About The P-Patch
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."