Picardo Farm P-Patch

Address: , Seattle, WA
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There’s dirt…and then there’s soil! Picardo Farm P-Patch, the original and biggest
garden, is the home of Seattle’s best soil. If one could be eloquent about soil,
this garden would provide the inspiration. Rich, black, peaty, sucking with moisture
in the spring, powdery dry for digging potatoes, so full of life that crops (and
alas weeds) spring out of the ground at alarming rates.

Picardo’s size amazes. In the spring the newly plowed areas await seeds; a few months
later you can get lost among the towering corn and sunflowers. Stand still and you
can imagine being enveloped by reaching tendrils of pole beans. You can look at
a plot of potatoes and realize that the pink, white and baby blue blossoms reveal
clues to the treasures below; pink for Pontiacs, white for keepers, and babyblue
for purple potatoes. Two hundred and fifty gardeners share this paradise. They work
diligently composting, combating comfrey, and making friends. We know of at least
three marriages that started over a row of peas.

Each spring before plowing, the killdeer nest on the bare soil. They are always
protected from the tractors which they try to lure away from their nests with calls
and “broken-wing” tactics. Each spring we wait to see how the plots lay out and
which gardener will be foster parent to the baby killdeer.

Picardo Farm is unique. As the original Seattle community garden, it has the longest
term gardeners; dedicated people who have worked for years at tilling the soil and
cultivating the program. It is also unique in having the longest quack grass roots
in the city, the greatest number of comfrey plants per acre, and the most numerous
slugs in the universe.

For the twentieth anniversary celebration, instead of the usual tractors, six teams
of enormous draft horses plowed the site. Imagine the heavy steam rising from the
horses nostrils as they strained to turn the heavy, wet soil, their hooves thudding
through the earth as the plow turned stripes of black soil and hid the green weeds
of winter below. Imagine the teams working, while the spectators hushed in awe.
It was a day of return to times of the past and the wonder of nature. A magic time
when one could hear the soil speak, “Plant seeds here.”

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about the Picardo P-Patch Planning Process

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