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Amy Grisak

Amy Grisak, HobbyFarms.com Contributor

Growing up in Ohio, freelance writer Amy Grisak thought the growing season was far too short. In retrospect, after more than 20 years of living in Montana, she looks at it as a veritable growing paradise. (Obviously, the nightmare of dealing with the Japanese beetles has faded from memory.) No matter where she lives, Amy learns something new about gardening, and she loves to share her successes as well as her epic failures with her readers.

A glutton for punishment, Amy owned and built Shady Side Herb Farm outside Glacier National Park where she created 220 raised beds out of stone because the soil was glacial till. Year by year, she added beds and grew thousands of herbs and flowers. She also learned how to deal with several feet of snow that held on late in the spring, elk browsing the garden and grizzlies licking the grill on her porch.

After reaching a certain level of gardening comfort on the west side of the mountains, she and her husband, Grant, moved to the prairie town of Great Falls on the sunny and breezy side. Now she’s adapting again to grow a monumental amount of vegetables, fruits and herbs despite gumbo soil, awful water and fierce winds. It’s a brand-new chapter in her gardening education. Amy’s the season-extending queen, planting things as early as possible in the spring and prolonging the garden well into the snowy months. Grafting tomatoes to encourage early and prolific production is one of her new experiments. She’s looking for almost anything to squeeze more time or a bigger harvest out of the garden.

Although they live on barely an acre, Amy and her husband, along with their two sons, cat, dog and horse, aim to feed themselves very well. Besides the gardens, they keep bees, have a small group of busy hens and are planting an orchard with hardy northern varieties that will survive the harsh Montana weather. Their freezer and pantry are filled with homegrown fruits and veggies, as well as venison and plenty of perch and pike. As she always says, "There’s nothing like looking at your plate of food, and realizing everything came from the land.”

When Amy moved to Great Falls she joined a group of like-minded folks called River City Harvest to start community gardens in the area. Starting with one 8000-square-foot garden, they now manage five gardens throughout the town. Amy teaches classes through the community gardens, as well as in various lecture and hands-on forums to encourage other gardeners to grow what they need despite challenging conditions.

Amy shares her experiences as a contributor to Hobby Farms, Hobby Farm Home, Urban Farm, UrbanFarmOnline.com, HobbyFarms.com and several titles of the Popular Kitchen series. You can follow her adventures on www.thebackyardbounty.com.

6 Ways To Plant Potatoes
There’s no one right way to plant a potato. Grow this garden favorite with one of these methods.

Brew Compost Tea in 5 Easy Steps
Bubble, bubble, toil and—no trouble! Compost tea is easy to make and will give your garden soil the boost it needs to grow a healthy crop this season.

Grow Heat-Loving Crops—Even In the North
Northern growers can also look forward to peppers, tomatoes and melons this summer by planning ahead and choosing varieties wisely.

How Free-Range Chickens Benefit Your Soil
Put away the rototiller and get more nutritious eggs by allowing your chickens to work in the garden.

How to Rehab Your Soil After a Flood
Clean up your land and get growing again as soon as possible with these five tips for dealing with flood damage.

Month-by-month Beekeeping
Two beekeepers walk you through a monthly schedule of easy-to-follow beekeeping tasks according to region.

9 Ways To Prepare Your Farm For Winter
Bitter cold temperatures, snow and ice can be harsh on your farm, but with a little planning up front, you can hunker down for winter with peace of mind.

6 Things Not to Do While Pressure Canning
Ensure the safety of your pressure-canned food by paying close attention to these often over-looked steps.

How to Make Sauerkraut
Turn to this simple fermentation tradition as a way to use up and preserve your cabbage harvest.

When Fermentation Goes Wrong
Use these tips and tricks to help your sauerkraut and other ferments from becoming soft, moldy or otherwise undesirable.



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