Share Your Veggie Bounty
Harvest time is a big deal in Tom and Vickie Wick's vegetable garden in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Tom and Vickie have more than enough fresh produce from midsummer through fall, and they share the bounty with their families, friends, and others, including the local food bank. "We grow for some elderly neighbors who no longer garden," Vickie says. "They really enjoy it, and we do, too." Their garden brings hefting bushel baskets brimming wih just-picked tomatoes, peppers, green beans, onions, summer squash, and more. Each year, she and Tom grow hundreds of pumpkins of all sizes and give away most of them.
From season to season, a repurposed fishing cabin stationed at one end of their plot serves as a hub for garden activities. In early spring, the building holds wall-to-wall seedlings, in transition between their sowing in the house and their becoming garden-ready in the nearby greenhouse.Date Published: September 18, 2017Date Updated: September 18, 2017
Old Becomes New
The couple found the one-room cabin on Craigslist, and the garden house took shape as Tom and Vickie replaced the roof, windows, and door. "We had a lot of fun remodeling it," Tom says.
The garden house doubles as a "sugar shack" for the Wickses' annual maple syrup-making ritual. "With a 40 to 1 ratio of sap to syrup, there is a lot of vapor that has to exit the building," Tom says. So he created a cupola to fit on the roof and vent steam from the evaporator. The cupola also adds to the building's charm. A deck addition soon followed, as Tom and Vickie wanted to sit both outside and inside the building. Tom scored redwood beams salvaged from a 100-year-old beer vat for the deck floor.Date Published: September 18, 2017Date Updated: September 18, 2017
Back in the Garden...
Back in the garden, there are a few vegetables the Wickses do not plant. "The garden grows in size and produces more each year," Tom says, "which leaves plenty to go around." By mid-July, the Wickses start bringing baskets of beans, squash, tomatoes, and beets to the local food bank a couple of times a week. As the director of operations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota, Tom has initiated and promoted gardening programs for area youth. "The older we get, the more we enjoy the garden," he says. And others clearly enjoy the rewards of their hard work.Date Published: September 18, 2017Date Updated: September 18, 2017
Vickie digs potatoes from mid- to late summer. Varieties include Red La Soda, Superior (white), and Yukon gold. The plants signal the end of their growth by turning yellow and withering. During hot weather, spuds store best in the ground, but all varieties should be harvested before the ground freezes. Vickie says it's important to harvest potatoes correctly to prevent any damage.Date Published: September 18, 2017Date Updated: September 18, 2017
Step 1: Loosen Soil
Vickie suggests using a garden fork to loosen dry soil. Dig carefully along the perimeter of the planting areas to avoid spearing potatoes and damaging them.Date Published: September 18, 2017Date Updated: September 18, 2017
Step 2: Harvest Potatoes
Feel around in the loosened soil, and pull out any potatoes. Large, deep-growing tubers may need more prodding with a trowel to wiggle them loose. Remove excess soil by rubbing potatoes between your hands. Avoid rinsing potoes before storing them; added moisture can promote decay.Date Published: September 18, 2017Date Updated: September 18, 2017
Step 3: Cure Potatoes
Before storing, spread the spuds on a flat surface in a cool (60 to 75 degree F), dark, airy place for a week or two. Store spuds away from light to prevent them from turning green and developing toxic glycoalkaloids.Date Published: September 18, 2017Date Updated: September 18, 2017
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