Victory Garden in West Hartford - We-Ha

Victory Backyard in West Hartford – We-Ha

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Resident Blythe Kaufman grows most of her personal greens, and has launched a weblog and YouTube channel to share her expertise and encourage others.

Bounty from the Kaufman’s gardens in 2021. Courtesy of Blythe Kaufman

By Ronni Newton

Blythe Kaufman lives in a traditional West Hartford colonial, on a typical quarter-acre lot on 4 Mile Highway. That’s the place – in “Our Girl’s Victory Backyard” – she grows a majority of the greens her household of 5 eats in the course of the spring, summer time, and fall, and a few of the fruits, too.

“We actually attempt to get as a lot as we are able to out of our yard,” stated Kaufman, and he or she desires to encourage others to plant their very own Victory Gardens.

On a tour of her yard, early within the rising season, Kaufman factors out the Honeycrisp apple tree, the vegetation that may yield blueberries, elderberries, and currants. “We have now nearly each sort of berry bush,” she stated.

Elderberry bushes develop alongside the entrance walkway of Blythe Kaufman’s 4 Mile Highway dwelling. Picture credit score: Ronni Newton

Kaufman and her husband, Seth, have lived on 4 Mile Highway for 17 years, and one of many issues that drew her to the home was the present greenhouse. She grew up outdoors Boston, and whereas that wasn’t precisely a rural upbringing, her mom was an avid gardener and a few of her earliest and finest reminiscences are of gardening along with her mother – who liked watching “Crockett’s Victory Backyard” on WGBY.

Kaufman educated as an endodontist, however developed a uncommon dysfunction when pregnant along with her youngest son which impacted her joints. Her palms stay weak, and he or she doesn’t drive. When her youngsters (now between the ages of 15 and 21) had been younger, she taught them to be her palms within the garden.

Sharing her gardening is a strategy to carry the neighborhood alongside on her household’s Victory Backyard journey, Kaufman stated.

“With meals costs on the rise, it appears an ideal time for folks to place within the traditional Victory Backyard which first appeared to get its title throughout WWII however then noticed a revival within the late 70s when inflation was surging,” she stated.

Potato salad Blythe Kaufman created from the spring potatoes harvested from the greenhouse – a combination of purple potatoes and banana fingerling potatoes. Picture courtesy of Blythe Kaufman

“It appears such an endeavor could also be wanted with industrial farmers straining to fulfill their wants with shortages of fertilizers. {Many professional} farmers have reported they are going to merely unfold much less fertilizer this yr and therefore may have much less harvest. House gardeners benefit from utilizing kitchen natural scraps to amend the soil and fewer fertilizers are wanted so we who stay on small quarter-acre plots could make a giant distinction by rising even a portion of what we would usually purchase on the retailer.”

As non-edible plantings in her yard die off, Kaufman replaces them with vegetation that yield meals. Elderberry bushes develop alongside the entrance stroll, and bunch onions within the planters close to the entrance door can be changed with candy potatoes. She has pear bushes together with apple bushes.

Blythe Kaufman reveals off the bunch onions that had been rising within the planters outdoors her entrance door. Picture credit score: Ronni Newton

Within the spring Kaufman harvested potatoes that she began rising in December within the greenhouse. Earlier than the climate was prepared for out of doors planting, tomatoes, oregano, and bay leaf had been among the many vegetation already thriving within the greenhouse, whereas an enclosure in her yard had peas, onions, beets, and leeks rising, shielded from squirrels that prefer to dig early within the season, in addition to bunnies that may eat the vegetation.

The enclosure has wire mesh on the edges that goes 18 inches down into the bottom to maintain out pests that prefer to dig, and a internet on high. There’s gardening material on the bottom to maintain out weeds, and waist-high raised beds and a drip irrigation system that hold her from having to bend over.

An enclosure within the Kaufman’s yard retains pests at bay. Picture credit score: Ronni Newton

The stone mattress on the facet of her home can be at waist peak and simpler to have a tendency, plus it has nice drainage, Kaufman stated. “Most issues will do very properly I in there with out quite a lot of work.”

Every part is planted from seed, which she stated tends to create heartier vegetation, and a few of her vegetation are additionally “volunteers,” taking root and rising the place seeds dropped naturally the earlier yr have fallen.

She practices succession planting, rotating her crops all through the rising season, and from year-to-year.

It could seem formidable to plant that first garden, and lots of learners make errors. She’s made them, too, and shares successes and failures on the web site and in movies. To Kaufman, the efforts to develop her personal meals are worthwhile.

“I simply really feel higher about having one thing rising proper outdoors my door.”

Utilizing natural matter is essential, stated Kaufman, who makes use of little or no industrial fertilizer aside from for root crops. She makes use of kitchen scraps, hay, and different natural materials, and strategically combines plantings. Garlic vegetation hold away the chipmunks, she stated, and radishes hold the pests away from the cucumbers.

An enclosure within the Kaufman’s yard retains pests at bay. Picture credit score: Ronni Newton

As soon as the garlic – which was planted within the fall and is rising robustly – is completed for the season, she’ll plant tomatoes for a late harvest, the place they are going to yield fruit by way of late September into early October.

Objects planted within the spring included Swiss Chard, spinach, lettuce, beets, leeks, shallots, Spanish yellow onions, crimson onions, parsley, celery, kale, radishes, snow peas, sugar snap peas, scallions, and potatoes (for fall harvest).

Many vegetation are began within the greenhouse, the place the ambiance is a number of USDA rising seasons forward of the outside. Picture credit score: Ronni Newton

In mid Might, the extra tender crops that had been began from seed and had been rising within the greenhouse – the place the ambiance is a number of USDA rising zones forward of the outside – had been able to be moved outdoors. These embrace tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and basil. Cucumber, inexperienced beans, summer time and winter squash, sunflowers, and candy potatoes had been all planted, as seeds, instantly within the garden in Might.

Kaufman stated nobody in her instant household is vegan, however they do like greens, and in the course of the rising season the garden produces not less than 80% of the recent produce they eat. “Final yr we froze tomato sauce, and soups made with Swiss chard,” she stated. “We had a packed freezer.”

Blythe Kaufman factors to a few of the fruit bushes rising in entrance of her 4 Mile Highway dwelling. Picture credit score: Ronni Newton

The apple and pear bushes yield fruit, too.

“The Honeycrisps are nice. We made pies, applesauce, apple crisp into late October,” she stated.

The berries are eaten uncooked, in addition to blended into smoothies.

This yr she’s planning on doing extra pickling and canning. She’s additionally rising sprouts on her kitchen counter, and just lately began rising microgreens after attending a workshop.

“There’s simply one thing in regards to the simplicity of life, of seeing the place your meals comes from, that’s peaceable and calming.” Within the winter she enjoys planning her garden and it’s a great reminder that higher climate is forward.

In the course of the pandemic, Kaufman stated her household tried quite a lot of new recipes – soups, and rhubarb pie amongst them. “It’s a vibrant gentle, to have these reminiscences from the pandemic,” she stated.

Gardening is one thing that transcends the generations, Kaufman stated. She shares gardening tips with a younger household subsequent door … and he or she is keen to share her information with others.

“It’s very nice for constructing neighborhood and neighborhood spirit,” stated Kaufman.

There are such a lot of points that divide folks, however gardening can carry folks collectively. “It’s exhausting to seek out somebody that may’t rally round it.”

Extra details about Our Girl’s Victory Backyard, together with the hyperlink to the YouTube channel, may be discovered at

Sprouts develop – with minimal effort – on the Kaufman’s kitchen counter. Picture credit score: Ronni Newton

Quite a lot of raised beds make it simpler to achieve the vegetation, and in addition assist hold pests away. Picture credit score: Ronni Newton

Blythe Kaufman begins all of her greens from seed, early within the season. Courtesy of Blythe Kaufman

Raised beds and a drip system are useful to Blythe Kaufman, who has bother bending over to garden. Picture credit score: Ronni Newton

Potatoes develop in whiskey barrels within the yard. Picture credit score: Ronni Newton

A model of this story initially appeared within the June 2022 difficulty of West Hartford LIFE.

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