Episode 90: Tom Lampman | Father, Dairy Processer, and Gardener Extraordinare | Calmar, Alberta, CA | Part 1


Tom Lampman is a father and gardener who I’ve been emailing and bugging to come on the show, and he’s busier then I am, and he patiently dealt with my technology problems today besides and so he is here to share his story of many successful gardening adventures!

Tell us a little about yourself. 

I can start with the long story, but that starts back in about the 1700s, so I’ll give you the short story. I grew up in Minnesota, come from a long line of German Protestant farmers. Grew up basically in a the house my dad  built in basically the sheep pasture of my grandfather’s farm, which really was his wife’s farm, he was a hired hand and she married him, that’s how i got located there.

Went to University, met a girl from Minneapolis, what can I say? We hit it off pretty good, but getting tired of the big city life. Minneapolis, where we went to the school, was a great place, lots of lakes and bike trails, and stuff like that, but it was an urban center, we like the country and being out in the sticks away from people. A buddy of mine said come on up to Winnipeg. We’d  go up and visit, and really liked the lakes and the woods. Then he said “How’d you like to work up here?” I said “What do you got?” He had a job, so things came to pass, and I took him up on the offer! We went up there unseen, untried, we said let’s give it a whirl, and never looked back after that, been up north, living in the sticks as close as we can get for all these years?!

All this time I’ve been thinking you were a native Canadian. Was it scary moving to Canada? Was it hard?

Where is Winnipeg? About straight north of Grand Forks. From Winnipeg, we were there for about 10 years,  working for a big dairy processing company. They moved me out to Alberta, out to Calmar.

I’m all confused, I was thinking you were on the coast.

Well, everybody’s from someplace.

Are you on the coast?

Probably straight north of where you are. 53rd paralell about 113th longitude!

Straight North Eureka, Billings, Lethbridge, Calgary, that area.

For some reason I thought you were on the west coast on the ocean?

Nah, it’s too expensive to live there.

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

I come from a long line of German Protestant farmers. My first memories, the first memories I have are of digging potatoes with my great grandfather. He was probably 90 years of age at the time we were out there digging potatoes. An old farmer who’d been farming for lots of years, who had retired in a post war house he bought after saving a little money over the years. He had a little garden in the backyard. He’d take his garbage and clippings and potato peelings and burry them in the backyard. I never thought anything of it at the time. Now were’ kind of back to that situation. I’m doing about the same thing now except I’ve got a big barrel, I keep all my compost in.


Several barrels as a matter of fact.

Tell us about that.

Up here we’re like the Texas of the north, oil patch is pretty big up here. Oil, Tar Sands and stuff. You get a lot of these old oil barrels, there’s plastic ones. Being pretty frugal I never throw anything away, I can always make a use for everything. So what I’ve done, I’ve taken these and cut the tops out and the bottoms out, drill a couple of 2” holes around the edges, and put all my stuff in there. Grass clippings, leaves, what have you. Then I water it down. I have 3 in a row, and I just keep transferring it every month  or 2 months, I got some of those red wiggler worms and I put those in there and it’s just amazing how fast those guys decompose organic waste. Just unreal! So that’s what I do, then I have another couple of big areas out back with some mesh, with grass clippings. I keep rotating it and flipping it, it’s a bit of work.

I’m looking at the picture you sent me, I’m picturing them sideways. but I ‘m looking at the pics you sent them. You cut the bottom out and they’re standing up. Are they hard to turn?

They can be, I just scoop it out at the top, and when they get half full I just wiggle the barrel, and theres a little pile there, and I just flip that into the next one. I don’t go to the gym but I use that pitch fork quite a bit!

I think we’re gonna do a Gardening Cross-fit program! Adam Pruett from last Monday’s episode 88  he talked about a contest! Kind of like an event and everyone would get together and we’d have a gardening cross-fit challenge. Who could throw the And Kelly Ware’s talked a lot about Gardening Cross-fit.

I got nothing to prove to anybody. I’ll leave the contest up to somebody stronger.

Yeah, well he’s just a young kid in college still!

What does organic gardening/earth friendly mean to you?

I guess where we live here. We live right in black soil country, we got some of the best soil in North America right here. We’re surrounded by big commercial farms, the neighbor next door on the next corner over, he farms about 5000 acres, the guy across the road does about 1000 acres. It’s pretty commercially industrial type agriculture around here. Everybody uses sprays. There’s Roundup ready this and roundup ready that, there’s fungicides, and foliar sprays. And it’s really expensive to do that! I look at all of the equipment, I look at all the costs, and being a frugal German, again I try to keep things inexpensive. If I can use stuff right around the acreage here, then that’s what I use. Why go out and by things if you can make it at home just as cheaply?

Now do you want to tell us about your family a little, because you have quite a few kids you feed?

We were gonna be the typical suburban family, you know w 2 kids. never struck us the right way, bought a little acreage, we put a mobile home on it, later on we’ll build a house, lived in the moble home for 17 years, we had  kids that came every 4 years, by the end we had 5 kids. We had the kids stacked up like cord wood in the mobile. We finally did built a 2 story garage and built the house. To make a long story short, wala! That’s where we are. Most of the kids are getting to that stage of life, where they left home. Mom and I looking at 450 lbs of potatoes and 15 squash, once you have a garden, you garden it, you grow stuff! I don’t want to sit there and mow grass all the time. Even the grass that I do have around here, I make that work for me as well. Normally here you get big rush of dandelions, in early spring, and what I normally do it let that go and what that does is that brings in the bees like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve got bumble bees, and honey bees, we get all types of pollinators around here! When they get to be about 10% white, then I go in and mow it and I mow it at the highest settings, and I take all those grass clippings go into the major piles, and water them down, and heats up, and we have old leaves from the previous years, and that stuff decomposes in about 2-3 weeks. Just beautiful stuff. Then so once the dandelions are mowed, I’ll mow it mabye once or twice during the summer, then the clover starts blooming, let that go till it’s about 50% bloom, and the bees will come in and work that over, when it’s just starting to shrivel up, then I’ll mow it again and that all goes in the compost pile as well. So I can have 6-7 cubic yards of compost when I do that, and it all eventually ends up in the garden!

Sometimes its amazing how fast compost can turn into black soil. It doesn’t take as long as some people think.

The important thing, whenever you use that compost never work it into your soil, the reason for that is it sucks nitrogen out of the ground really fast to break that down. All those critters, will use nitrogen up to build protein, that is usually the problem, when they dig their compost and it if it’s not 100% composted and aged, it will rob the soil of nitrogen, so what I do with my compost is I put it on top and let the rain, the showers wash any nutrients into the soil.

I think that’s what we do too. So maybe that’s why it works good like that.

I think if you look around on the internet, there’s a lot of gardening,  the trend is going that way, more and more people going to the no-till. I’ve watched my neighbors who talk about no-till, they rely on the sprays to do it, but they’re usually in there with a chisel plow getting it ready for seed. That’s always bugged me, why are they spending all that money on chemicals, and then there’s out there ripping the soil up, knocking the heck out of the worms, and the  micro-biological life thats in the soil. That’s when I got in with the organic farmers, why spend all that money on chemicals doesn’t seem to make sense to me, that’s where I’ve gotten to be with organic farming, why spend all that money, sitting on a million dollars  worth of equipment, the payments  and the fuel?It’s just not ecologically right. Nature does such a wonderful job of growing food for us. All you do is put a seed in the ground and it grows a lot of food for us. Why do you need all the chemicals and all that other stuff?

I hear those things about there’d be too many weeds. Like you said, it can;t be good on our food. If you’re spraying it on the apples or whatever you’re putting it on. It would be wroth it for that extra labor.

I look at ti from a financial. point, i said that to the neighbor.

you can look at it from a few different points

why spend that kind of money?

do you own this land? I own it, but I’m just a hired man. Im working for the chemical companies, I work for the bank. I’m a peasant, I know I’m a peasant, we’v always been peasant. It doesn’t change, someone always has your hand in your pocket.

Once you get attached, to the soil.

you have to sell your products to other people, and there’s always gonna be a speculator. jacking the price up of what you produce for someone else, the Middle man.

Unless you sell to farmers market. CSA shares etc? Directly to the consumer.

I’ve had a lot of people say that, Gee Tom with all that produce you should sell it! I’ve tried that a few times. I have this thing, IDK, maybe its that German Protestant background.  But to take a head of lettuce and get, a the toonie coin,  it’s a $2 coin. here I am exchanging something I took out of the ground, and they’re giving me this piece of metal back, i would sooner give it to the food bank, take it to church for the seniors,

I just put the sweat equity into it, I’m not expecting to get rich, I got the house paid off. Do I need a lot more? I don’t think so.  It’s just my personal opinion.

We’re not growing to sell CSA shares? To me I thought this year I thought how much are we gonna have to grow to make a living, and sell CSA shares. A lot of times  I have a little bit of this extra here and a little bit extra there, to drive to town, and then when I am gong to town, I’m in a rush and it’s not food pantry day, or whatever.

Who or what inspired you to start using organic techniques?

i go back to my earliest upbringings, in Minnesota, a hard wood forest. We had oak trees, and Walnuts and chestnuts. I guess my dad would complain that the chestnuts would get in there, power mower would fire those things around eh yard. I grew up where my great grandparents basically farmed in the middle of this area. After WWII started subdividing this land as the e soldiers were coming home. So I grew up around familiar haunts. apple trees, we still collected apples from. We never used any pesticides then, if it had a few worms then we didn’t eat it. There’s that joke, what’s worse then finding a worm in your apple? Finding half a worm.

What are you gonna do? That was my background.

My mom’s side, my great grandfather was german, first words i ever spoke were German. He was born 2 days after Lincoln was shot.that hows you how old,and what kind of  Generational divide there was between us. That’s what I knew, that’s what was in front of me. I try to do that with my grandkids they come out here, and run around the garden and it’s like an easter egg hunt, picking raspberries! or here we found some strawberries!

We need to get the kids out in the world and out into gardens, that’s where those first connections are made. If you don’t do it then, working the iPad or game boy doesn’t fit for me.

They can do that in the dark! There’s plenty of dark! When my grandkids come up they always have a blast want to pick the carrots or harvest the green beans or anything.

when you’re digging potatoes, my grandson, when I put the pitchfork under the ground his eyes pop out and to make that connection early in life. Kids today don’t even know where milk comes from, they think it comes from the store. there’s no connection with their food. Maybe I’m an old reactionary conservative?

No, I don’t think so at all.PattiArmbrister Last week I had an educator on. Patti Armbrister! in episode 86 She was like what? You don’t know where potatoes come from? You don’t know the grow in the ground? And then she was upset that they weren’t getting beef from local cows in the cafeteria when we have so many cows in Montana! So she got that changed.

I think we all want that it’s just trying to figurer out how to get there.

She went through some major battles

Kids in the schools whose parents are cattle farmers, and said we’ll donate the meat but that didn’t work either.

I think they had to change a little bit of their buying structure because it costs a lot to eat meat that is grown in Montana however ridiculous that is!

Gotta start small and think local,

it tastes better!

Strawberries! fresh out of the garden tastes so much better then ones trucked in from California!

How did you learn how to garden organically?

I think part of it is those early experiences, kind of through osmosis, I wonder if it isn’t a cultural and genetic thing? I come from a long line of farmers, and most of the people who settled north america. Had been farming all their lives, left Germany so they could find land in the new world, I can count on my hands and toes all the farmers in my family. So maybe there is a connection there.

I did actually buy Rodale’s basic book of organic gardening back in the 60’s, used to refer to that, living this far north always had to adjust to the climatic conditions up here, which can be brutal sometimes but you learn to live in your environment, tailor make your gardening to the environment. it’s important to know your environment and your geography to be successful.

Tell us about something that grew well this year.

Everything this year, had that early drought, one rain shower, managed to fill up about a dozen barrels, 50 gallon stored behind the garage That was just enough water to get most of my crops watered once, because they were starting to grow dormant, hit them with that water and really soaked the area

finally got some

in July

my pruning shears going like crazy just to cut stuff back.

gone into an emergency

Funny even the commercial farmers, emergency situation, agricultural aide, and then all of a sudden the rains came just at the perfect time

neighbor had a bumper crop of barley, broke a record, never grew as much barley as this year.

I have cucumbers I couldn’t give away enough cucumbers,

The neighbors said you should put them in a bag on someone’s step and ring the doorbell

Didn’t want to throw the stuff in the compost heap

Here comes Tom he has more potatoes and lettuce. I haven’t had to work for it, mother nature has put all on my plate, so why not share.

can only be charitable

had the best corn ever

Normally this far north you have to be really careful about where you put the corn in.

sprout seeds in a jarBut the rains came at just the right time. we had bumper crops

up until the middle of November.

when did you start harvesting?

bout that first week of August

normally it doesn’t get that hot and that corn just took off. Normally we were worried about it, because you’ve reread the old thing, knee high by the 4ht of July, we had ankle high by the fifteenth of June

by the 4th of July it just took off,

heat and sunlight makes a big difference

Living this far North, you get a lot more light

people don’t realize it,

In the morning it’s up around 4 am and sets around 11pm lots of extra light,

makes things sweeter. Producing a lot of sugars through the sunlight, lucky to have that extra light.

don’t get the heat,

this year we did to get the corn to ripen, but

the tomatoes didn’t get ripe, because we don’t have warm evenings.

some nights maybe 40-42º

need 50ºF temp at night, to get ripening of tomatoes.

I couldn’t get that back that fast.

I worked in the dairy industry for a good 40 years, you had to be able to go back and forth between liters and gallons, something you had to learn.

People don’t realize. When my parents came to visit, we didn’t realize how light it’s been. Because most nights they go to bed

I remember waiting for Mike to come in before dark and I didn’t want to cook dinner at 11:00

Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

This year, actually it was last year, I planted Jerusalem artichokes, those things are like a weed!

They’re from the aster family and they grow to about 8 feet tall, and make a bit of a tuber on the bottom, it’s kind of like a potato, not that big, a bit of a nutty flavor, a lot of work to peel them and get them ready to eat, but once you get them growing in your garden, watch out

they keep coming up

if you’re going to grow them, make sure it’s away from the

The other thing is asparagus, make sure that you plant it in one place, if you ever have to move one of those things… backhoe or dynamite because those roots go down to China.

if you are gonna grow it or give some away make sure you grow in a spot that is gonna be a perennial bed!

whether you get the abundance of a like an asparagus plant. We love it in the spring. We eat it and then it goes to seed

doesn’t produce on a per acre tonnage

you don’t get a huge volume of strawberries, we did this year, but

what your garden is going to be, what you put in that area.

Use you’re head and do some planning

That’s been my biggest lesson, I need to plan more. Think about what seeds I’m gonna buy,and where they are gonna go and also spread them out more, figure out what day is going to be planting day and stick to it.

we’re still taking spinach and lettuce

really resilient bounces right back

Likes the cooler,


forces it to seed

this summer.

we planted some the second week of august and we’re eating that now.

the other thing I was gonna mention

where you put stuff

I save my own seeds, and I got a few pumpkin seeds in with my spaghetti squash.

What happened is I have some pumpkins that look like spaghetti squash and vice versa.

Too close to each other, lots of pollinators, bees worked those over. We got a little bit of cross pollination

wasn’t true to its form

make sure its a pumpkin patch

try to put something in between like beans, or corn or anything like that. Because there is some of that cross-pollination.

Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.

Im having a rough time

The thing that didn’t work so well this year, was the Raspberries , not because they didn’t grow, it was some four footed friends

unfortunately I didn’t produce

regular basis, nibbled down the top of my raspberry bushes,

However, I kind of got a second blossom of raspberries later on. Normally get them coming in the first of August but we actually got some at the end of August we normally wouldn’t  have, because when you prune something back like that

That’s what I was gonna say, I have spinach seeds coming up from spinach that bolted in the spring. It’s really nice, it’s been the best spinach I’ve had all year is what is growing now.

Something that you find is easy to grow and is generally successful every-time.

Spuds, no two ways about it, I’ve never really had a problem.

Because we have really good soil, black soil about 3 feet deep, we never really had a problem as far s fertility goes.

Usually the freak weather

freak frost, June 8th

early as sept the 8th, in the year that you only have 90 days of frost free growing it can be challenges

tomatoes have a cover we can put over that,

rain, then you get the mold, slugs,

I guess a warm dry year…is better then a

I can’t complain, everything grew pretty good this year.

insects seem to be not a problem, it’s the critters, pocket gophers, deer

when we were raising chickens it’s always the occasional weasel or skunk

fox or coyote

we’re far enough out in the country

We’ve had a lot of skunks in the country this year, and my dog just can’t seem to learn it seems like every two weeks he gets skunked!

Something you would steer new gardeners away from that you find is typically challenging to grow in your climate

I wouldn’t steer anyone

learn more by your failures then your success. Mother nature is really resilient. She gives you an abundance every year so it’s in the lean years you learn the most about gardening

advice I get  is from mother nature, she teaches you a lot.

Something I

overall more often then not, you’r gonna be more successful then you want to.

Most people get a pretty good yield from just trying, somethings gonna work right.

My grandfather used to say if you don’t grow a garden your not gonna eat. You can grow a lot of food in a small space. If you want to take the effort to do it.

its not all that much of an effort

if you are strategic, or go all haywire like I do with a little planning you can do 

I don’t have crop insurance.

we’re at the stage in life, I really don’t buy too much from the store, toilet paper, and plastic bags and a jug of milk because we don’t have a cow.

I do feel like I spend the most on dog food and cat food.

rule if you can’t put it in the freezer you don’t raise it.

couple of cats

You mean you don’t have dogs?

again when you’re living off the land, you have animals that are gonna contribute had a herding dog

a cat that doesn’t catch mice isn’t really worth a lot.

A doge that eats your dog food do your really need another companion.

Maybe I’m just too frugal, againI don’t throw anything away

Ive got more junk around here then I really need.

I like that, I’ve got lots of junk too. We do use a lot of it, if it ends up a lot

We end up recycling more then the average person, I don’t like that attitude just get rid of it. 

Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden.

There aren’t too many, weeding when the mosquitos are bad, I don’t mind weeding cause I can throw it in the compost pile and it’s going back in the soil eventually.

When the mosquitos are bad

that can be a real pain. I look at it form the physical fitness

stay active, keep moving,

a lot of people are in senior retirement homes and they’re there because they don’t move

always putting something away

cutting wood for the wood stove, you’re always doing something. That’s important.

raking leaves

stay busy

Mike’s really been cleaning up 

picking up the brush and undergrowth reducing fire danger, plus

we’re thinking about getting sheep, we want to get sheep for wool. Did you have sheep for wool or sheep that you eat?

we came in to sheep by accident


orphan lambs

raise them

they’d grow up

only have 3 acres of grass

If you have 2 sheep you’ll have 6 sheep real soon if you breed them.

We used to take it to mill in Alberta

put it into yarn.

big process

4 bags in the basement all full of yarn for about 6 years, I got enough wool to knit sweaters till I’m 95!!

They produced a lot of wool!

We’ve been trying to figure out what’s the best sheep to get for wool.

Pretty much a white face, 2 Suffolk, poly pay cross.. Lot of different breeds with different types of wool. Suffolk will produce lots of wool and a good carcass for meat

take grass right down to the root, you have to be careful

can beat up a pasture really fast. You’ve got to continually rotate the pasture if you’re gonna do that.

I’ve been kind of looking into it, but haven’t come up with much.

Read as much as you can, get online get books, read as much as you can…that’s the most important thing. You’ll learn a lot raising sheep but you but you can avoid a lot of mistakes

pasture management as with all

raising animals, you have to know how much grass those cows are gonna eat

if you don’t get the rains when you normally expect them, then you have to bring feed in. Very very important. You need to know what you’re land can provide.

Mike had cattle when he was a kid. 

I used to be the field man for the dairy.

Managing that feed is the most important thing, there were a lot of guys who suffered and had to buy hay and bring it in, very expensive, it can be a good year, and at the same time be a bad year for someone raising cattle.

What is your favorite activity to do in the garden.

This might sound kind of strange. I like putting a lawn chair in the garden just watching what the birds do, what the insects do. This fall, I heard this sound, it was the geese flying south. They

catching the thermal updrafts

stop and go into circles,

catching the up drafts, not even flapping their wings.

the heat as it comes  just little specks in the sky

start flying south again.

Amazing to watch

entertains the heck out of me,  they’re getting altitude so they can fly down hill

makes sense

saves them a lot of work they’re hardly even flapping their wings, when their flying south

those are the kind of things you can see when your in the garden

A pocket gopher in the ground late in the evening so you know where to set your traps

deer will come through there if you’re not

you learn a lot just by observing things.

I saw an eagle today. Really cool to watch go overhead.

I love watching the butterflies, we had a lot of bees this year, having more of everything we had more bees, not just our bees that we ordered, but all sorts of bees.

You don’t get that if you don’t stop and take some time to appreciate it.

Tell us about the best crop you ever grew.

The most recent crop this year was corn. This far north, normally not the first thing you think about in Alberta, but we had a bumper crop.

timing was perfect

I’ve got the freezer half full of corn. And cucumbers were the other thing.

Mike planted a lot of cucumbers.

IDK what happened to our corn. I think he saved it for seed.

Make sure that if he’s planting that seed, if he


two different varieties cross pollinate

won’t get a true sweet corn, you’ll get interesting combinations, but varieties

plant hybrid stuff too often it will actually go down in quality

it’s the first F1 generation that does the best.

We ordered some cool seeds this year from Bill McDorman who had got some seeds from over in Siberia and they are for the Rocky Mountains and we 

We had a couple of friends who grew watermelons

normally you can’t grow watermelons

we also got watermelons and cantaloupes. they’re tiny, but they were really good. WE saved those seeds so next year we’ll do better with those. most are still siting on the counter, hoping the will ripen, we cut some open

all my peppers are turning red that we harvested, probably a month ago, we picked everything,

I ate most of the cantaloupes

they didn’t change color as much as the two I ate

we’ve never been able to grow

What you’re saying the results of the research you’ve been doing. You’ve go t a little research farm right there. WE all do it comparing last years, top

taking full advantage of what mother nature can provide.

I’ve probably learned 

you’re a listener. we’re doing good!

What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?

Take what you do seriously and never take yourself seriously.

don’t expect the world, don’t try to go for maximum yield rather then optimum yield! What that does is creates nothing but problems, when you start breeding for that, dairy cattle is a perfect example of for years they always bred for production.

when you breed for one particular trait, what’s going to happen is you’re gonna get things you don’t want that will show up

Dairy cows can give 20 liters a day of milk, but if you don’t feed them properly you get

hoof problems, fatty livers. This is one of the problems I have with the GMO’s is whenever you’re changing a life form to express one particular trait you’re gonna run into trouble because, you’re not planning for the other traits that normally come what that set of genes. So if you want to

crop like a GMO conola, a roundup ready canola. That’s great if you want to spray roundup but, what else are you doing to that genome, you might be breeding some other really nasty trait that is in there.  Just about every living thing that has been bread for one particular trait to be expressed will have other problems that will come back and bite them. That’s the best advice, really try to optimize what you’re doing in the garden rather then forcing maximize. I’ve had dairy farmers that used to win awards for production, and they’re really geared back now to an optimum production and they’ve had less problems.  If you’re selling a product you want maximum, but if you want quality not necessarily gonna do you well for single gene expression. Just my personal feeling.


Have you ever entered a fair? How’d that go?

Fair is fun! don’t have enough people coming to compete, when everyone lived in a quarter section.

lots of farmer’s bring produce in

we don’t have the numbers that we used to have. So I walked away with a whole bunch of red ribbons, when you only have a few competitors

My problem with the fair is you bring it Thursday night and it’s been sitting there, so your best stuff.

We have to get tit her Friday,

It’s gone after that. You want to get people interested, and make it a learning experience.

We encourage people to sample, breads are really interesting things get some re

That helps people and experiment and try new things.

If you have people who aren’t inclined to enter thing in the fair, that’s not gonna happen. In the old days the bragging rights.

aren’t that many neighbors but makes it tough, people enjoy it, the handicrafts and photography section, as far as agriculture and stuff it wasn’t as big as it could have been.

This is the first year I entered the fair. I like to think the

I didn’t win the one with the biggest head. The other lady one. That was like a joke enough how are you going to put this in the car? How do you transport a sunflower

I think that’s fun having the biggest squash, or cucumber, the red ribbon I got this year, was,


purple onions they were uniform and tasted really good. put our best foot forward, best tasting stuff you possibly can. You certainly don’t do it for the money, once I paid my entry fees.

you have to pay an entry fee?

Got to cover the cost of tags and entry fee.

I remember complaining we had to pay to park!

Maybe that’s where that money goes to pay for the tags.

Cover the cost of what goes on there, gotta rent the hall. 

I think it comes out of our property taxes. We have a huge fairgrounds and a fair secretary who had a part time job all year long.


I make more money on the fair then the lotteries that’s for sure!

A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.

There are a lot of favorites for different things. The 2, the one that I really depend on, when I’m out there weeding.

The stirrup hoe, looks like a stirrup, some people call it a dutch hoe,

slices the roots right at the surface

rake all the weeds really is slick you can get a lot of weeding done.

The other thing. pruning shears,

gonna optimize want to make sure stuff doesn’t grow crazy. if you prune it back you make sure you get filling of the fruits. In the fall I prune some of the raspberries back and they come back like gangbusters.

trees I prune…

do you ever have to sharpen your hoe?


How do you do that?

get an old file, put it

always wait till it dries out a bit

Joyce Pinson explains

Two things, get it nice and share, and don’t weed

if it’s too wet it sticks to the sharpened edge you’re just pushing mud around.

That [probably happens to people because if you weed right after you water.

don’t want to spread it around, if you have any problems with mold or wilt,

beans and tomatoes stuff like that, why ask for trouble?

Do you have any tips for mold, because this year has been a powdery mildew year for others.

I don’t worry too much about that, I haven’t seen huge amounts of damage, I go back to soil health, if the soil is working properly and your not disturbing the roots too much,

keeping compost on top of there,

even if it dries out, if you have a layer of compost on there,

if you have some organic matter, it will soak up quite a bit of moisture too, that’s why I’ve gone to spreading it out on top,

mediates both of those effects, keeps it cool when it’s hot

keeps soil warm when it’s cold


Eating or harvesting vegetables or fruit on time? 

You were talking earlier planning your garden

plan stuff it come in not all at once. then the kitchen is nicer place to live in because if you have all the burners going

making jam

blanching beans for the freezer what have you

Like cucumbers

3 different plantings of cucumbers,

making pickles 3 a week between each one of those, if you’re that disciplined

You get three different plantings of cucumbers?


I’m like your husband mike

I plant too many of them, I learned if I plant too many of them,

one area of the garden

beans next to cucumbers

couldn’t hardly pick the beans

makes life a little easier.

We learned a lot this year with our new mini farm.


Do you have any secrets for preserving food-making it last? 

always kept it outside in the shed if you’re gonna get a freezer, get a good one,

store it someplace where it’s not gonna work so hard.

Mine doesn’t come on. When it’s minus 30 you don’t worry

keep it out of direct sun if your’ freezing food.

as far as canning, experiment a little bit of recipes


bread and butter pickles

come up with a list of different recipes, you’ll get to the point you really like one, that will be a family favorite!


That’s a great tip.

how many people think where am I gonna put my freezer

The point I’m trying to make there, 40 years ago, they probably make a lot better stuff, today it wears a little quicker. don’t want to make an appliance work harder then it has to, I don’t like to work in the garden,

weed early in the morning


don’t weed when its hot and there’s a ton of mosquitos

I totally agree, I think gardening has to be convenient. I love raised beds, If I can just sit on the edge I can sit and drink my coffee and weed all morning. I like things outside my kitchen window. Our mini farm is twice as far as our garden which I already think  is too far away.

ask people why don’t you have a garden

it’s too much work

How can it be too much work?

you’re outside

how much work is there?  A little bit of weeding and you get to eat all this free food

IDK, Mike does a lot of work. Once you get those basics down. If you do a little bit each year, that’s been success we started with 2 little 4×10 beds.

Every year you’re excited about building a new bed, digging the soil out, cutting the sod up, like licensing the  chalk board. To me it’s time consuming, when you’re woking full time, there’s days where eI don’t’ see the garden for 4 days.

Do you have any special techniques for cooking weird or unusual foods?

grandkids, take potatoes, wrap em up in the hot coals. that’s fun.

cooking hot dogs on a stick…

You can wrap up other things like zucchini on the coals, kids love that!

A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?

strawberry rhubarb jam

toasted bread is that ever good!

A favorite internet resource?

the internet, really good stuff out there…

most often that I go too, is understandable. Is Dr. Elaine Ingrahm




Very understandable, she has a phd, letters behind her name, she will get your mind to understand how soil works and how important it is

Back to Eden


Paul Gautschi a christian fellow, he uses wood chips

out of Washington state

wood chipping, different perspective

gardens puts wood chips on top of the soil as they decompose they really improve his soil

that’s fun. Again just the internet, there’s so much out there. take 15 minutes a day and just kind of browse agriculture or gardening things.

I don’t think Dr. Ingrahm or soilweb sounds familiar to me so that will be a new resource.

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?

I tend to read technical journals

if I can get my hand on some particular item, whether it be plumbing, physics. I’m kind of a nerd when it comes like that. To me to drive to the library when the internet is right here, it’s easier and convenient

And Amazon will deliver it right off the internet if you just gotta have it!

Final question- if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

Oh boy! I guess the biggest one that I see, is getting carbon back into the soil. Most of the carbon on this planet is locked up in the soil, Whether it be oil or coal, most of it is in the top of the soil. we’ve burned fossil fuels we need to do something. the biggest thing you can do is plant a tree, there’s an old expression, “when’s the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago”… more living things on this planet, don’t need more parking lots, more highways, sub-developments, more green stuff on this planet to get back to where it’s healthy again.

Isn’t the saying, when’s the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago, when’t the next best time? today.”

Why not build our parking lots up, then they would be shaded.

I always say if I was president, I’d require that every parking lot would have a tree for every 4-6 trees, then we’d have shade,

I’m never gonna be president.

What I’d say is every time you go to a funeral plant a tree for that person.

Do you have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?

Just do it get your fingers in the soil. It’s an experience it’s fun! Do it! If you don’t do it. If you never try it, you’ll never know what you missed. I guess you could say the same for sky diving.

We decided in Montana our motto is “Get er done!”

You’ll never know, gardening’s not your cup of tea.  Get out there and try it!

 I think you have rally shared some secrets and tips to be successful, and embrace your failures.

the outside of the trees, the old ones turn pretty black…

over centuries that happens, lets say every 5 years  you have a forest fire, what is that bio-char.

that’s where all of our coal comes from people forget about that over the centuries, we’ve had forest fires over the years,

that’s carbon that goes back into the soil, it’s been locked up…

when we burn more of it, we keep putting that soil back in the air, and it keeps raising the carbon did levels. why do we have global warming?

Do we need to take that forest fire, that charcoal and put it into where the farmland is, that’s that part that I’m not understanding?

if you take a look where I live

the land where I live is 6 to 8’ taller then eh land

next to me, that’s all carbon that’s left the soil.

we don’t have cover cropsIn the old days,

we used have hay crops, every

you’d  plow down that hay crop  the stems and  and holding that stuff there,

cows go and eat it, they poop it out the end

we’re mining carbon, just like we mine ore and everything and everything else.

the only way your gonna recapture that is by growing green stuff and growing trees

it’s a video what a tree made of

you’ve probably seen  Derrick Muler, he’s got a podcast,

It’s only 4 minutes, it;s probably the most impressive 4 minutes. talks specifically where does the carbon go that’s in a tree. I think you’ll get a kick out of it.

I showed it to my grandkids

What did you think of the oil about Russia

I haven’t had time

wait the thing about Russia saying they’re not gonna go GMO, and I researched it it’s true!

there’s a lot of countries that are banning GMO’s

They’re actually showing am movie in Eureka,

about GMO’s in our food,

So that conference I went to, this woman wrote this book called the Lentil Underground and that’s what it’s about. They know we need to plant those cover crops, what are the barriers to preventing farmers if we know that’s what we need to do.

If the neighbors are doing,

this amazing women went to talk to find out what they’re doing here in Montana

Do you know what a nurse crop is…

A nurse crop is a perfect example. You old plant a crop like wheat or barley, and you would

go in and plant a hay crop alfalfa on top of it, and you would go scatter hay bro like

barley shoots right up right away because it grows fast,

cover crop is slower to take off because it’s being shaded by barley

when you harvest the the barley you have all these small seedlings

the problem is everyone is cash cropping, stuff, so they’re basically what I look at as clear cutting, they cut everything down and harvest it and sell it, you never get a chance to get that organic matter back in the soil, the roots and the stems, that makes up the soil, we’re mining the soil. when you mine the soil your exporting

shipping their straw off

to a big feed lot down by Lethbridge

smart way of doing it, why ship it, bed them down here

across the country or down into Montana,

That’s like they want to ship all that Tar Sands oil, to go across the us to the gulf of Mexico, gonna go under the reservoir in Nebraska, and if something happens and it’s not even for the US

like I said, it’s all about dollars

you gotta have a return on your investment yowl sell it to anyone who has



we’ll save that for an earth day episode next spring!

    TomLampmanSpudsSm  TomLampmanGarden


About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

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