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THE BETTER WAYS TEST GARDEN IN PHOTOS

A variety of organic vegetables grow on a balcony at the headquarters of Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC © 2013Above: baby lettuce starts with basil and swiss chard left over from the spring, alpine strawberries, flanked by scarlet runner beans.

Beans are one of the big eye catchers on our balcony this summer; as you’ll soon see we can’t get enough of them. Below we’ve captured some of our favorites of the fruits and veggies in the Better Ways test garden this summer. We hope they will inspire you to think about how much food can be grown in a relatively small space. The options for small containers and what to put in them are endless. This is just the tip of the iceberg. What do you think you would like to grow?

If nothing else, it’s at least a good break from the work day. (Click photos to enlarge for scratch and sniff.)

Strawberries growing in Dr. Grimme's Tower Tot small container garden. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013

Strawberries growing in Dr. Grimme's Tower Tot small container garden. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013

We chose alpine variety strawberries to plant in small containers.  The berries may be small in stature, but what they lack in size they make up for with big flavor. They’re a good choice where space is limited because they tend to be steady producers throughout the whole season, where other varieties drop off after early summer.We love stepping out onto the back porch to pick a few for oatmeal in the mornings.

Scarlet Runner Beans grow in Tower Tots at the Better Ways headquarters. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013.

 Reaching towards the sky these bold beans aren’t afraid to dance in the breeze…

Bright lights swiss chard and scarlet runner beans growing in Dr. Grimme's Tower Tots small container garden. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013 Bright lights swiss chard and heirloom scarlet runner beans

An endorsement  from a local fan…

Ladybugs love Dr. Grimme's pesticide free garden. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013.

Lettuce; spinach and chard starts grow in Dr. Grimme's Tower Tot. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013.

Mixed greens from earlier this spring include 2 varieties of lettuce, spinach, and swiss chard. 

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Pole beans growing in Dr. Grimme's Tater Towers® vertical planters. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013

We started 3 varieties of pole beans in Tater Towers with closed bottoms (Tower Tot) on our back deck, fashioning stands from left over wood and a pyramid of bamboo and twine to climb. We chose to use 2 levels instead of 1 to help protect the beans from the dogs. Despite efforts to knock them over they are doing splendidly. Admittedly, there wasn’t a plan when we put them in, but Mrs. G is a compulsive seed buyer so they had to go somewhere. Now they’re producing like crazy! Everyone is getting beans for Christmas.

I love to watch how pole beans climb. Ever-reaching delicate limbs intertwine as they stretch skyward, giving way to puckered petals and slender fruit. For something so fragile and fleeting, they exhibit such strength and endurance. People should be more like beans, they are the most romantic of things.

pole beans start the climb. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013

 

pole beans start the climb. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013Many of these photos started with naps below the bean towers.

Reaching the top, pole beans climb a pyramid of twine at Better Ways HQ. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC

pole beans grow in a Dr. Grimme's Tater Tower stackable planter. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013

Flowers of the stringless purple pole bean. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013Flowers on the stringless purple pole bean.

Flowers of the blue lake pole bean. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013Blue Lake pole beans have bubblegum pink flowers and dark blue/black beans when dry.

Blue lake green beans intertwine. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013.

Pole beans growing in Dr. Grimme's Tater Towers® vertical planters. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013

Green beans growing in Dr. Grimme's Tater Towers® vertical planters. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013

very young green bean. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLCCute.

And speaking of cute, we’re growing these little fellas for the first time this year. They aren’t growing in a Tower Tot, but they certainly would be a good match. Mexican Sour Gherkins.  They’re as big around as your pinky finger  and pop with a fresh hint of lemon in your mouth. They are also a great garnish for gin cocktails.

Young mexican sour gherkin cucumber. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013

mexican sour gherkin cucumber. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013

mexican sour gherkin cucumber. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013

Of course no garden would be complete without potatoes. This spring we placed 2 sets of towers on our driveway and they’ve done very well, as you can see below. It’s almost harvest time and we can barely wait!

Lavender potato flowers. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC 2013

Dr. Grimme's Tater Tower® over time. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLCBefore and After

Dr. Grimme's Tater Tower® stackable planter box for growing potatoes. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC

Cluster of white potato flowers. © Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC

ARE YOU A GIFT REGISTRY REBEL?

 

Are you a gift registry rebel? Dr. Grimme's Tater Tower® stackable planter for growing potatoes is the perfect wedding or anniversary gift. The couple that gardens together, grows together.

With the coming of June we find spring and love are in full bloom around every corner. That’s right, it’s wedding season. Don your peep toes, bow ties, and big smiles, and don’t forget your champagne glass. But what if traditional weddings aren’t amongst your favorite things? Maybe you’d rather listen to a chorus of crying babies than hear Bridal Chorus one more time. Perhaps the thought of buying monogrammed tea towels and matching egg cups makes you sick. You might be more of a bachelor party, not a matrimony kind of friend.

Whether you’re the (obviously, very cool) bride and groom, or the (equally cool) guest, Dr. Grimme’s got the perfect wedding gift for you. The Dr. Grimme’s Tater Tower® interlocking, stackable planter box is a strong, sustainable, and sexy way to celebrate your nuptials.

Here’s 10 reasons why:

  1. The Tater Tower is small (only 18 inches on a side), so it’s a great fit in snug newlywed bungalows.
  2. Did we mention it’s IN-TER-LOCK-ING? If that doesn’t turn you on, then you have no pulse.
  3. Nothing says, “I love you.” or “I’m really sorry I spilled coffee on your favorite _____.” like tasty creamy new potatoes.
  4. Despite trending sales and sometimes overwhelming popularity, chances are good that the happy couple doesn’t have one yet. Be original: Get a Tater Tower.
  5. In the storm of unwanted stress that comes with joining your life with someone else’s, tension can get a little high. It’s healthy to get outside and spend time together at a slower pace.
  6. Potatoes are a very healthy, close to perfect food. They will not give you more “cushion for the pushin'” but they will give you more…energy to spend in creative ways with your loved one.
  7. Newlyweds are naturally optimistic, so what better time to start growing your own food.
  8. Friends, for a good time repackage the tater tower in the wrong order before gifting. “Oh, those married people think they’ve got it all figured out, let’s see them assemble one of these without having their first fight.” (Dr. Grimme would not endorse this.)
  9. We’ll say it again, because it’s an important but often overlooked feature. Gardening is romantic! It is. Whether you do it alone, or with a partner. Connect with nature; connect with yourself; connect with your loved one; connect with the universe and a history that, since the beginning of time — whichever beginning you subscribe to —  was buzzing, tingling with activity. Literature oozes with imagery of whimsical, sensual gardens. You’re starting to picture them.  Adam and Eve. Hysmine and Hysminias. Locus amoenus. Vauxhall, the first pleasure garden in London. Like gardening, farming and harvesting food isn’t any less so. In fact, it completes the cycle. Nurturing plants also nurtures us. The body is the garden of the soul.  More than potatoes grow in the garden; love grows. And the couple that gardens together, grows together.
  10. “What I say is that, if a man really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.” – A.A. Milne.

And we’ll leave it at that.

carrots lying together.

 

 

A HOT DAY IN MAY!

Trimming Wisteria on World Naked Gardening Day

May is one of our favorite months. (Along with April, June, and about 9 others.) May kicks it off right with May Day, a holiday for giving flowers to friends and pole dancing that takes place in the sun and is never detrimental to one’s self-esteem. Not long after May Day is Mother’s Day, where we show love to our mothers and remind ourselves to plant tomatoes. For some reason these things go hand-in-hand, which is helpful for procrastinators like us who might otherwise delay planting them until it’s too late.

–Another great thing about potatoes: it’s rarely ever too late!–

Yes, May is the month where folks really like to get their “garden” on, and why not? With days full of sunshine and more holidays than you can shake a hoe at the soil is prime for the tilling…ENTER: WORLD NAKED GARDENING DAY. That’s right, just when you thought may could not be any better, it is now the host month for two of the best things known to humankind: gardening and being naked!

A few details about World Naked Gardening Day (WNGD). It was first declared officially in 2005 by Seattle resident Mark Storey. There are no rules regarding procedure or conventions to attend –yet. The only guideline is that you privately or publicly, with friends or alone, do gardening related activities to beautify and improve natural spaces. In the buff. WNGD is reportedly celebrated on 3rd, 4th, or 14th, and according to the official website (wngd.org) the 1st Saturday of the month. Fact: naked gardening is about freedom. No one takes attendance, so pick a day and feel FREE.

(We had such a good time feeling free, that for us it is likely the first of several WNGDs before the end of summer.)

watering carrots on World Naked Gardening Day

“The body seems to feel beauty when exposed to it as it feels the campfire or sunshine, entering not by the eyes alone, but equally through all one’s flesh like radiant heat, making a passionate ecstatic pleasure flow not explainable.” -John Muir, founder of The Sierra Club

Tips for enjoying naked gardening:

  • A cocktail never hurts. Keep reading for some of our spring and summer favorites.
  • If you’re the shy type, celebrate on a weekday while the neighbors are away.
  • We can’t stress this one enough. Sun protection. Sun protection. Sun protection.
  • Check local ordinances on nudity before going out in public.

If, like us, you are not fortunate to have access to acres of chirping birds and babbling brooks , what would be on your “Please stop power-washing” playlist? Do you know a good source for sun hats? Share your experiences and discoveries with us. (not necessarily your photos because asking for them is creepy but we do have a facebook page).

Some of our favorite spring and summer beverages:

  • The classic Bloody Mary. Or Maria, if you’re a Tequila drinker. Refreshing and delicious, even in the morning. Note: Celery juice will help you stay hydrated.
  • Mimosa with fresh squeezed orange juice. Best for light gardening followed by napping.
  • The Grimme Spring Spritzer: 3 parts Imbue  bittersweet vermouth, 1 part St. Germain. Pour over ice in a 1-pint mason jar, top with soda. Garnish with lime and basil.
  • Dr. Grimme’s Pain Panacea: 2 parts ginger beer to 1 part Imbue Petal and Thorn over ice for an adult sarsaparilla that’s simple yet satisfying.

World Naked Gardening Day Grant Tribute

 

PROUD PARENT

This week we have a lot to celebrate! It’s the 1 year anniversary of our website launch. There are now HUNDREDS (multiple, as in more than two hundred) Dr. Grimme’s Tater Tower® potato planters in yards and gardens all over the country! We know you are all very excited, as you’ve surely been celebrating all week too, but please – hold off on the booze long enough to read this because there is more great stuff coming your way!

The website launch is not the only anniversary we are celebrating this week. At the Grimme house, we are also celebrating chicken birthdays! One year ago we brought home our first four chickens. Cute. Fluffy. Loud. Helpless. Very Messy.

Frida, Vida, Lottie and Hattie demonstrating pecking order at Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC headquarters.

What seemed silly to us prior to becoming chicken parents is that everyone who has chickens loves to brag about them. About how pretty they are. What great layers they are. How funny they are. How much they add to our lives. It’s true. In one year (one day) their little chicken personalities won us over. Forever.

As we watched them grow and develop into pullethood, there was a clear and present pecking order developing. Lottie (short for Loretta) was at the top, and poor Frida was at the bottom.

Upon closer observation, Frida had problems. She was repeatedly late for the game. Where the others were dead on with their pecking accuracy, Frida took several swipes before hitting the mark, if she hit it at all. Soon, the rest of her coop-mates began laying. Regularly. And we were delighted, but nothing from Frida. Then we figured it out. (No, she was not a rooster.) She was blind. Or at least mostly. She had dull gray, cloudy eyes. Most chickens need about 16 hours of sunlight to begin laying eggs and Frida wasn’t getting it. This explained it. Everything. Why she missed out on all of the good treats. Why she was going to bed so early, and why she had to be pulled off the roost in the middle of the day– because for Frida it was dark. Imagine how we felt to discover that the cute bearded chicken we lovingly thought of as “slow” actually had vision problems.

Frida's Green EggSo, we had a pretty Americauna walking around, basically for decoration, living “rent-free”. What are you going to do though? Eat her? That was not an option. We had long past that point. Winter came, and egg production slowed for the rest of the girls. Then on a dreary Oregon winter day the first green egg appeared. Not in the nesting box. Right out in the middle of their yard, in front of God and everyone. And she hasn’t stopped since. Frida has turned out to be our best winter layer, with very large, very healthy-looking, beautiful green eggs. They’re not made out of gold, but they are every bit as precious to us, as is Frida.

Frida the BlindNature never fails to amaze. As soon as Frida found her calling, her whole persona changed. No longer the passive, last-to-the-table, girl. No way. She’s confident, dare I say flirty, and in there fighting peck for peck with the rest of the girls, no matter how many it takes.

At Dr. Grimme’s Better Ways, LLC we believe in miracles, and we try to acknowledge them, no matter how big or small. That something created in your garage can serve people all over the country. That even a blind chicken can lay an egg. In honor of all we have to celebrate we thought it would be fun to release our second product. A chicken bumper sticker. Or, more appropriately named, The Proud Parent Sticker.

Join us! Show the world how much you appreciate your bird with a Proud Parent sticker. Put it on your car or truck. Slap it on your water bottle or 3-ring binder. Get one today!

 

Dr. Grimme's Better Ways, LLC Proud Parent Sticker. My Child Eats Spiders featuring Lottie the chicken.

 

POTATOES HAVE NEEDS!

Grow together!  Gardening with loved ones is a very fulfilling experience.  Add Dr. Grimme's Tater Tower ® to your backyard farm or urban farm and increase the amount of home grown food on your table.

I-N-T-E-R-L-O-C-K-I-N-G and S-T-A-C-K-A-B-L-E

 

Greetings and salutations, you fortunate few who are reading this on this fine St. Valentine’s Day!  It’s been a long, cold winter, but the days are growing longer.  Times are brighter, love is in the air, and there are tingly sensations rising to every surface once again.  You are not the only one who is feeling them.  Your seed potatoes know as well.  Their eyes are popping as you read this.  They are calling to you.  “We’re ready for you!  Come get us!”  Their sprouts are growing and reaching; longing to plunge into the dark, moist compost you offer them at the next possible opportunity.  They yearn to once again feel the sensual sway of circadian rhythms; to grasp for that intense light at the end of the aphotic tunnel.  Do not deny them this!

 

But what of the human experience?  Do you want your relationship to be as sustainable as your garden?  What could better embody an intense emotion encompassing the complexities of love, lust, desire and a fruitful garden?  Nothing says, “I love you!”  like a Dr. Grimme’s Tater Tower ® interlocking, stackable planter box.  If you have missed your opportunity to get your “hot potato” a tower for Valentine’s Day, you will have more chances all season long.  A birthday perhaps?  An anniversary?

Dr. Grimme’s Tater Tower ® planter box does not have to be limited to your romantic relationships.  There is always St. Patrick’s Day–traditionally the day to plant potatoes.  Mother’s Day!  Father’s Day!

And a MOST EXCELLENT wedding present any time of year, as you might imagine…..

 

 

 

 

BACKYARD POTATO FARMING 101

When picking seed potatoes, for optimizing your yield in the potato towers, choose a late season variety.  These continue to produce tubers off the stem of the plant as it grows, as opposed to just setting one time at the base of the plant. These varieties include Yellow Finn, Red Pontiac and fingerlings.  Potatoes like  a sandy soil mixture, and a lot of sun.  Plant your seed potatoes in a Dr.Grimme’s Tater Tower® planter box.  As the plants grow, continue to add soil mixture around the stem of the plant, leaving an inch or two of green plant showing.  Add another level to the tower as needed to hold the soil mixture.  Repeat, as the plant grows.  The more stem, the more places the plant has to grow potatoes! The plant will grow out of the top of the tower.  Water as necessary.  The potato plant will flower, and then die.  HARVEST TIME!

IN THE BEGINNING…

This is a big moment for us. You could say, “HUGE“.

As you read this, we depart on our intrepid adventure into the world of small online business. We come to you as humble servants of the soil who dream of filling a special niche amongst the spuds in your garden; to share space with the lettuces and leeks; to share our solutions and discoveries with all of you.

The idea for Dr. Grimme’s Tater Tower® stackable planter comes from the  practice of growing potatoes vertically to optimize yield. The taller the plant, the more potatoes. Traditionally, potatoes are grown in long rows by dedicated farmers who regularly hill up the soil around the plant. The art of potato gardening was later revolutionized by the used tire. Decades ago, when used tires rolled rampantly about the streets, a clever hippie and garden sage (to whom we owe much credit) said, “Lie them down and give them purpose. Let them find a home in the garden.” So began the trend of filling tires with soil and growing towering potato plants from within their rubbery insides.

While the excess of used tires is still a concern, new discoveries on their potentially harmful chemical makeup discouraged a young Dr. Grimme from taking this route in his own horticultural endeavors. “You wouldn’t make soup in a tire? Why grow the vegetables in them?” After much research he came up with the design for the future of Dr. Grimme’s Tater Tower® boxes (see prototype in photo above). Lightweight, stackable boxes made from cedar that is grown and milled here in Oregon, easily interlocking for quick and stable assembly,  and an even quicker harvest!

These towering spud-studs may not be able to guarantee that you’ll grow the next World’s Biggest Potato, but they do promise to make you part of a movement. Your own movement, towards growing your own food. Using a limited amount of space and effort, you can grow plenty of potatoes for yourself, friends and family.

ARE YOU READY???

GET READY!

With St. Patty’s day just around the corner,  it’s time to get serious about potatoes. For many, March 17th marks the time to get those spuds in the ground. So before you go out n’ get rowdy playin’ yer fiddle and dancin’ a fine jig, wear yer greens down to the garden and plant yee some taters. Chances are it’s the perfect moment! Throw in a drunken brawl and all your friends will be jealous from the foggy retellings of the good time you barely remember. This year you’ll at least have a garden full of potatoes to show for it!

Order your Dr. Grimme’s Tater Tower® planter box soon to be sure it arrives on time for the big day!

Here are some great resources for growing and ordering your seed potatoes:

Seed Saver’s Exchange Potato Growing Guide
Check your plant hardiness zone
Seed potatoes from Maine Potato Lady–look at the late season varieties to maximize potato tower yield
For our friends down south, check out : Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

seed potatoes from Grow Organic……

 

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