.
2. Why do you think this project is important?
This project is important for a number of reasons. The reason I would like to focus on is awareness. I feel it is important that we learn more about what varieties of produce we are consuming. For instance, when the typical shopper goes out to buy corn, he is probably not wondering about what variety of corn is being sold to him. He probably does not even know that there are many varieties and that each variety has unique characteristics.
This lack of awareness keeps many of us from discovering that there are unknown and lost varieties of produce to consume. The kicker is that some of the heirloom / non-commercially-viable varieties are probably leaps and bounds better in the tasty and sweetness category over market produce. So if people do not know what is possible or available, they do not know to seek it out.
3. What seed variety are you most excited about?
This year, watermelon. For some reason watermelon was one of those crops that seemed like an intimidating thing to grow. Maybe it is the size of the melons that I see at the store, the perceived amount of room needed to grow them, and maybe the lack of sweetness consistency from store watermelon to watermelon. When I came across the heirloom ‘Sugar Baby’ variety a couple of years ago, I gave it a go. Since they grow to the size of a giant softball, they did not seem very intimidating. I felt that I could grow them successfully without needing to follow special fertilizing regiments. With the success from producing those watermelons, I am excited to try other varieties.
4. What do you think your biggest challenges are going to be?
One of the biggest challenges will be to making sure that I do not have cross pollination with the varieties that I am growing for GAA and kitchen. As I am waiting for the seeds to germinate, I am thinking about ways to mitigate cross pollination. I may have to hand pollinate and cover the blossoms with a paper bag— if that works.
Just as I am, Brian is passionate about educating people to the variety that is out there. Grocery store only offer a very limited selection. Many people don’t even realize that there are different varieties of produce of even simple things like green beans, corn, broccoli, etc. Gardening gives us a chance to experience new flavors, new colors, new tastes that our grocery store experience can never provide.
Brian also understands that importance of purity in seed. Where things like beans and peas are easy to harvest the seed. When you have something like a watermelon that can easily cross pollinate you have to take special precautions. I admire Brian for taking up the challenge. I choose to only grow 1 type of squash family member so that I wouldn’t have to be as concerned with that. Hats off to Brian!