Sunday, July 11, 2010

Farm Together Now: Spring Letter from Joe at Mountain Garden

Joe Hollis walking through his wasabi patch, high on an Appalachian mountain in Burnsville, North Carolina

Hi Anne,

I'm glad to hear from you. Daniel has alerted me to the book's progress, and I am very much looking forward to seeing it. I looked through the new website and noticed the back-to-back 'gorgeous book' comments. I love the photos you sent of me and Steve and am eager to see what else you've chosen.
There is quite a lot going on here, very productive year so far. Six apprentices plus usually a WWOOFer or two. Best group of apprentices ever. We've got a large food garden planted and moving along with Chinese herb and native wildfood projects. The big excitement at the moment is wasabi: after about 20 years, starting with one plant, I now have about fifty large flowering specimens and a thousand seedlings, and I'm about to launch a wasabi industry in the area. The greenhouses, coldframes and many spots in garden are filled with a beautiful violet-magenta mustard from China which I randomly acquired years ago. The flowers are big and bright and tasty, as are the greens; and this year I'm trying to grow a really big crop of seeds. I think this plant will be in every seed catalog in five years. The apprentices have about finished a new Steve dome, and one is set to move in - he's a mushroom man, so we're growing mushrooms of many kinds all over the place.
This is looking like the year in which many projects which I've been working on for 15-20 years are coming to bearing fruit, and the book will be a big part of the overall Mountain Gardens project coming to fruition.
And it has been the best spring in my memory for the plants: some close shaves, but no killing freezes. Plants I established 25 years ago are going to bear fruit for the first time. I'll write about all this and attach pictures for your blog (and mine) as soon as the spring rush subsides.


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